How to Find the Best Vacation Deals to Save Money
Have you finally saved enough for a much-needed vacation?
While you deserve to treat yourself and spend some of your hard-earned money on "me time" that doesn't give you license to completely drain your savings account either. Here's what you need to know to find the best vacation deals without compromising your experience.
Travel During the Offseason
The most popular vacation destinations have distinct high and low seasons. It's invariably cheaper to visit during the low, or shoulder (intermediate), seasons. When this happens, falling occupancy rates prompt hotels to slash nightly rates and local tourist vendors offer enticing deals.
Before you book, research your destination's annual rhythms. Sure, traveling during the low season might mean braving the chilly weather, but the savings and uncrowded attractions could make up for it.
Consider an Alternate Destination
If you're feeling adventurous, why not get off of the beaten path? Low-key destinations tend to be less expensive than better-known alternatives.
You often don't have to go far to find budget-friendly alternate destinations. For instance, affordable southwestern Florida cities like Naples and Fort Myers are just as beautiful and beachy as ritzy Atlantic Coast cities like Miami and Palm Beach.
Use Deal Sites and Apps to Find Airfare and Hotel Bargains
Start bookmarking travel deal websites. Sites such as Kayak and Trivago are great resources for frugal travelers who are looking for quick deals. Niche sites, such as Skiplagged and Last Minute Travel, are also great resources.
While you're at it, sign up for a travel newsletter or two. You can't book directly through Scott's Cheap Flights, but the site's email deals spell out exactly what you need to do to slash your airfare to international destinations.
Fly at the Right Time
Are you a morning person? If so, it can help you reach your goal of saving as much money as possible. Since they're more difficult to make, early-morning flights are usually cheaper than flights that leave during business hours.
Alternatively, late-night and red-eye flights are often the cheapest and least crowded options on any given route. They're more common on west-to-east routes such as San Francisco to New York. The red-eye is a great hotel alternative too, provided that you're tired enough to fall asleep on the flight. Between lower average fares and one less night in a hotel, you're looking at a powerful budget helper here.
Evaluate All-Inclusive Options
Do all-inclusive deals make financial sense? If you're planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a remote, exotic honeymoon destination, you might have little choice but to opt for an all-inclusive deal. Generally, the higher you climb up the luxury ladder, the more likely you are to encounter all-inclusive-only lodging options.
When it comes to all-inclusive travel packages, the math changes a bit. There's a good chance that you've seen seemingly attractive flight-hotel-car deals offered on major booking sites. Such deals often deliver savings when compared to separate bookings at full price. Just be sure to read the fine print — some require multiple layovers or hotel stays well outside of the advertised destination. The savings might not be worth the added time or hassle.
These aren't the only strategies that can help you find the best vacation deals and reduce your getaway budget. Every seasoned traveler has a few well-worn tricks up their sleeve: racking up loyalty miles on travel rewards cards to cash in for free or reduced airfare, staying in non-traditional housing, and even taking a risk on blind-booking sites that reveal the identity of the travel vendor only after the transaction goes through. Either way, make sure that you enjoy your well-deserved vacation.