I’m divorced and I work from home. I’m not wealthy by any means but I make about $50,000 dollars per year. It’s important to me to live below my means and save as much money as possible for my children. That’s one reason I like to keep our family vacations under $1,000 dollars or get steep discounts for foreign travel. This is how I do it.
Deals: You could call me an extreme vacationer. I love travel and relaxation. I always look for deals from hotels, cruise companies, airlines, and car rentals. One way that I get the best deals when I travel is to wait until the last minute on vacations like cruises. Companies like Carnival will offer steep discounts when they don’t have a full ship. For instance, I got a cruise that advertised for $309 per person for $199 by waiting until two weeks before the sail date. Sometimes you miss out because the ship books up but there’s usually a room or two left.
For great hotel and resort rates, I send email requests that ask for discounts and specials they may be offering. I let them know that I am looking around to find the best deal. It doesn’t always work but sometimes it does. We spent two weeks in Brazil for 70 percent less than the advertised price and I scored the deal by simply asking, being friendly, and waiting until the last minute.
Some things are cheaper when booked in advance; like flights. I normally use Allegiant Air to fly to Vegas or L.A. because if you book in advance, you can find flights for $99 dollars or less.
I also use my repeat customer status to score cheaper rates at favorite resorts, hotels, and cruise destinations. I worked in travel for five years and any decent company will value your repeat business. It’s much cheaper to keep a customer than to find a new one.
If you’re adventurous and an outdoor type person, check out a company called G.O.R.P. Travel. You can do things like backpack through the rainforest, visit horse ranches, see Mayan ruins, and bike through Europe fairly inexpensively.
Timeshare: I also am not above doing a timeshare tour, but I will only do it through an independent company with a great rating from the BBB. When you do it this way instead of staying at the resort or getting your discounts from the timeshare company, you can hold them to the time they quoted you for your presentation and you aren’t at the resorts mercy. Only one out of ten people actually buy at a timeshare tour, so don’t feel bad about taking the offer.
Junk Food: Another way we save is to never eat at fast-food chains or restaurants when we travel. I take a cooler with healthy food for the car, I shop when I get to my location and cook, or I buy packages with meals included. My motivation isn’t all monetary. I’m also very health conscious and don’t want to eat junk food. We usually have one night during our vacation where we pick a really nice restaurant that everyone in our family wants to try, but that’s the extent of our eating out.
Split It: On occasion, I will also travel with other family members and split costs. The cost of gas, condos or hotels, and activities can be greatly reduced if you have someone to split it with. The only way this has ever gone wrong is when someone says they can pay and at the last minute tells you they can’t afford it. Don’t travel with the family moocher.