- Save enough money to pay for your vacation without having to borrow or use credit cards. One way to save the money is to set up a vacation fund and contribute money you normally use on unnecessary luxuries. For example, if you buy lunch every day at work, pack a lunch and put the money you save in your vacation fund. Or, give up the expensive coffee you are addicted to and make coffee at home. Most of us spend more than we realize on things we really don’t need. Figure out where you can save some money.
- Stay in a condo or private home rather than a hotel. While I’m a big fan of doing all my vacation planning and booking online, this is one instance where I’ve had a bad experience. I booked my last vacation on vrbo.com and was extremely unhappy with the condo I ended up in. On the other hand, I’ve booked condos through rental agents and been extremely happy. To find rental agents, search for real estate companies in the area where you want to travel. Most real estate companies in popular vacation spots have short-term rental agents too. Talk to a few different rental agents until you find one you like. Never pay a rental agent a fee. The owner pays them. If you are asked for a fee, don’t work with that agent and/or agency.
- Take an all-inclusive vacation. All-inclusive vacations are trips where your room and meals are included for one price. Make sure when you research potential all-inclusive vacations that you find out what isn’t included in the price. Sometimes activities are included, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes non-alcoholic beverages are included, but not always. Normally alcoholic beverages, airfare and tips aren’t included in the price. Cruises, Club Med, and many resorts are all-inclusive options.
- Make your vacation plans online. There are so many advantages to doing this. Prices are usually lower. You can compare prices before committing to anything. You don’t get hit with some of the new fees charged simply for talking to a real human.
The following tips are specific ways you can save money by planning and booking your vacation online. I give some examples of websites devoted to each category, but there are many more. To find more, do an online search, however, please make sure before you book anything that the company you are planning to use is legitimate. One way to do that is to do a separate search of the company. Another is to see how long they’ve been in business.
- Book your vacation as a package. If you need airfare, hotel, and/or a rental car, you can usually get a discount by booking them all together. Expedia, Kayak, Orbitz, and Travelocity are four of the biggest online travel sites for vacation packages you build yourself.
- Take a pre-packaged vacation. You have slightly less flexibility than if you create the entire itinerary yourself, but depending on your needs this can be an even more affordable option. Apple Vacations has numerous pre-packaged travel options.
- Use a travel discounter. Two well-known ones are Priceline and Hotwire. Others are CheapCaribbean and Vacationist.
- Book your vacation at the last minute. Many of the same websites that I’ve already mentioned have even bigger discounts for last minute travel.
- Book a private home or apartment online through VRBO or Homeaway. If you use this option, please do a better job of screening your “home away from home” than I did.
- Get additional discounts by signing up for email alerts at hotels, airlines, and other travel companies you like. In the same vein, become their Facebook fan and Twitter follower.
To many joyful beach experiences!
— Lisa Dworkin
Photo courtesy of http://tinyurl.com/4ey79lw