I am writing this, since I am planning a Disney Cruise for 4 months from now. It also involves 2 of my favorite topics: traveling and budgeting!
This post will be continually updated as I collect/remember more tips
**Just a side note. I want you all to know that I am in no way an expert. These are simply tips/tricks I have used myself, that I am sharing to help others. I do recommend having no debt, 3-6 months savings, and pay up front for the trip. This will make your vacation more enjoyable. If you do not agree with that, please take the tips that help, and leave the rest **
The best tip I have is to always budget and save for a trip before you actually take the trip. I normally collect all the information (air fare or gas, hotel, food, excursions, spending money, etc.) and then add another 10% to the total. Once we have the money, then we actually book the trip. Usually at this point, we (meaning me) have researched enough to get great deals, and actually saving a lot of the budget for the next trip (and blowing a little on extra fun!) But save, save, save is the #1 tip.
- Get a rough estimate of the cost of your trip and break it down. If the trip you want to take costs $5,000, how long will it take you to save for it? *Personally, we alternate a BIG trip with a small weekend trip each year, that way we can travel, but still save for a big one* For example, if my trip costs $5,000 and I want to take it in a year, 5,000/12= approx. $416. If that is too much to save a month, then try for 2 years and it will only be $208 a month. Save until you can go, but do not use credit. It will only add to your stress, and planning the trip is half the fun
- Every bit of extra money can go towards your trip. I use cash for almost every purchase. I take the leftover change, and put it into a vacation jar. In 1 year, we can have over $100 saved just from the coins! The kids love to add their money and we use it on the trip divided between us all for extra spending money. Also, if we get rebate checks, that goes towards the trip as well.
- Make sure you include EVERYTHING in your trip planning budget, even the little things. Hotel/short term rental, gas/air fare, parking, transportation while there (taxi, bus, subway, etc.), spending money (yes budget your spending!!), excursions/day trips, tips, clothing you need to purchase for trip (swimsuits, jackets, etc.), misc. items you will need (seasick meds, toys for the kids for travel, travel books, camera equipment, etc.) *the extra 10% I budget for the trip usually goes to this category, there is always something I forget to get until the last minute!), if you need shoes, make sure you break them in before your trip, luggage, passports, travel insurance (always recommended for trips over $1,000. I use http://www.allianztravelinsurance.com).
- Add together what you need for the trip to get your total cost of the trip. A $4,000 cruise could cost thousands more once you add excursions, tips and things you need to bring for the trip. Make sure you don’t jump into something blind and then be hit with extra costs you weren’t expecting.
- Some people like to get a second job temporarily just to pay for a vacation. That is a wonderful way to save for a trip! Nothing like working hard towards a goal
- Bad things can happen on a trip. You can get sick, lose luggage or get pick-pocketed (more tips on that later). Try to let the little things go, and remember to enjoy your trip. Keep some extra money in your bank account for last minute emergencies. Trip insurance can help with some of the issues, which can give you peace of mind.
- If you have a specific trip in mind, keep an eye out for a great deal! Remember to clear your computer cookies while looking for deals, to keep the prices the lowest possible, especially before you book.
- If you are getting travel luggage or books, look around online, don’t buy the first one you see. Putting some time and effort into getting the best deal can save you tons of money. I wanted a safety purse (Pacsafe) for our cruise, and I got one, used only once, on ebay for $30 less than it cost new elsewhere. It can be tiring, but can save you so much in the end!
- When booking excursions/entertainment, look for coupons, 2 for 1 deals, family discounts and other ways to save. Be careful to book with a respected company. http://www.tripadvisor.com is one of my favorite sites where you can get reviews of thousands of hotels/attractions around the world. That way you will know if what you want to book is a good deal, or a scam.