Travel Tip #2: Champagne Vacations on a Boones Farm Budget

Have you been dreaming about a destination that seems out of reach financially? Where there is a will, there is a way. With smart research & proper planning, you can save a ton of money on your dream vacation. Here are few things to consider:

1. Plan ahead. Know your destination, approximate dates of travel (even if it’s just a preferred month) and your budget. This will allow you to take advantage of a great deal when the opportunity is presented.

2. Airline tickets — When should you buy airline tickets?
    a. For domestic & off-peak international travel, I recommend booking 3 months to 14 days prior. If you are flying international during peak season, you should be prepared to buy your ticket 4-9 months before your trip. I’ve noticed a trend of discounted airfares offered late summer for fall & winter travel to Europe.

    b. DO’s & DONT’s

        i. DO be flexible. You can save a couple of hundred dollars by being able to move your departure or return date by 1 or 2 days.
       ii. DON’T buy a ticket on the weekends. Ticket prices are highest during this time. 
       iii. DO buy your ticket on a Tuesday around 3pm. Pricing trends have shown that many sales are launched on Monday nights which offer discounts of 15%-25%. Competitors tend to match these offers on Tuesday morning. By 3pm, fares are as cheap as they are going to get for the week. Deals usually expire by Thursday or Friday so snap up a good deal no later than Thursday.
      iv. DON’T fly on a Monday, Friday or Sunday as these are the most expensive tickets.
       v. DO fly on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday to get the cheapest flight.

    c. Get the social media edge by “liking” (on Facebook) or following (on Twitter) airlines. They have started to tweet & post hour-long airfare sales which can be to your advantage.

    d. Available resources: Check out Bing Travel
        i. This site aggregates information from online travel sites (Priceline, Expedia, Travelocity, Hotwire and BookingBuddy).
       ii. It also has Price Predictor — a tool that is based on historical pricing trends. Has a green, yellow, red stoplight theme which will recommend to either buy now or wait.
      iii. It posts last minute deals. You can get a good deal with last minute deals but it’s a huge gamble. This is really for those who decide today they want to go someplace this weekend.

3. Hotel or Vacation Rental? You can generally save a ton of money by renting an apartment, flat, house of villa. Vacation Rentals typically require you book for a minimum number of nights. You can purchase food & make your own breakfast & lunch (which will save you a ton). Most usually have washers & dryers so you can do a load of laundry which will keep your luggage lighter (and guarantees no over-the-limit baggage fees). I’ve booked a flat in London for 5 people for New Years Eve and we are paying only $250 per person for 5 nights. I will cover the ins and outs of vacation rentals in Tip #5.

4. Buy train tickets in advance. You can take advantage of great deals which can save you up to 50%.

5. Dining. Eat at local Mom & Pop restaurants in non-touristy parts of the city. The food is phenomenal and 1/3 of the price you will pay for average fare next to a famous monument.

6. Tours. Check out last-minute tours on Viator. This site is great and they usually have tours that are 20% off the day before or of.

7. Consider a cruise. It’s an all-inclusive which makes it cheaper than doing a land-only vacation. Plus, it allows you to hit several locations in a short amount of time.

Bottom line…organization & planning will save you a good amount of money. Money that you can spend on your next vacation!