15 Essential Tips for Planning YOUR Next Trip!
“You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”
- Yogi Berra
Half the fun of travel is the anticipation and planning, but it can also be frustrating and overwhelming. How can you take that vacation you dream of and not blow your budget!?
It’s YOUR trip – First of all, you need to be clear about what kind of trip you want:
- What kind of experience do you want to have?
- What is/isn’t negotiable?
- What are your priorities?
- What is your budget?
15 Ways to Trim Your Travel Budget – Now, let’s find ways to make YOUR trip a reality:
1. Redefine/downsize your vacation: Be creative in ways to go on a smaller budget or to a destination where values are still available. Stay for fewer days, shop for bargains & kid friendly (free) accommodations, Sure, you may have to go for fewer days and make a few compromises, but it will all be worth it!
2. Consolidate: Combine that special occasion/family visit with a vacation together. (More on multi-generational travel.)
3. Don’t wait for the “perfect” time, airfare, rate, etc.: Put together a budget and work within it…now! Be realistic, then add a little extra for unexpected expenditures and souvenirs.
4. Plan ahead: If you have inflexible travel dates, it pays to plan ahead and book early, especially if you are traveling during peak seasons/holidays.
5. Off peak travel: If possible travel during the off peak/shoulder seasons. By avoiding holidays, spring and summer vacations, you can avoid the crowds and save $.
6. Booking air travel: Be as flexible as you can – avoid weekend travel – try different days and times of day. (More tips on booking air travel.)
7. “Bundle” your travel whenever possible: Look for package deals. For example, book your flight/hotel and/or car together. Look for packages that include transfers, car rentals, admissions & any other extras.
8. Consider vacation packages and tours: They’ve done all of the legwork for you! Not only can you take advantage of their expertise and advantageous rates but they often include expensive extras (e.g., transfers), and help you to avoid hassles and hidden costs.
9. Consider a tour or an all-inclusive vacation destination: Gaining in popularity, they make travel so easy and literally offer something for every one! Pricing typically includes accommodations, meals, refreshment, airport transfers, select activities, and much more. You just can’t beat the value and ease of all-inclusive destinations…far and away one of the best travel values around. (More about choosing a tour.)
10. Cruising is hot! Cruises are becoming an increasingly popular choice for value and hassle-free travel. Incentives to book early, stateroom upgrades, and free or discounted airfare are common. Remember, popular destinations and itineraries book 6-12 months in advance, but deposit/cancellation policies are very liberal, so don’t wait if you want to ensure that you’ll get your first choice of dates, itinerary and stateroom.
11. Last minute deals: If you are flexible and can be spontaneous, there are always great deals as the airlines, hotels & resorts and cruise lines, etc. want to fill those last spots. They do come up and fill quickly so check often and have your bags packed!
12. Traveling with children: Be sure to check regarding policies for children. Often small children can stay free or at greatly reduced rates.
13. When is a bargain not a bargain? When you researched, compared, and booked air, hotel, car rental, etc., and you didn’t read the fine print! Don’t be surprised by costly details. Be clear about what is included and excluded (e.g. taxes, supplemental fees, fuel or port charges, etc.) If not, what are they? What are the cancellation or change policies/fees? Ask questions and be sure that you understand their policies before you sign on the dotted line!
14. Travel insurance: Prepare for the unexpected. No one likes to think that anything could happen on their vacation, but it can. For peace of mind, travel insurance is a good investment. Check to see what your homeowners’ policy and credit card companies include. Ask about it if it isn’t offered or explained to you. (More on travel insurance.)
15. Shop and compare: Get help! How much is your time worth? The average consumer spends 15-20 hours online researching their next vacation! Why waste time and money? Let the experts (me!) help you to find and narrow down the best options for you based on your preferences and budget.
More Great Advice:
What useful TipZ can you share about how you plan your trips and vacations? Please share!