During a recent trip, I had the pleasure of talking with a retired couple who are spending their golden years touring the world. Italy, China, Mexico, Hawaii — they’ve seen it all, and some places more than once. While I didn’t want to ask personal questions about how they could afford such luxurious trips, I was amazed that this seemingly-average couple was able to achieve travel goals that most can only dream of.
They had some great tips for budget travel that I eagerly soaked up. After all, I’d like to see more than the foothills of Appalachia before my time on earth is up.
Try Vacationing Abroad
One suggestion I found particularly intriguing was to vacation outside the United States. Even accounting for airfare, the couple claimed it’s often cheaper to book a vacation abroad than it is to vacation in a nearby state.
Booking a year or two in advance helps them get package deals and cheap rates. They also don’t usually use a travel agent, saving more money by booking trips themselves over the internet. Comparison shopping for travel and vacations can really rack up the savings.
Look for All-Inclusive Deals
All-inclusive vacations are a good deal if you like to eat often and eat well. The cost of surf and turf dinners can easily chip into your vacation budget, unless you go for an all-inclusive deal. Nightly drinks and access to entertainment are often bundled into all-inclusive packages, saving you even more money if you plan to participate in these activities.
However, if you spend more time eating light meals and taking in the local sights on vacation, the all-inclusive price may not be worth it. Examine your habits and determine if a package deal is right for you.
Save Money with Impulsive Trips
While vacationing in Miami, Florida, one family found the cost of eating out to be ridiculously high. To save money, they impulsively booked a three-day cruise leaving from Miami for the weekend. The cruise provided nightly entertainment, safe activities for their teenagers, and all-you-can-eat buffets 24 hours a day — not to mention sights and experiences at ports of call. This was all for one low price that was far less than decent restaurant meals and and a hotel room for the weekend.
Check the Reviews
One nugget of advice from my new travel sage friends was to always check reviews before booking a package vacation. If there are hidden costs or unexpected expenses, these are likely to show up in the reviews. Resorts or luxury getaways often sound like a great deal until you read the fine print.
For example, the $200 in free vouchers for spa services at one resort was actually broken down into four separate activities, with price restrictions before use. In order to get your free $40 spa service, you had to book an hour long session that cost $160. And that $10 voucher for a bottle of wine may only be good on a selection with a price point higher than $50. Added up, some freebies aren’t freebies at all — but rather, cleverly disguised sales pitches.
What are your best budget travel tips?