Travel for Less

There are 2 things I love in life – spending money and saving money.

If only I could do both simultaneously…except I can! (and I do)

Seriously, my husband loves me for it!

Ok, maybe love is a strong word, but who doesn’t love someone who saves a boatload of money?!?

One thing I always save money on, besides everything, is travel. It’s something that just thrills me to find a great deal.

I just love an amazing luxurious vacation without the price tag.

Is it a coincidence that my maiden name is ‘Price’??

I say it’s meant to be.

Think about this:
more planning/prep equals less $$ spent
less planning/prep equals more $$ spent.

Without much further ado, here are my top 10 ways to save on your next vacation.

Always be on the lookout
Frequently take a quick look through a few of your favourite vacation websites to see what’s out there, what’s on sale and what you’d like

Be flexible
Sometimes, people choose travel dates for many different reasons. If you can, be flexible with the dates you want to go. Last year when we went to Cancun, leaving 2 days earlier than originally planned saved us money.

Book last-minute
Some of the best deals are last minute. I can’t even count how many times I get into convos with people on vacation that tell me the steal of a deal they got that was hundreds of dollars above the price I paid.

Be prepared
Almost all of my trips are booked last-minute – I’m talking the book on Tuesday, leave on Friday type. This can be hard, especially if you have kids/pets to make arrangements for, but we have made it work with our 2 kids and a dog. The key is preparation. I always have a process that I follow once I book a vacation (like lists of babysitters, meal prep, packing lists, etc.) and it seriously helps me in those moments that I wake up deciding to go on vacation.

Be open-minded
It can be very easy to get caught up in going to the same places you swear by, but think about trying a new resort, cruise line, airline or destination. You may be pleasantly surprised.

However, this leads me to tip #6…

Check unbiased reviews & video footage
This isn’t really a money-saving tip, but it can be if you tend to waste your money on resorts that aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Resorts, hotels, cruise ships, etc. all want you to pick them. They will post the best pictures and sometimes they even give incentives to people to write good reviews about them. Check out recent, real people reviews and footage.

This is actually something that made me think about blogging – none of the reviews I read/saw gave an accurate depiction of the beach/oceanfront. When we got to one destination, there was a 5 day rain streak and we noticed that they pumped all the rain water into the ocean directly in front of the resort. Let’s just say it looked and smelled like decaying flesh (it was actually decaying trees branches). We won’t be going back there.

Cruise
Cruising can be a great way to see many different places without spending the money on traveling individually to each of those places. There are many cruise lines that offer discounts and incentives.

Travel off-season or during rainy season
I know it sounds unappealing to go to a warm, tropical destination and have it rain on your parade. Just hear me out…tropical rainy seasons aren’t like the rain we get here (Canada), they usually get spurts of rain, followed by bursts of sunshine. Within my short 15 years of cruises and resorts (most of them during rainy season), I’ve only had 1 vacation that it rained non-stop for 5 days – and the locals said it was not normal.

Fly the deals
There are many ways to save on flights. If you stick with the same airline, you can get miles to use toward flights. I’ve never personally done this yet because we’ve generally flown with Spirit or Sunwing, but I do have a new favourite airline – Southwest! You can definitely find cheaper base prices with Spirit, but I recently flew with Southwest and loved everything about it. I’m now at a place in life where I value my comfort more than saving $$. (Shh, don’t tell Brian!)

Think outside the box
This is actually better suited for a blog post on it’s own, but it’s worth mentioning in saving money. You know how people buy timeshares? You know how those same people don’t always get the week(s) they want so they don’t go? Guess what happens to those timeshare rooms/condos. They sell them to money-saving gurus like me! It’s called vacation resort certificates and you can buy them for super cheap. We went to Florida for 2 weeks and only paid $500 for a 2 story condo with 2 bedrooms, full kitchen, full laundry, that backed onto an outlet mall and was 15 minutes from Disney. We were able to use the money we saved to bring the kids to Disney, their water parks, Legoland, Arabian Knights & more!

So there you have it! My top 10 money-saving tips for vacation. Let me know in the comments below how you save money when you vacation.

Cruises vs Resorts

I was 21, just married and had never been on an actual vacation before. I knew so little about travel, that I didn’t even know I needed a passport.

I had no clue.

I literally got my passport less than 48 hours before we left for our honeymoon.

We cruised the Caribbean for 7 days on Princess Cruise Lines. It was heavenly. From that moment I was sold on cruises.

Until.

We went to an all-inclusive resort.

I’ve been to 2 resorts and have cruised 7 times. I’m still deciding whether it’s better to cruise or go to a resort. Here are some of my thoughts on cruises and resorts.

Cruises

Internet
Internet hasn’t always been available on cruises. You can now get internet packages on cruises, but they do cost some dollars. I personally like being disconnected from the stresses, but I usually find a café with internet when we get to each port.

Food
There is always an amazing array of food when you cruise. There are always plenty of options and you will never go hungry! My favourite cruise line is Norwegian and it’s partly because of the food.

Excursions
With cruises, you are at different ports throughout your vacation. This gives you opportunity to book the best excursions at the best places. Brian & I like to live life on the edge, so there are some ports that we find locals to bring us on excursions. When we went on our honeymoon, we chartered our own boat (with some locals), went snorkeling and deep-sea fishing for the day for a fraction of the cruise price.

Entertainment
Cruise lines put a great emphasis on entertainment. They have jazz clubs, comedy clubs, nightly shows, movies, games, bingo, etc. There is always something happening somewhere on the ship.

Swimming
I’m not going to lie. I don’t love swimming on cruises. The pools are usually packed and it’s hard to find a chair near the pool. Except the water slides – waiting in line is worth it. There’s also options such as The Haven. They have their own pools, sun decks, etc.
Maybe one day I’ll splurge for the sake of a review. You know, for you.

Spa
The spa is usually my downfall on a cruise. I was introduced to the spa on the cruise we took from New York in the winter. Not only was it freezing most of the time, but I also tore my meniscus right before we boarded the cruise. My hubby offered to get me the spa package to make me feel better. Little did he know that it would be my new expectation for every cruise.
There are only a certain amount of thermal spa packages available. The thermal spa usually includes a variety of whirlpools, heated ceramic loungers, salt rooms, saunas, steam rooms, ice fountains, etc.

Gym
The gym is almost always packed out the first day or two on a cruise – and it’s usually the treadmills. The area with the weights and benches usually only attract the hard-core gym-goers. One cruise, this intoxicated peanut of a man tried to take some weights from another bodybuilder.
Bold move.
I was sure I was going to witness some sort of crime. Just as Mr. Bodybuilder was about to pummel the kid, a sweet, little lady walked between them and softly, but sternly told them to grow up. I kid you not, it was as if it was straight out of a movie!

 

Resorts

Internet
At a resort, you can choose how (dis)connected you want to be. Some resorts have free wi-fi in the lobby for an hour, some have free wi-fi throughout the resort. The thing I love about this is that I can still talk to my kids when I’m away.

Food
I haven’t been to a lot of resorts, but my experience so far hasn’t been amazing. At the resorts I have been to, I usually only eat to live, not live to eat. The last resort that I was at I found a sandwich and fries from the sports bar that was decent. I literally ate that every day for the whole trip. Food is not my favourite part of resorts.

Excursions
Resorts do offer excursions. I haven’t taken one yet, because I’m not entirely confident in them. Plus, there’s only so many excursions you can do when you’re stationed in one place the whole week.

Entertainment
I have split reviews on resort entertainment. Poolside entertainment looked fun, but didn’t pull at my attention. As for the nightly entertainment, it really depends on the resort. One resort had a show one night, but the rest of the week everything closed and everyone went to their rooms by 8pm. Another resort we went to had breathtaking shows every night and they even transformed the courtyard into a local market one night. Amazing.

Swimming
See that line where the sky meets the sea, it calls me. When we went to Puerto Vallarta, you could find us boogie boarding in the ocean non-stop. It wasn’t until the day we were leaving when we found out that the red flag had been up the whole week and the beach had technically been closed. Oops. But the waves were amazing! Although the ocean did steal my favourite pair of Fendi sunglasses. Just be sure to check the resort beach ahead of time as some beaches supersede others.
Now for the poolside. We went into the pool once. We were together. Then Matt came. Who is Matt? I don’t know, but he was single and available. Me? I was taken and happily married (while pointing to Brian). We tend to skip the poolside now at resorts.

Spa
When I’m at a resort, I won’t use the spa unless the weather is horrible. The last resort we went to we booked the thermal spa for 2 days because it rained for 5 out of the 7 days of our vacation. It did not even compare to the thermal suite on a cruise.

Gym
Ok, I’m split on this too. I’m guessing that each resort has different gym qualities. One had only 3 machines in it, one was a full gym. It’s never going to be my home gym, but it’s enough to get by.

In conclusion, I like both. I can’t decide which is better. Maybe you can help me. What do you like better – resorts or cruises? Comment below.

Stress Free Travel

I LOVE traveling.

Ok, I don’t LOVE the travel part of it, but I do love being on vacation. I mean, who doesn’t, right?

When I was a kid, I would get so excited to go anywhere, that my trip started weeks (or sometimes months) before the day we were scheduled to leave.

Shout out to all my planners out there!

When my kids were little, I would make sure that I had every detail of every little thing worked out for the sitter (usually my parents!). Then, as they got older, I didn’t do any different! As a matter of fact, I’ve probably become more and more meticulous with organizing their lives before I leave. I have checklists and lists and notes and files and everything else you can possibly imagine.

Yes, probably a little over the top, but I want to make sure that life doesn’t skip a beat for them (or the sitter) just because the hubs and I are gallivanting across the universe (or lazing on a beach somewhere tropical).

Tropical

Let’s get into how to make travel easy peasy.

Lemon. Squeazy.

Well, Looky Here…
A typical vacation for us is when I find a deal online, quickly check coinciding flights, book the vacation and then usually leave within 5 days of booking.

How?

I’m ALWAYS looking.

I mean, usually the day I get back from vacation, I’m already hitting up my fav travel booking sites. You know, just to see what’s out there.

Regardless, I have tried and true favourites that I lean towards.

  • Favourite Cruise Lines
  • Favourite All Inclusive Resorts
  • Favourite Airlines
  • Favourite Deal Finders

I watch for sales and deals, freebies and incentives. This not only gets me great deals but it keeps me excited about our next travel adventure.

Plan on Planning
I have basic travel planners, spreadsheets and lists ready to go at any given time.

Sounds a bit crazy, but if you have a base plan, it will take the unnecessary stress away from the travel process.

Some of my lists include

  • Packing List
  • To Do For Vacation
  • To Do Before Vacation
  • Schedules (for kids and pups)
  • Schedules (for vacation)

Be Flexible
Last minute vacations usually get you the best deals. However, it’s difficult to plan last-minute vacations if you are not flexible.

If you can, try to be flexible with things such as

  • Vacation time with your employer
  • Where you are willing to vacation
  • When you are willing to vacation

Be Prepared
There is seriously nothing like being prepared for something. I usually keep a pre-packed travel bag that has everything but clothes so I’m ready on the fly.

You never know when the most amazing deal is going to strike and if you’re prepared, you could be vacationing sooner than later.

Rock Glen

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite travel stories.

The hubs wanted to go away on vacation.

I didn’t.

To appease him, I looked and looked for a deal, but was not finding anything that fit in our budget.

Grateful, I finally told my hubs that it wasn’t going to work out and asked if he could maybe switch his vacation time so I could find something at a more convenient time (not so close to Christmas).

Before he did, I thought I’d give it one last go. I found a 7 day cruise from Houston for only a few hundred dollars. I laughed and told him that I would go if we found cheap flights (under $100).

I did.

Ugh! I found $50 flights from Detroit to Houston and on top of it, the cruise line offered an on board credit of a few hundred dollars.

In the end, the trip only cost us peanuts and it was one of the greatest times we had.

Do you find travel planning stressful or do you thrive in the wake of lists and schedules? Comment below!