4 ways to save money on your next vacation
Travel agents don’t cost you zip, but it could save you thousands. We didn’t take a lot of vacations growing up, most of ours consisted of camping which was tons of fun as a child but it didn’t require hopping on a plan or coordinating lodging, airfare or meals. Most of our meals were over an open flame, except for that one time my Dad had to put out the camp stove fire with a gallon of milk because it’s all that was handy. He was afraid that the tarp he had hung to keep the rain off the stove was going to go up in flames so we were out of milk. I think that was around the time my mom thru up her hands and said that’s it, we’re eating out! I digress….the point is, I didn’t have much experience with travel agents and in my mind, they were expensive and played as the middle man driving up the price. It wasn’t until after college when Greg and I were planning our first solo trip to Mexico that I learned different.
After many years and tons of trips out of the country, I can not count how many times we have been saved by the travel agent. For example, this past year we went with my entire family (7 of us) to Mexico. Essentially, I had given the agent a dollar amount we wanted to stay within and how many days we’d like to go and said find us the best deal. While I was going on with my bad self doing other things like house cleaning and tending to a newborn baby, she was researching and find us the best deal. Within a few days we had selected our destination at an all inclusive resort. We found ourselves at the airport waiting for our shuttle when we found out that there had been some kind of mixup with their system. (please note: this was not the travel agent’s fault) Apple Vacations had upgraded their system and there was a freak glitch that just so happened to affect us. It had the 7 of us splitting up and going to two separate resorts during one of their busiest times of the year and literally every resort was filled to the max.. Had I booked that vacation by myself, I would have been completely on my own to figure that out. Instead, we called up our agent and basically said “fix this”. We sat around sipping fruity drinks in the lobby of the resort while they sorted out the mess. In the end, we ended up with an upgraded resort at no additional cost.
So how does it work if it doesn’t cost you extra. They do the work and get paid by the hotel or excursions companies on the other end. Sure, some travel agents may be slightly biased about where you stay (because of the kickbacks) but for the most part, any travel agent I’ve talked to is more interested in making sure you get 100% out of a trip and have a fantastic time, so you will use them again and again. Not only did she save us money but she knew what was worth seeing, what to pack and wear, helpful apps and books and lots more.
Crowd sourcing is the way to go. You have to love the digital age. With the creation of apps like Uber, AirBnB and others, you now have options. Don’t want to catch a cab, call an Uber. Don’t want to pay hotel prices…or perhaps all the hotels are filled and have no vacancy, you have AirBnB. Sometimes you might need an entire house, sometimes just a room and there may be an occasion where you just need the couch….we have so many options right at our finger tips!
Get a package deal instead of booking the trip piece by piece on your own. Check into all inclusive trips thru travel agencies. I know people who have gone on amazing trips to Italy, Thailand and other amazing places bundled together with airfare, sleeping accommodations, rental cars, meals, excursions and taxes/insurance for way cheaper than it would have been to book it all separately. There are so many options out there and sometimes you can even swap one service for another-it’s worth checking out.
With the package deals, you are usually required to put down half as the deposit, then pay the rest just before your trip. I LOVE having it paid for in advance. We save up the entire amount before our trip, pay it off, then save up a bit more for spending and additional food while there. It feels so good to not have to come home and pay off a bunch of credit cards and debt.
Consider buying a package through a company like Gate 1 Travel or Travel Zoo (or even Groupon! And remember that you can get 6% cash back if you buy through Ebates!) and it will likely save you a lot of time, money, and hassle.
Last minute deals. I realize not everyone has the ability to be as flexible as others, but this is typically how our family travels. We often wait until the last minute to catch one of their deals. If you’re not picky about the timing or destination or you’re adventurous of your next trip, you can save money with last-minute deals on hotel rooms, vacation packages and airfare.