When planning a trip we normally start with what step? A budget, right? Well, not always. Usually, it’s the destination! The beautiful views and the exciting adventure! Someone shared their experience or you saw an advertisement and now you want to go too. Then… we find out how much it costs $$$!!! WOW!!! SERIOUSLY!!! Even though you thought you had an idea of the cost, you didn’t expect it to be that much.  Before you hand over your hard-earned money, some research needs to be done. Where can you find the best deals? How are all these other people able to afford a similar trip? As travel experts, we experience this “sticker shock” reaction time and time again with our clients. Our answer, most of the time, is that the key to finding a less expensive option for your dream vacation is FLEXIBILITY. We also help put the price into perspective. Can you expect to travel from the U.S. to Japan for the same price as a weekend trip within the states? Not realistically. So, having a sensible starting point helps. There are instances when a rigid schedule or budget is required and there’s no way around it– you have to go on these dates for this price. What we’ve found, mostly, is that the “rigid” part is not so much a requirement, but a state of mind. Remember, this is vacation we’re talking about, be flexible! As you begin to plan your vacation, form a game plan. If you are traveling with others set up a relaxed meet up to discuss everyone’s expectations- budgets, desired length of trip, destinations, experiences, level of activity. Keep it fun! Remember, it’s vacation! Decide on the best means of communication, so you can get in touch relatively quickly once the research starts. This works especially well when planning group travel. We will discuss group travel in a future post. Moving forward, your flexible mindset will come into play. You have a dream destination in mind, you just need to make sure the cost is right. Here are some flexible options:
  • Look for off-peak flight dates during the year. There are certain times of the year when the flights are cheaper. you will usually pay a higher fare for holidays, spring break and summer. Parents tend to wait until their kids are out of school to travel paying much higher rates than if they— wait for it— travel when school is in session. Psst… you didn’t hear that from me! Think about when most people travel and avoid those times.
  • Some destinations have lower pricing during winter months. Generally, known as dead zones. Especially, overseas and other areas that thrive in the warmer weather. If you’re not into the activities associated with warmth, you can save a bundle. My fiance’ and I love to take advantage of the price breaks that come with the cooler weather. We pick cooler, but not too cold, times when we can walk the city and take in the atmosphere without the discomfort of the heat. Also, it’s a great time to wear some fashionable attire. Still… pack lightly!
  • Plan to travel during the week. Many take advantage of weekends to avoid using too many vacation days. If you can fly out on a Wednesday or even split the weekend and depart on a Saturday, you may find less expensive options. Departing on Fridays and Mondays and returning on Sundays are typically most expensive.
  • Become an early riser or a late owl! Travel times with departures very early in the morning or returning home very late in the evening typically have lower fares. I once scored a great deal on a flight. I departed at 6:15am on a Saturday and returned at 11:45pm on a Tuesday.
  • Be OK with reasonable layovers. Notice the word REASONABLE is in bold print. Some layovers are ridiculously long. If you have the time, you can save $$$. However, you may score a deal by enduring a layover that will allow you to recharge, check in with family, explore an airport or have a decent meal at one of the many restaurants and meet new friends. The extreme adventurers fly STANDBY! It’s a gamble, put it pays off financially. Flying standby requires ultimate flexibility, in my opinion.
  • What about lodging? Convenience dictates a hotel near the airport or near sites and attractions. We love to be close to the action! A convenient location is what we focus on for our clients. However, when trying to save some cash, hotels just outside your desired area can translate into big savings. Many destinations have either public or private transportation options that will get you where you need to be. Transportation isn’t free, so advanced research is key to ensure the sacrifice will pay off.
There are many more ways to adjust your itinerary to save money. As travel experts, we love sharing our experiences and enjoy helping with planning your vacation. It’s starts with a conversation. We listen. You talk. That way we pick up on what you want out of your vacation and assist with all the different ways to save.