4 Tips to Help You Vacation for Less

by Jamie Simmerman · 4 comments

Summer vacation

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? 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

John S @ Frugal Rules May 16, 2013 at 6:01 am

Good post! That’s crazy that taking a 3 day cruise would be cheaper than staying in Miami, but I think I would prefer the cruise anyway. :)

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Bert May 16, 2013 at 9:53 am

Once an initial RV investment is managed, there is nothing cheaper, and more rewarding, than camping out. My current motorhome is (probably) my last purchase in that regard. I started with a pop up camper, moving up through 2 travel trailers, one Class B, and my previous Class A unit. For longer destinations, park free on the way at Walmart, or rest areas. One tip I learned the hard way: unless you plan to be driving a couple million miles, stick with a medium sized V-10 gasoline motored RV. Diesels are for trucking. For the budget conscious, blue book values for these begin to decline drastically at about five years old. Good hunting! By the way, camping out is not restricted to wildernesses and off the beaten track., There are campgrounds all over the place, including vacation oriented cities like Las Vegas and the largest of metropolises. There are also exotic trips to try. We once crossed the Panama Canal in our Class B, were gone for the entire summer, and spent less than a daily hotel room would cost, including fuel. Camper’s World is a great place to visit first for ideas and availability, but a private purchase is generally the way to go. I used to see my bus parked in a yard I passed while commuting, finally knocking on the door and inquiring. When she gave me an asking price, it was all I could manage to maintain a poker face while negotiating. I estimate I saved 40% over retail this way.

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Debt Blag May 16, 2013 at 10:44 am

It depends on where abroad, but they’re certainly right for the oft-traveled routes to Mexico and Puerto Rico. If I’m flying from New York, there are tons of cheap Puerto Rico flights because of the big population here…

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Property Marbella May 18, 2013 at 4:59 am

Last minute trips can be real bargains sometimes. Of course, you have to check so no extra costs will come when you are there.

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