When most people go on vacation, first and foremost they are looking for a great vacation EXPERIENCE. I see that almost no one remembers the precise amount of money spent. 3, 5, 10 years after the vacation is over, all they remember is whether they had a great time or not. Having said this, I truly believe that money is still important when going on vacation. Here are some saving tips.
1. Book as early as possible I know that it is not always realistic to know when you are going on vacation. However, if you have a chance to plan early, do it! For example, I had clients who booked one week of Club Med Yucatan for a family of 4 in June for the following March, 10 months in advance. They paid $3,700 for Club Med, including direct airfare from New York. The same vacation package on semi-annual sale 6 months later was more than $1,000 more. There are many clients who book Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations back in May, summer vacations in November and so on.
2. Have vacation off-season If you take your vacation off-season and avoid peak travel time you can save significant amount of money. Try traveling to the Caribbean in early December, to Europe in spring time, or Disney World in early December or January after school starts.
3. Avoid flying on weekends In many instances, if you fly, for example, on Saturdays you will pay premium prices compared when flying mid week.
4. Fly with stop-overs I know that most people like to fly direct and don't consider flying with stop overs. However, it may be a very good alternative if you would like to be on the budget. We have three kids and travel with them a lot. Even though we always consider direct flight options first, in many instances we don't mind to fly with stop overs. Basically it is a trade off whether we want to pay, let's say $200 per ticket, or go to a nicer resort.
5. Look for 'deals' Yes - 'deals' exist and Yes - you can save some money. But to get it right you need to follow various deals like watching stock market. It can go up and down at any moment. If you enjoy doing so, then sure it can be a viable option. If you want to take vacation not at the ideal resort or cruise, but only at those that gives you the best deal, sure you can do it as well. I always go other way around. First I choose a destination/resort/cruise experience that works for us and then look how to make it within our budget.
6. Book hotels with an option to cancel before arriving Very frequently when going to some touristy destinations such as Rome, Paris, London it makes sense to reserve what you like and very close to your budget and then rebook it if you find that yours or similar hotel becomes cheaper. At the least you have guarantees that you have a nice hotel to stay. Otherwise, if you wait for a 'deal', it may happen that there are no available hotels and you overpay and/or stay in less desirable hotel.
7. Book your tours while at home You can argue that you can book your tours from locals and it will be cheaper. Yes - it is true, you can book while on vacation and it maybe cheaper. However at that time you have limited control what tours to choose and it might be more expensive. The major reason why I like booking it while at home because I want to do my homework and first and foremost find best tour guides.
8. Do minimal grocery shopping while on vacation I totally understand that when you are going on vacation you don't want to burden yourself with grocery shopping. However you might save a lot if you do even minimal grocery shopping. For example, when eating out in Turks and Caicos is very expensive to say the least. If you get cereal, bagels, fruit, juice boxes and snacks for your kids it will help your wallet.