So you want to go somewhere. Maybe you know and maybe you have no idea.
Below are 3 things to do when you start to plan your next vacation. When shoppers call me or walk in the agency with that “dear in the headlights look”, first thing I do is comfort them by letting them know that they are in good hands. But if you just are not that far yet, then read on because I believe these things will help guide you and hopefully even save you some moolah! Okay, let’s go!
1. How to figure out where you want to go.
- Are you trying to get out of the cold or escape the heat?
- Are you looking for the perfect destination to celebrate a milestone, anniversary, etc?
- Are you looking for family friendly, quiet and romantic or all out party-hardy girlfriend trip?
- Is it something that requires advance time to reserve because it’s a very popular destination or season?
These are all things that need to be answered along with many other questions to narrow down your perfect destination. But this is a good start when your discussing plans for your next vacation with everyone traveling.
Of course, hiring a professional travel advisor can make a big difference in guiding you in the right direction. After all, we do this day in and day out. Anyways, there are other things to consider if you just aren’t ready to call a travel professional just yet.
Say you’re ready to check Egypt off of your bucket list. You’ve always wanted to go and you’re ready! Well, is it safe or on the “no go” list? What documentation is needed for this destination? What’s going on during the time you want to go such as festivals, religious holidays, etc?
Quick story… I had a lovely couple call me because they bought airline tickets to Egypt but the tour company they found online couldn’t process their American credit card because they were based in Montenegro. Now what? They needed hotel, transfers, tours, etc. So they called me. They also didn’t know that they needed a visa (not credit card but the country requirement) and they also didn’t know that it was during Ramadan.
Ramadan is a religious holiday that lasts a whole month and is practiced by Muslims. Basically, that meant that Muslims in Egypt are expected to not eat, drink, smoke during the day until nighttime. While it was fine for the most part, I arranged a personal guide to help them during this time.
Services may have been limited but there were options for my clients. You need to be prepared to respect their beliefs. For example, for women, you need to dress modestly. Your shoulders and knees should be covered.
In other words, this particular destination was not one that you could just go on a whim. There had to be some preparation, especially if you want a seamless and safe trip. You want it to memorable but in the best way possible, right?
Research is key! Also, having connections on the ground in their destination is a great advantage for me and my clients.
2. How to find out if you can travel on your budget.
- Can you drive there and save on airfare?
- What level of service do you want?
- Do you like all-inclusive or as non-inclusive as possible?
- Is it important to have the least expensive view from your room or do you want the ocean in your face when you wake up in the morning?
In my experience, pricing for travel products is the most volatile I know. At times, it feels like you’re trying to catch a fly with chopsticks! It’s crazy!
You may have experienced this too, like when you’re shopping for a flight and you get a price but don’t buy then and there. You go back to reprice same flights but now you have the funds and it’s $200 or more higher!! Nooooooo!!
That is exactly why you’ll see this statement a lot in your travel documents,
PLEASE NOTE: ALL FARES PRICES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE UNTIL PURCHASED AND ARE BASED ON AVAILABILITY
There is usually a major difference between a ‘garden view’ room and and ‘ocean view’ room. Did you know that there is a difference between and ‘ocean view’ room and an ‘ocean front’ room? Be very careful to know exactly what you’re asking for.
Do you really want or need an all-inclusive? Do you know what that really is? It can vary with the resort or hotel that you’re looking at. Some include top shelf liquors and some don’t. What do these resorts consider top shelf? This is the type of research we do as professional travel advisors. We find out what is important to you and we want that for you as much as you do!
I’m going to show you what I use for a generic pricing guide. It’s hard to come up with a number out of the air but since I price out things, I know what things cost like flights to Puerto Vallarta or Greece and hotels in Vancouver, etc.
If you want to find out what is a good amount to save for a trip then use this formula. I like to use this as a general range for travel budgeting. Take an amount say $5000. Divide it by number of travel days, then divide that number by the number of travelers.
$357 is your per person per day total amount for your trip. That is considered a moderate level of service. A lower end would be in the $200 range, just to give you a ballpark number. These numbers are flight, hotel, transfers, taxes only, very basic package.
There’s a lot of number crunching that goes on and you have to be fast because remember, the airfare and hotel inventory and pricing is constantly changing. (Break out those chopsticks!)
3. Decisions you need to make before you give your final answer
- How flexible are you?
- Can you change your plans for a better time?
- Are you open to other destinations?
A lot of times, when discussing these things with a potential client, we find out that their first idea was only their idea because they didn’t have enough information to make a better choice.
Perhaps, going a different time of year can make a difference and save you money or you could lose money after making a malformed decision because now you have to cancel and reschedule or lose money with penalties of last minute cancellations.
Hawaii was one of those destinations that had some crazy things happen last year like a little volcano eruption, torrential rain, flooding, etc. (By the way, I don’t recommend Hawaii in March or April) Hawaii in the fall is ideal, I believe or January for whale watching. No one can predict a volcano eruption but you just do your best and remember to stay flexible and prepared for any unforeseen circumstance.
While you can’t control every possible set back or detour when it comes to travel, you can do some proactive things to keep you from losing your hard earned dollars or your head! I believe these things will help you save money but these are just the tip of the iceberg.
If you have any questions about this information or want to talk to me directly, please contact me at 480.290.1889 or Cristina@cultivatedescapes.com.