Who wouldn’t enjoy vacation savings? Not many people that I know. I always appreciate saving money for my vacation up front, because it gives me more money to spend later. (I’m a shopper!) Read on to find out some of my favorite vacation savings tips.
Vacation Savings Tip 1
Consider Travel Dates & Locations
This seems pretty self-explanatory, right? Well… It can be more complex than you believe. Of course, flights and pricing go up for Holiday vacations. What about the rest of the time? Consider booking during the slower months, like September. While general pricing may vary by dates, it may also vary by the location. While the Caribbean is typically cheaper during the Holidays, it can be more expensive during Spring Break and the summer months.
Best Times to Book
- The first two weeks of December offers great pricing. Surprising, right? I thought so, too, but it makes a lot of sense. During this time, people are planning for the Holidays. Students are preparing for and taking their finals. Schools are preparing for Holiday breaks. What better time than then to take a vacation.
- After the first week of January, it is a time period when prices drop. It is a great time to book a vacation. Book between the middle of January to the beginning of February. When you decide to wait until mid-February, you run the risk of Valentine’s Day pricing. This is a time period when couples travel, and pricing tends to increase.
- Spring is a little tricky, so let me clarify. Booking during the times, besides Spring Break (late February to May), tend to yield savings. However, the location plays a major part in the savings.
- Fall travel can also yield a lot of savings, as September and October are least traveled months. Therefore, airlines decrease their flight prices during these two months. Children are just getting back to school, and it leaves time for adults to travel freely. Airport security lines are lighter, and it makes for less of a headache.
If You Couldn’t Tell… Location is Everything!
The location dictates airfare and budgeting. Holidays may busy up airports and may raise airfare for some destinations, but it allows for great deals in other locations. Before booking a trip, if you are flexible with the dates, check for the best time to travel that is the most cost-effective. If you are not flexible with the dates but are flexible with the location, find the most cost-effective locations.
Vacation Savings Tip 2
Booking Directly Through the Sites
A lot of third-party sites seem enticing because of their comparison rates. However, I have often found the best deals by booking through the sites directly. There is competition between the airlines and hotels, the third party sites, and travel agents (could be considered a third-party).
In order to compete, the sites offer better rates and deals than the third-party sites. Why wouldn’t airlines and hotels prefer people booking through them? More money for them! (It’s business people.)
Personally, I prefer booking direct, because it often saves fewer annoyances later. Occasionally, when booking through a third party site, there are additional fees that must be paid. For hotels, sometimes you may have to pay an additional fee (not including a deposit) versus when you pay the hotel directly.
Plus, I would hate for there to be some kind of miscommunication. I’d be angry if I show up, and there’s no room waiting for me. (UGH! I don’t even want to think about it.)
Third party sites, especially airlines, need to make their money some way, so all of what you pay is not strictly for the flight. (That should be a given, though. No one enjoys working for free.) AND (I know it is not always appropriate to start a sentence with this) it helps to book directly when you have flexible dates. Southwest has the Low Fare rates that are not found outside of the website.
Vacation Savings Tip 3
Plan Ahead or Be Spontaneous
Here’s the deal. When booking a trip, sometimes the best savings come from planning far ahead or last-minute. Sounds pretty strange, doesn’t it? Maybe. In my experience, it tends to be cheaper when you plan further ahead or when you wait until the very last minute.
For example, I had to book a flight to and from New York over the summer. I knew that I would probably need to book the flight five months beforehand. Well, I waited until two weeks before my trip, and I got a steal of a deal. The only infuriating part is that my flight decreased another $50 two days after I booked. (Cue eye roll. I was pretty annoyed, that’s a new pair of shoes.) It was the same thing when booking the flights for our Disney vacation.
Now… that’s not to say that you will get lucky EVERY time you decide to wait until the last minute. That is to say that it is possible to luck up on great deals. Another thing is to just plan the trip further ahead. When a flight starts getting filled, those prices rise.
If you are traveling on fixed dates, try to secure the flights as soon as possible. If I planned to travel during the Holidays, I would try to book a year out. Again… I’m not making guarantees, but it can be helpful to go ahead and book before prices rise. Sometimes you might have to just bite the bullet.
Vacation Savings Tip 4
Budget the Trip, and Stick to It
It can be easy to lose control of how much you are spending when you do not have a set plan. Just like any other aspect of saving money, always budget the vacation. Determining a set amount will allow for the best deals and savings.
Include your spending money in your budget, and try to set everything aside up front. That way, you will not have to worry about coming up with more money. If you decide to bring more, on top of what was already set aside, then great!
Come up with an overall budget. Hotel and airline pricing is always changing, so it would be difficult to officially allocate your budget. You may, but it would be easier to have an overall budget and work from there.
Once you set your budget, stick to it. Again, it’s always great to add more spending money or additional funds, but the point of setting a budget is to stick to it. The point is to save money. Just keep in mind, even an unlimited budget is a budget. (wink, wink)
Vacation Savings Tip 5
Consider Using a Travel Agent
Believe it or not, some of the best deals and savings come from booking through travel agents. I know, this post is giving some conflicting advice. Use whatever method works best for you. My job is to provide options that work best for you.
The purpose of suggesting a travel agent is simple. Their job is to plan vacations for others. They get special discounts and rates, AND you can set up payment plans through them. Much like third-party sites, they make a commission. (Again, who likes to work for free.)
Give them your budget, dates, destination(s), and let them work their magic. They can provide activities, accommodation options, transportation opens, and flights all-in-one. My favorite part is the payment plans. It gives you time to set the money aside and/or pay over time. (That’s great for people like me. It makes me feel better to break payments up as opposed to paying all at once. It just makes me feel like I’m spending less even though I’m not.)
What are some of your favorite vacation savings ideas? Let me know in the comments below. Who knows… it may be featured in a future post! Oh! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my Wanderlust List and more Money Saving Hacks.