One of the most important steps in planning and paying for your vacation is the booking process. Often times people find a very low rate online and just book the vacation without reading the fine print. These “teaser” rates often times are bare bone offers and you soon find out that everything is extra. There are all sorts of hidden hotel fees, transportation fees, taxes. So please do your homework before you book. Vacations also can come with cancellation fees and penalties so this is another reason to research your trip before booking.
Use a Travel Agent, There are good ones that are Free
We are happy to help plan your vacation and at no cost to you. People often don’t understand how this works. Each property, vendor, destination, etc., pays us a small commission to help travelers, families and groups with their vacations. This allows the vendor or destination to reduce costs and they pass a little bit of that savings to us as their specialist to help you plan your trip. The price of the trip does not go up for you. The price is the same or lower if we help you plan and book it.
So that is the reason I would recommend a travel agent. You don’t have to use us as your travel agent, of course we would love to help you with travel adventures, but any great travel agent that you are comfortable with can help you.
Something people overlook in the vacation booking process is that if you have a travel agent you talk to the same person every time. So you are not calling a call center and your agent knows you and what your vacation style is. They also are your advocate. So if things did go wrong at your resort, you have someone to help you as well.
I would also use a travel agent because they are aware of the current promotions and all inclusive vacation packages. So your agent might be able to find other ways to save you money that you did not find on your own.
The next big money saver when booking your vacation is when you book and when you travel. These two criteria can save you big bucks.
When you Book Your Vacation
If you are a planner you can save money by booking your vacation well in advance. When I say well in advance I am talking about a year out or more. This is especially true for cruises that have limited availability. Some cruise lines the price is never cheaper than the day the sail dates are announced. As more and more staterooms fill up the price increases. So a $3,000 price tag could go up $500 in a few days or even more if that category sells out while you wait. Also booking in advance allows you plenty of time to plan your vacation.
The other way to save is by doing the exact opposite, book late. We have gotten some amazing cruise and vacation deals by booking last minute. You can really save some money. The disadvantage to booking last minute deals is that you have to be able to get up and go right then, or often the trip is in a week or two. Also last minute offers might not be the most ideal location, time, or destination. You have to be ok, getting what’s left and for a cruise that might be a stateroom on the bottom floor that did not sell. But as long as you can be spontaneous and you know what you are getting for your vacation dollars, you can score some amazing vacation deals.
When you Travel
Another way to save when booking your vacation is by your travel dates. If you want to travel when everyone else does the price is going to go up. It’s simple supply and demand. If the kids are out of school then families are taking them on vacations. If you have a family and home school your kids, take your vacation when others can not. Lines at tourist attractions will be smaller and prices will be lower for vacation packages, cruises, hotels etc. So go in the off season. You can also save by going to locations in there off season. So head to Hilton Head Island not during the summer months but during winter. Of course you need to change your activities but if you can adapt you can save.
Compare apples to apples
This is a very important point when booking your vacation and I want to hit on this again.
When you are looking to book a vacation you need to compare apples to apples. Get the total price and determine the dollar value for extras that might be in one offer and not in another. If one vacation offers free transfers from the airport to your resort and back, that can save you $40 a person on a shuttle in some cases. Your hotel room might look like a great deal until you check in and get a $20 daily self parking fee and a $20 local call, newspaper fee. Add Internet for $10 a day and quickly that hotel that you thought was $10 a day less than the nicer one you did not book, is actually costing you more.
Also check airlines. With extra baggage fees, fees to pick your seat, carry on luggage fees, fees for checking in at the airport counter and more, a cheap flight easily can add up to more than a standard airline flight. If you know how to play the game, weigh your luggage at home, check in at home, only bring a carry on you can save money, but when you can’t print your return flight boarding passes at your hotel and have to check in at the desk some airlines will use that opportunity to hit you with extra fees.
Let’s Recap how to save money when booking your vacation.
- Use a Travel Agent
- Book Early
- Book Last Minute Deals
- Travel in the off season
- Compare Apples to Apples
If you have some vacation booking tips that saved you a ton of money, please share them with everyone here in the community.
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Go To Step 3 – Figuring Out Where to go
Go to the start: 4 Steps to Planning Your Vacation