Summer is finally here – ahhhh!!! Well, *technically* it’s the 21st…but I’m hitting the pool later and who’s counting? 😉 I dunno about you, but this girl could use some R&R in the form of a 6 month paid vacation. Ya feel? Unfortunately…vacations ain’t cheap. Growing up, my family had our one beach hotspot that we’d frequent; we’d stay at the Quality Inn and avoid the gimmicky boardwalk shops, staying on the beach from sun up to dinnertime (we’d even pack food for the road trip so the ONLY things we had to buy were dinner!). It definitely worked for us, but after awhile, mixing it up is v. necessary. But, it’s also v. necessary to know how to save money on vacation, to be able to even afford some sorta luxurious, dream stay.
I never (ever) thought something like an all-inclusive tropical resort or an adventure abroad would be feasible without years of planning + saving. But after going through the process of planning our honeymoon, a press trip to Mexico, another Mexican adventure on the calendar, and a European escapade in the works, I like to think I’m becoming a pro vacationer. HA. 😉 Give me a margarita + a travel book (and give my hubby a calculator) and we’re good to have the time of our lives without totally breaking the bank! So I’m partnering with my friends at Allstate to share some of the best tips + insider tricks out there when it comes to saving $$$ and vacationing smarter + savvier.
RELATED POST: Our Honeymoon in the Riviera Maya
Planning the trip…
- Plan smart from the start. Tools like Kayak and Skyscanner can help find the *best* of the best deals for everything from airfare to lodging. Didja know that airline pricing + fares change dramatically depending on something as simple as how you’re browsing the web? For something like airfare where pricing is dynamic + changing constantly, *always* browse in incognito web windows. Otherwise, any cookies on your computer can indicate things like how badly you want a specific flight, and your rates might actually be inflated accordingly. No bueno.
- Be flexible in where + when. A tool like Skyscanner also has the capability to scan all available travel for a specific period of time to show you the most cost effective options. If you have a set vacation time in mind, be flexible with WHERE you go and you’ll get the best deal. Similarly, if you’ve got a place in mind and are flexible with WHEN you go, let a tool like Skyscanner choose the cheapest months and you’ll save money. Total gamechanger!
- Cost of living. Island vibes are not all created equal! The DR, for example, is notoriously cheaper than a more upscale locale like St. Barth’s. If an island is harder to get to, airfare might be a bit pricier, but actual costs while you’re there (lodging, food, etc) will be less.
- Package it. Package deals almost always end up saving ya SOMETHING along the line. Anything from an extra night for free to cheaper excursions all adds up, from money to memories, and it really is key when it comes to how to save money on vacation.
- Consider the non-touristy options. Tourists = $$$$$. The more prominent of a tourist attraction it is, the more likely it’s pricier.
- Make a list of musts versus wants. If swimming with dolphins is a MUST for ya (*raises hand wildly*), and yannno in advance it’s a pricier escapade, see if there’s anything you’d be willing to give up if it means saving more money to just do the few things you reaaaaally wanna do. If riding horses on the beach is a dream and you’re not too into archaeological ruins, make that trade-off and save moolah accordingly.
Before you go…
- Tell credit card companies + banks where you’ll be going. A.) It helps ensure that your cards aren’t accidentally “turned off” if your own activity is marked as fraudulent (“How’d our Philly girl suddenly start shopping in Punta Cana? She’s not there – let’s hold her status until we know otherwise!“) Any sort of unwanted fees add up!
- Pay bills before you go. Get ALL yo’ finances in order before jetting off! This way, ensure overdrafting isn’t an issue, and no worries about needing to bank (pun intended) on Wifi connections for any online transactions or transfers.
- Don’t put yo’ address on yo’ luggage! Just a last name + phone number will do. If luggage is lost (boo), you’ll get a call from the airline and can instruct from there. It’s not worth risking any future damages/thievery if your personal belongings AND personal info are out + about.
- Know exchange rates. If/when the US dollar is weakened, or if costs are variable, it makes budgeting hard. And ain’t nobody got time for intense in-the-moment calculations to track the tit for tat of it all. Go in knowing exactly how much you’re bringing in, and exactly how much (if any) you hope to be bringing out.
- Protect yo’ assets! Before you jet off, be sure your home isn’t open for bad business. Allstate’s blog has some ridiculously smart tips on how to avoid identity theft while on vacation and how to protect your home while you’re away : Don’t leave any indicators in your voicemail that you’ll be out of town! And – a biggie – have the post office hold mail until you return. That’s just inviting nosy eyes to sort through mail (which is illegal, BTW), where anything from packages to credit card statements could be fair game.
- Don’t overtip. I know, I know…ya go in with the best of intentions and kindest of hearts. But oftentimes, a service charge may be automatically applied to your bill, so you’ll end up overtipping if you’re leaving cash additionally. Also, tipping in other countries isn’t exactly as it is in the USA! Where we might tip 15-20%, closer to 10% may be more customary. So do some research ahead of time!
- Eat as the locals do. If you’re not at an all-inclusive and have to fend for yo’self, anything tourist-y is going to be pricier (and not as authentic!). Ask around to find the best local hot spots.
- Avoid setups for theft. This blog post from Allstate is SUPER helpful with things to keep in mind. The list of specific info + contacts to have handy just in case? #Brilliant. Also super smart to not keep all of the valuables in one place. Separate cash out so that you’re never in an all-or-nothing situation.
- Haggle like a local. Local markets are the *cutest*, and they’re also the perfect place to put yo’ negotiation skills to the test! Prices are rarely posted at these sortsa setups, so it’s really up for bargaining. Insider tip: If your resort requires wristbands for any sort of excursion, and you then find yourself wandering a local marketplace, hide that wristband! Locals know what wristbands signify, and for them, it typically means more $$$. From my own experience, if you know the local language…use it! When I was in Mexico, negotiating in Spanish ALWAYS got me further than English! It makes negotiating easier and makes sellers more comfortable.
- Use only Bank ATMs. They’re generally more secure than stand-alone ATM machines, so you’re less vulnerable to skimming – when thieves install devices to record all of the information you’re inputting). There’s NOTHING WORSE than being on vacation and finding out your account has been emptied. Nothing. worse.
- Hydrate smart. Grab a bigger, purified gallon jug at a quick convenience shop and use it to fill smaller water bottles. Easy way to ensure you’re staying hydrated on fresh H2O without paying a few bucks a few times a day.
- Keep social media posts vague. I know, I know…crazy coming from a blogger. 😉 But really! What happened to Kim K could happen to any of us (even tho most of us probably aren’t touting around millions in diamonds, STILL). Showing too much of what you have and too much of exactly where you are is like a blueprint for would-be thieves.
- Password protect your devices, and setup a GPS location app to find a phone if it’s stolen. Install anti-virus and update any anti-spyware programs on your computer, too – technology ain’t cheap, and having to replace it definitely dampers a vacay.
- Avoid identity theft at all costs – pun intended. Identity theft is an EXPENSIVE crime against ya, costing too much time *and* $$$ to handle. I mentioned protecting against bank skimming and asset protection back home, but in general, make sure you’re not setting anything up (accidentally, of course) to go wrong.
How do you save money on vacation?
Are you going anywhere for a vacation this summer? Where’s your DREAM vacation? I’m counting down the days until I’m in Cancun again…if ya need me, I’ll be at the pool bar. 😉
P.S. Have ya entered to win $1,000 to Nordstrom yet???
Have a really, really great week. Sending sunshine your way!
*This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. As always, all thoughts and opinions presented are entirely my own. As the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Coming Up Roses!