Ready, Set, Save!

Travel Series: Volume 5

 

I want to talk about some great ways to save on your up front travel costs.  What I mean by up front travel costs, is the price of booking your tour, hotel, cruise or airfare.  Up front costs usually make up the largest expense for your trip.  Saving money here is very important in keeping the overall trip affordable.

Timing is Everything!  Both when you book your trip and when you take it are important factors.  If you can utilize a time outside of the “high season” to travel, you will save money for sure.  And if you take advantage of deals and discounts offered certain times a year for your booking, you will save even more.

Here is a break down of the travel seasons:

Shoulder Season:   The time between high and low season in a travel market.

Off (Low) Season:   The time of year when the least people travel to an area.

High Season:   The time of year when the most people travel to an area.

Here is example pricing on one trip for different travel seasons.

LOW SHOULDER HIGH
$3,538 $3,695 $3,825

Cost Saver:                         Provides lodging and transportation without all the frills.

LOW SHOULDER HIGH
$1,960 $2,070 $2,140

So the trips I priced above were from the same Tour Company for very similar itineraries including 7 countries in 14 days.

Trip 1 includes airport transfers, all hotel accommodations, all transportation during the trip, many guided city tours, breakfast daily and half the dinners.

This trip includes top notch accomodations and provides all the bells and whistles of a first class vacation. A good blend of included tours and free time.

Trip 2 includes airport transfers, all hotel accommodations (not city center), all transportation on the trip and breakfast daily.

This trip brings the base cost down to a super affordable rate. It’s great that it covers the reservations and travel, but still allows you to explore independently.

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Sales Events:          Most tour operators, cruises and airlines all have their own particular time each year when they mark down their products or offer great  additional bonus items or 2 for 1 specials.

For the Tour Company above, they sell trips for the next year at current prices in the month of August. Having travelled with them before, I discovered this fact, and was able to secure Trip 1 in early high season for $2970!  I also knew that they offer discounts on flights regularly, but in October they offer a huge savings on airfare.  So I booked the trip in August and grabbed A BUY 1 GET 1 FREE air deal in October.  Trip savings $900 Air savings $1700= Total savings $2600!! Thanks to my Travel Agent, Elizabeth, for not letting me jump the gun and miss that deal! She actually had the airline on another phone line when she called with that limited time deal.

The Cruise Industry-wide sales seasons.  During Wave Season(January through March) and Plan a Cruise Month(October)  most cruise vendors offer incredible deals and lots of Bonus incentives.  Some bonuses you can expect are 2 for 1 bookings or if you book 2 people the  3rd and 4th guests sail free, room upgrades, ship spend credits and bonus hotels at either end of your trip.

Last Minute Travel:         Deals to fill trips, flights or hotels that haven’t booked to the limit and Vendors discount the product to avoid a total loss.

Hotels, Cruise Lines and Tour Operators do not make any money off empty spots. Therefore, when they get close, they start to slash the prices to fill the bookings.  Some money to them is better than no money!  So if you are flexible enough to be able to jump on one of these deals, you can easily cut your expenses in half or more.

In 2000 my husband and I booked a 7 day cruise in February that departed in April. That’s cutting it close! The base price for 2 was around $2400 but we paid $1200 and got  a room upgrade!

Discount Apps:        Groupon, Living Social, and other bargain sites sometimes bundle Hotel and air packages at amazing prices. There are a ton of Travel Sites like Travelocity, Expedia, and Kayak out there to help you be your own Travel Agent. Apps and sites like AirBnB, VRBO and HomeAway are also great ways to grab deals on lodging.  We will dig a little deeper into these programs in an upcoming post.

Direct Buys:            Since buying direct cuts out the middle man, it often affords much cheaper prices on travel plans.  So if you book directly through say Carnival for a cruise instead of using a travel site, you can save a lot of built in costs.

Sometimes, however, it works the exact opposite. The Travel Broker has a way of slashing their prices while the company continues to sell at full price. Always check both ways! If you are looking on say Travelocity at Hotel X, then follow up by checking Hotel X’s website before booking to be sure you get the best deal.

Aggrigators:  An aggregator, like Google Flights or Priceline, gathers prices on many hotels or airlines and sifts through them for you when you put in your travel dates. They provide you with a list of potential flights or hotels and prices that you can choose from if you book through their site.  If you are in a hurry, and money is no option, this is a great way to find a decent price quickly.  These companies do not do this for free.  Somewhere in the price, there is a fee paid to them.  So if you cut them out and go straight to the airline you may be able to get as good or better of a deal without a booking fee to the aggregator.  Southwest airlines does not use aggregators, so make sure you check their rates directly.  They offer a lot of economy flights to a wide range of locations.

There’s always a deal out there, you just have to want it badly enough to spend the time doing the research to get it. Every dollar saved on up front travel costs is a dollar to spend while on your trip!

Next Post I show you where to find extra money for your travel fund. 

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