Hey guys! It is officially the Christmas season and we all know that means everyone is planning vacations either for the holidays or the upcoming new year. I decided to go ahead and create a blog that would share some tips on ways to save time, money, and you sanity when planning your next holiday excursion. I’ll try to keep things general since I know some people may be planning a family vacation while others are looking for some tips to save some cash on their honeymoon. So buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride!
I can’t stress booking ahead enough. The closer you get to your planned travel dates, the chances of not finding what you a looking become a greater risk. I suggest traveling to your destination in the off-season (what is the off-season in the destination you are traveling to? Google it!) if you want to not risk putting out money months ahead of time or rolling out the big bucks if you book a month or two ahead of time.
Here is a recent example where Andrew and I have learned the hard way about booking ahead: St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. Andrew and I want to go to Ireland so bad! I have some Irish blood in me and my birthday falls on March 17th (yes, it’s the best), so naturally we really wanted to travel to Dublin during my birthday weekend. After looking at Airbnb 6 months in advance and seeing that most places were already booked or outrageously expensive, we have decided to more than likely delay our trip till some time in April. You live and you learn.
Sometimes you can swing a good deal during peak season, though. Andrew and I managed to snag a cozy apartment in Prague that is a twenty minute walk from Old Town Square during the week of Christmas. Was it stressful? Yes. Was it a hassle? Yes. Did we get the place we originally wanted? No. Are we going to still enjoy our trip? Yes ma’am we are. So consider your dates that you are traveling, what type of experiences you want to have at your destination, and if you are willing to be flexible to save some cash in the long run. These three simple steps will help you every time you plan a trip!
Check Yo Self (and Prices)
Possibly one of my favorite tips. Why? Simply because so many people overpay for travel, lodging, experiences, and whatever else because they failed to do some simple Google searches. Please don’t be this person! One of my favorite things to do when planning a trip is to make a list with four categories: travel, lodging, experiences, and food. I will then add places (or modes of travel) to each category as well as an estimate of how much it will cost.
Why do I do this? Let me give you an example: Andrew and I are staying a twenty minute walk from Old Town Square when we travel to Prague. Why not just stay at the apartments that were still available five minutes from Old Town? Well, those were $50 more a night and smaller. Andrew and I have a public transit stop steps from our front door at the place we are staying. Public transit is very affordable in Prague. When you crunch the numbers, it just made more sense to me to stay at the apartment we booked instead of paying way more money to be fifteen minutes closer.
Make sure you crunch you number multiple times, overestimate how much you think you’ll spend, and weigh out your options. I can personally say that I will recalculate numbers a few times to ensure that I have the correct total so then that way there are no surprises. This is also why I tend to overestimate how much we will spend on vacation instead of underestimate. We always walk away from a vacation with money left over and that is completely fine! Lastly, be honest with yourself and what you are willing to do on your vacation. Maybe you would rather pay more for an Airbnb because you hate public transportation. That’s perfectly fine! It is is you vacation. Plan in how you want.
Plan, Plan, Plan
This should go without saying, but based off of some travel stories I’ve heard recently…I think some people may need a quick refresh on planning for a vacation. The one thing you need to plan for is the weather! I can’t count on one hand how many times people have posted on social media that they are taking a spontaneous trip to the beach, only to get there in the middle of a thunderstorm or hurricane. So be smart and check the weather for your destination at least a week ahead of time! You may have to be like Andrew and I and invest in a good winter coat. Make these purchases a soon as possible so you don’t have any surprise last minute expenses before your big trip!
Another important thing to plan for are accidents. Hopefully no one gets hurt on your vacation, but life happens. Check ahead and see where the closest hospital or urgent care is located from your destination. Also jot down the numbers for local law enforcement and emergency services. If you are traveling to a different country, this is an important step because their emergency services numbers are more than likely different than those of your home country.
Now that you have your placed booked, requested off work, and set up for a dog sitter to come by, it’s time to pack your stuff and head out on the road! Honestly, when packing my bags I tend to over pack. It has been the hardest habit for me to break. Your girl likes to have multiple cute outfits, you know? Anyways, it is important to not over stuff your bag so you can avoid extra baggage fees, have room for goodies to bring home from you vacation, and to not absolutely kill yourself dragging that luggage up the stairs to your Airbnb/hotel. Fun fact: elevators are not as common in Europe as they are in the states. So dragging bags through the streets and then up many flights of stairs is exhausting.
Don’t pack three extra outfits. You probably won’t wear them. I would say it is safe to pack one back up outfit, just in case of an emergency.
Set a Budget
This one is pretty simple: don’t blow your life savings while on your vacation. Andrew and I are very particular about what we are willingly to drop money on while visiting another area of Europe. We skip the t-shirts, key chains, and souvenirs. We prefer to pay for experiences like visiting museums, local shops, and restaurants. Honestly though, you can do whatever you want. Am I saying not to buy a $15 t-shirt and instead buy a $15 cup of coffee? Nope. I am simply saying that we avoid buying the touristy things because usually they aren’t locally made and tend to be overpriced.
Finally, please be safe. One thing Andrew and I do is google common scams that occur in our vacation destination before we go. Is this going to prepare you for every single type of scam out there? Nope. Although, it will probably help you spot some in the long run. Andrew and I have had people borderline harass us to donate money to their “charity” and I have heard people buying “train tickets” from people with appear to look legit and then they find out the tickets aren’t valid.
Recently we found out while traveling to a certain city, we needed to avoid the taxis in the main square because they tend to charge more than they are suppose to. Guys, I can’t stress this enough: if you get a bad vibe then follow your gut. You don’t have to be rude, but simply tell them, “No thank you,” and walk away. Always stay with your group or if you are traveling alone, make sure you send a general itinerary to a person you trust!
Alright guys, that’s it for this blog. I hope you enjoyed it and if you have any tip you want to share, please feel free to drop them in the comment section! I am working on my day trips from Ramstein blog and hope to have it completed soon. Let me know what else you want to see from me! 🙂