For some people, the worst part of their vacation is planning the details. But this is where you can get the most for your money and ensure you book as much fun as you can pack into your trip.
Good planning is the key. You can avoid the stress of overpaying for flights, finding the best hotel for the best price, and reserving the top restaurants. All you have to do is make good plans and stick to them. It’s not just about the money, it’s also about having fun.
If you are one of those people who hate to plan, think of these tricks as a way to really save money. Keep large blocks of time on your schedule open to be spontaneous. But try these ideas on how you can use your favorite online calendar to plan your vacation and save money.
Sign Up for Airline Discount Alerts
Once you identify where you’re traveling on your next vacation, sign up on travel and airline sites for alerts about discounts. These alerts typically offer discounts to travel during a specific time frame. Log these into your online calendar, along with the deadline to book, to make sure you don’t miss out. You can compare prices offered by different discount travel sites and plan your trip.
Use Travel Points Earned From Airlines
You may be a frequent flyer who has accumulated a number of travel miles. These miles typically do not last forever, so check out when they expire. You can enter the time period these travel miles are valid for in your online calendar. Look for dates that overlap with the flight discounts you identify and consider getting the most out of your travel miles. You can book a discounted flight, use travel miles to pay, and save money in both cases. It’s more savings than you would earn by just shopping around.
Plan Early If You Are Renting a Car
The price of renting a car has skyrocketed since the pandemic, thanks to rental car companies selling off a lot of their fleet. But that does not mean you can find bargains. Sign up for alerts from the rental car companies you trust most and add an alert to travel sites you use. Rental car discounts often come for certain travel periods, much like flights. Log these discount offers into your online schedule, along with their expiration date, so you don’t miss out.
Shop Early For Hotels, Airbnb Rentals
You may be able to save money on hotels by signing up for discount alerts on travel sites and your favorite hotel chains. Some hotels offer five nights for the price of four, or similar deals if you book between certain dates. Keep track of these as you do your flights, rental cars, and other discounts on your online calendar. Give each type of discount – flight, rental car, hotel – its own color code as you enter them into dates, and keep an eye out for the overlapping dates. This will help you plan your actual travel dates when you nail down the discounts.
Schedule Dinner Reservations In Advance
It may not seem necessary, but many restaurants at vacation spots fill up fast. You could find yourself forced to dine at more expensive, less appetizing, or mostly uninteresting restaurants. Take into account reservation options at the restaurants you most want to visit and reserve them as early as possible. For example, some popular restaurants at resort destinations fill up fast as your travel dates near or require you to book reservations a month or more in advance.
Check out their reservation requirements and plan your trip accordingly. Your effort to make plans with your online calendar might just be the difference between a magical experience and a disappointing one.
Reserve Your Place For Activities And Tours
You will often find discounts online when you book certain tours and experiences in advance of your trip. Once you have your travel dates and destination nailed down, search for tours and activities in the area. Find the ones that interest you, and chances are you can receive a discount by booking early. Make the reservation and enter it into your online calendar as one of your vacation activities. You will not have to wait in line to buy tickets at higher prices on the day of your scheduled visit. You also avoid the disappointment of finding out the tickets are sold out.
Consider Credit Card Rebates For Travel
Some credit card companies offer higher rebates on certain types of purchases throughout the year. For example, a credit card could offer 5% back on all hotel purchases or for rental cars. Log the dates those discounts are offered on your calendar, assigning a unique color code to it. You may find that many of the purchases you already planned to make are covered by credit card rebates. This is a great way to save money, assuming you commit to paying off the card balance when you return. Otherwise, the interest charges applied to the credit card will easily wipe out your savings and end up making your trip more expensive.
Avoid Airline Booking Fees
You can save money for your next trip if you pick your seats early. Once you identify the airline and the flight, find out when the first opportunity to pick seats is. Mark that date on your online calendar so you don’t miss out on options. You may find yourself waiting and paying $30 or more per seat to get what you want. This is a great way to avoid airline booking fees if you are traveling with a companion you want to sit with on your flight.
You can save money on food by planning meals at inexpensive, but interesting local restaurants. It might be a sandwich shop, a pizza parlor, or a falafel restaurant. You don’t need expensive dining or big-money chain options. The local eateries that are off the tourist route often offer inexpensive options and feature local food favorites. It’s a great way to save money and learn more about your destination. If the restaurants take reservations, take advantage of the opportunity and make one. Better to have a seat guaranteed at a restaurant that is half full than be shut out at a place that is overbooked by locals.
Something many travelers don’t know is that you will spend more for dinner than lunch in many countries. Many restaurants offer lunch specials to attract business. Consider loading up on a large lunch, and spending less on breakfast and dinner. You can check online for lunch specials at your destination before you arrive. If you find deals in certain restaurants that look appealing, reserve spots there and add them to your online calendar.
Don’t Be Afraid To Haggle
You can plan on big savings as you book your trip if you are not afraid to haggle when you arrive. In many countries, haggling is an expected activity that the locals encourage among street vendors and at markets. It is OK to offer less than the marked price for items, even for food at some locations. Do some research before you travel to learn more about the local customs. Make sure you understand the currency in your destination to ensure that you account for any currency fees and differences. Once you’re comfortable with what is expected and the currency, don’t be shy about haggling. It can help you save money for your vacation and get great deals on fun souvenirs.
Image Credit: Photo by Kamaji Ogino; Pexels; Thank you!
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