If we’re being honest then we have to admit that some of the blogs that we write about are kind of dry. Seriously, how much can you read about saving money on gasoline or investing for your retirement before your brain turns to mush? Hey, we eat, sleep and breathe this stuff and even we need a break once in a while. That’s why today we have a little bit of a treat for you guys as we’re going to give you some information about how to save money on your next vacation. (It had to be about money because, well, that’s our thing.)
The simple fact is that, after weeks and months of working hard and keeping your nose to the grindstone, a nice vacation is your just reward. Of course, there’s no sense blowing everything you’ve saved just to have a week’s worth of fun in the sun, especially when there are so many ways to have an awesome vacation on a budget. So before you start planning your next trip take a look at our blog and educate yourself on how to do it on the cheap. Enjoy.
Unless you take a cruise you’re going to need a hotel to stay in while you’re away. Knowing that hotels have quarterly quotas puts you in the driver seat because, if you book near the end of the quarter, hotel workers will be more likely to give you a break rather than see you go to another place. The best times of the year are at the end of March, June, September and December, as this is when the quarter will be closing. Even better, the date that you’re going to check-in doesn’t matter to them as much as the time that it’s booked. If your vacation time isn’t set in stone and your travel dates are flexible you can ask the hotel when they expect to have the most vacancies. It is during this time that they will also be more willing to give you a better deal on your price, sometimes up to 50% off of normal rates.
Once you’ve arrived you’ll want to talk with your hotel’s concierge and find out everything you can about the local entertainment, nightlife and other attractions. A good concierge will know what to do, where to go and when to do it and will also have the inside skinny on promotions, discounts and so forth. The best time to see your hotel’s concierge is usually after 6 o’clock at night. By then they’ve gotten through the bulk of their day and will have much more time to spend with you and help you plan your activities. Butter them up a little bit and you’ll probably get some coupons and other goodies that you can use all over town.
Unless you’re staying in an all-inclusive resort and don’t plan on leaving you will probably need a vehicle to get around and sightsee. The best days of the week to rent a car are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Most business travelers have usually arrived and have gotten their cars by then and you will also beat the weekend rush. If you arrive and the size car that you have isn’t available we would advise you to never pay an extra charge for a larger car as most car rental companies will upgrade you for free. The fact is, if you reserved a compact car and they rented them all out it’s really not your fault and you shouldn’t have to pay extra. The best time to go for getting a free upgrade is in the middle of the day as the morning rush has ended and the afternoon rush hasn’t started yet. If they don’t offer an upgrade you can always ask for one and, if you are sweet and they are in a good mood, there is a good likelihood you’ll get what you ask for.
If you are planning on visiting an island resort, whether it’s the Hawaiian Islands, in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean, the best time of year is from May to October. The reason is simple; from November through April the vast majority of people are taking vacation and so you will definitely pay higher rates for any island resort, hotel or vacation package that you choose. During the summer months much fewer people go to the islands because the weather where they live in sunny and warm. Use this to your advantage and take a trip to the islands when nobody’s there and the prices are sometimes dirt cheap.
If you’re keen on cruising the best two months of the year are in April and November. The reason for this is that most cruise lines move their ships around for seasonal route changes at this time. Since any voyage with a vehicle that has an engine the size of a small office building is expensive, the cruise lines will sometimes discount airfares up to 50% to fill their cabins and at least make some gas money. During these times you can also take advantage of many of the onboard amenities like spa treatments as they will be at a discount and there will be much fewer people using them. You’ll not only get them cheaper but you’ll probably get better service as the crew members taking care of you won’t be quite as rushed.
If visiting a big city is on your list at vacation time you’ll probably want to go in January and February. Keep in mind that in many big cities like New York, Paris and Québec this is also wintertime and make sure that you pack warmer. The fact is, right after the holidays all of the tourists clear out and it’s easier (and much cheaper) to get flights, book hotel rooms, get restaurant reservations and get tickets to shows and attractions. If you’re lucky you might even find post-holiday sales at some of your favorite department stores. There are of course cities like Rome and Venice that have much milder winters so, if you’re keen on visiting a big city but you don’t want to freeze, consider going somewhere south in Europe or even South America.
At the end of the day you work hard and you deserve a break every once in a while. If you’re the kind of person that is a diligent saver, puts money in your retirement account often and uses their budget wisely, you may be loath to spend money on something frivolous like a vacation. Trust us, it can really recharge your batteries and is a worthwhile investment. With that in mind, just use the common sense you use every day on all your other financial matters and have a good time.
So go! We’ll be here when you get back!