Plan in Advance (Or Don’t)
It’s a universal truth; the earlier you plan your vacation, the less money you’ll spend and the better the packages you have to choose from will be. If your time has run out, however, don’t panic.
Sometimes waiting until the last minute can work in your favor because hotels and travel agencies are anxious to unload the packages that haven’t sold as well as expected. This means you can rake in some serious discounts if you’re okay with changing your plans or jetting off at the last minute.
If you plan your trip well in advance you are more likely to get what you want at a decent price, while if you wait until the last minute to do your homework then you are more likely to get a killer deal for a trip you never expected.
Know What You Want
Before you begin your holiday package search, make a list of the kinds of things you would want in your dream package. If money were no object, would you rather stay in a secluded bungalow or a family friendly resort? Would you rather have the freedom to explore local restaurants and bars or would you prefer that meals and drinks be inclusive? Are you looking for adventure or relaxation?
Your answers may not be practical or affordable, but they will paint a pretty clear picture of the kind of vacation you’re looking to enjoy. That way, when you start your search, you won’t become dazzled by super cheap offers for packages you don’t actually want to experience. After all; what good is it to save three hundred dollars on a fly fishing adventure when what you really wanted was a cabin in the mountains?
Beware; there are tons of aggregate travel sites out there that claim to compare multiple offers for you, but they almost always have an agenda. Make sure you are getting the best deal possible by completing the legwork yourself.
Once you’ve got a checklist of your holiday package “musts” and “wishes” (as outlined in the paragraph above) you can start crafting a list of packages that hit somewhere near the mark. Write down their dates, locations, amenities, and prices.
Once you have four or five, you can start comparing. It will be tempting to go with the cheapest since by this point they will all have pretty much what you want, but now is the time to look for hidden costs.
For example, if one package is a couple hundred dollars cheaper but arrives at a different airport than the rest of the packages, do your research. You might find that this regional airport is a little bit further out than its international airport, and possibly lacking in public transportation options. Thus the cheaper package might end up costing you a pretty penny in cab fares.
Once again, when you have your list of important points for your holiday package, you can start identifying areas where you can be flexible. For example, maybe you absolutely must escape the snow somewhere south, but the days you leave and return are up for debate. Likewise, perhaps you can see yourself having fun near the water or in a big city, but you’ve got to keep the cost under a thousand bucks. Identifying areas where you can afford to be flexible helps you to locate the best package for your needs because it gives you more options to choose from.
Call In the Big Guns
When all else fails, call in the professionals. Travel agents may seem like an anachronism in this digital age, but they possess experience and insider knowledge that a free website just cannot match.
An experienced and skilled travel agent has connections with everyone from hotel managers to tour guides to private car services, and they will work for you and only you to ensure you get the best package possible for the best price possible. Remember that vacation wish list we keep talking about? Well, having a living, breathing person on your side is the best chance you’ve got of scoring every single wish on that list.