Budget Wars | Caribbean Vacation

We are home from vacation.

Beautiful.

Caribbean.

Vacation.

carnival ship Pictures

The very first thing – and I literally mean the very first thing I do when we arrive home from vacation is…

…look for another vacation.

I love a good deal and sometimes they just land in my lap – but mostly after I chase after them.

Imagine taking a vacation with the love of your life for 10 days and it costs you less than $1500 for everything – flights, food, lodging, excursions.

How did we do it?

Flights/Travel

As you know, I put a lot of work into finding the best deals for the best getaways. I booked inexpensive flights through Spirit and we packed in one suitcase and one personal item (these are well worth buying!!). I saw people with multiple suitcases and carry-ons, but it never makes sense to me. How do you need so much stuff for vacation? There’s not enough room in your stateroom and it is such a hassle trying to move all that luggage on and off the boat. My goal next time is to pack in my personal item, to eliminate any added bag costs with Spirit.

The other travel gem I found was the bus trip from Miami to Orlando. I booked it through GoToBus.com and it was well worth it! It cost me double just to go from Fort Lauderdale to Miami through the cruise ship – and the trip to Orlando was about 3 hours. I highly recommend GoToBus!

Excursions

I have an interesting view on excursions. We got such a steal on our cruise tickets, that any excursion would cost more than what we paid for our vacation.

I just can’t do that.

So, we like to ‘do our own thing.’ Obviously, you have to be careful with security issues, but for the most part, we like to charter the locals for excursions. They cost less and are way less crowded than ship excursions. If you live life on the edge like that, it can be hit or miss, but that’s where flexibility comes into play. This time we brought our own snorkel gear – and seriously, these masks are genius!

snorkel masks Pictures

Food & Drink

Yes, food on the boat is included in the ticket. However, they have lots of options that cost extra. Also, one of the things that I noticed is that people get off the boat and instantly go to a bar or restaurant to eat and drink – which you have to pay for. We almost always stick with eating only on the ship. We also don’t drink alcohol, so that cuts out a lot of added costs (it was something like $56/day for the drink package).

Cruise

Ok, down to the cruise cost itself. How did we get such a steal on this? First thing was that we booked last-minute. Also, it was a flash sale directly through Carnival for those who have sailed with Carnival before. Lastly, it is hurricane season. You have a high possibility of rough waters, bad weather or missing ports. Like I said before, that’s where flexibility comes in. The thing to remember is that hurricane season comes every year between June and December and cruise ships maneuver the ocean waters every single day. They know how to handle the waters. They know how to handle the storms.

Add that all up and you have a beautiful vacation for less. It really makes traveling often affordable.

Now all we need is some friends to join us next time…

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.