Planning a vacation is sometimes a dreaded task for some, but if you are a bargain hunter, like me, vacation planning can be fun. Seriously. If you have some flexibility in terms of where you are going, and when, the planning can be even more fun! It's like starting with a blank canvas, waiting for the first swipe of a paintbrush.
These are a few basic tips to keep in mind to help find some deals for your upcoming summer travel:
1 - Be as Flexible as Possible - the more leeway you have in terms of your travel destination and/or dates, the more you can potentially take advantage of last minute promotions. In terms of a hotel, some hotels may offer last minute discounts to fill their hotels.
2 - Monitor Prices - This is a suggestion you will hear me make over and over and over again. Keeping an eye on average prices for accommodations and/or flights/transportation for the destinations you are considering helps you be able to identify whether a deal is TRULY a deal. Some websites can "inflate" what the regular price of a hotel room may be, for example. I have seen websites claim they are offering 50% off a hotel room rate, and that the sale price is $100, but if you are monitoring prices you may notice that it is rare that those hotel rooms are RARELY offered at a price higher than $100. The non-sale price they quote may be a price that was charged at one time, perhaps at a time of high demand.
3 - Consider all Booking Sources - I often use discount travel websites like Booking.com, Expedia, Priceline and others to identify cheap rates, but after I find a price I'm interested in at a hotel I am interested in, I always check the hotel's website directly to see if they are offering similar prices or even further discounts. Booking through a discount travel website can sometimes mean you are waiving the opportunity to earn travel or other loyalty points by booking through that site. Be sure you read the rate conditions to know if you can earn points on your stay. The other consideration is if you belong to the hotel's loyalty program, they can sometimes offer discounted rates only available to members. And if you have an "enhanced" membership (perhaps a higher level because of the frequency of staying with their chain) there may be even further discount. Some hotel loyalty programs offer you "added benefits" to your rate, which may include things like free parking, free breakfast, free access to a VIP lounge, etc. These are all things that should be considered.
4 - Consider "out-of-the-box" accommodations - Perhaps you always stay in hotels when you travel, or maybe you only stay in rental properties, considering other options may save you some money in the long run. Some examples:
- Rental properties sometimes offer additional space and amenities (like a private pool) that you wouldn't get in a hotel. Rental properties may also offer last minute discounts to fill their rental.
- Hotels, similar to Rental properties, may offer amenities not available in other accommodations, such as Concierge service, airport shuttles, shuttles to theme parks, and discounts to on-site restaurants.
- Glamping - This is a balance between "camping" and hotel accommodations. These are often tents or other similar accommodations with real beds, and other enhanced features over a simple tent. They are often cheaper than hotel rooms (there are some exceptions) and offer a really unique experience. This is a good option if you are interested in camping, with out all of the labour.
- Camping - This option is obvious. If you like tenting or maybe you have a trailer, campsite rates are frequently significantly cheaper than the other accommodation options.
Our "Glamping" accommodations in Alma, NB, in 2018.
5 - If you are interested in specific accommodations, follow their social media accounts, where possible. This is particularly relevant if you are planning to stay at a privately owned property. They have more control over the promotions they offer. Sometimes these facilities will post last minute specials on their websites. As an example, there is a very unique tree house accommodation site in New Brunswick who, regularly, last summer would post discounts on stays in their tree houses the week a week prior to dates that still remained available in those accommodations. Sometimes the discounts were up to 45% off! I've also seen some campgrounds offer bonuses like free firewood, or complimentary smores supplies with last minute bookings.
6 - Where possible - prepare your own food - Eating at restaurants can add up to a significant amount of your travel budget. While sometimes it's unavoidable, if you can avoid it, it can greatly affect your budget. If you are staying in a place that doesn't include breakfast, just bringing cereal with you can really affect your budget.
Those are a few tips to help you control your budget for summer travel. If you are planning to travel by air, check out my tips on saving money on airfare here: http://www.overtiredmama.com/2019/01/travelling-on-budget-series-part-2.html
Do you have your own tips? Have you used any of these tips?
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