Everyone deserves an occasional holiday. Some folks plan a vacation each year, while others are not that lucky.
There are mental, physical and health benefits of taking a holiday and everyone in active employment is advised to plan at least one vacation each year. Relaxing and getting away from personal, family and professional worries improve our mental health by reducing depression and anxiety. A short holiday has been found to significantly reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This is why employers encourage staff vacations because they are aware of these benefits which ultimately improve staff productivity. In this article, I will be sharing useful tips on how you can save costs and keep your expenses low during a holiday. These tips will be useful to both experienced and inexperienced travellers.
1. EFFECTIVE HOLIDAY PLANNING
The best way to keep your holiday costs low is to plan your vacation early. Check your personal and work schedules to determine your availability as best as you can. Booking early reduces ticket costs as tickets get more expensive when bought towards your travel dates. You also save accommodation costs by making reservations early. By planning and articulating your activities, you already have an idea of your hotel costs, flight and tour expenses.
2. A HOLIDAY BUDGET IS A MUST
If you must keep your holiday costs low, you must work with a budget. An actual written budget and not a figure in your head. A holiday budget will help you establish the full cost of the planned trip and determine if you can conveniently finance the vacation yourself. This budget must include all the big and small elements of the trip.
Flight tickets (local and/or international), accommodation, local transportation, feeding, shopping, are some of the major costs that your budget should cover.
Make your budget very comprehensive so that it covers every activity you plan to undertake. It is easier to adhere to your budget when it is tied to a good plan. Surprises are expensive and a comprehensive plan will keep such away. Identify the activities planned for the holiday and put a cost estimate against these. Ensure that you write or type the plan out. Other advantages of having a holiday budget include establishing which activities are free vs paid for and carefully selecting activities within your financial capability. Travellers are encouraged to exhaust free activities first before exploring paid tours and activities.
3. STAY FULLY INFORMED
When planning to visit a new place, do your research well and learn about the conditions in the place you desire to visit. There is valuable information online about every destination. Be informed about your intended destination. Google is a friendly tool. Learn about the culture, security, weather, meals and transportation options of the location. You must also know the immigration laws and other basic laws for citizens and visitors. Download useful apps and refer to google. You do not want to flout the law of the land and end up paying huge fines or getting deported.
There are some destinations that do not permit the importation of dairy products, cooked food and certain seeds. Be honest when filling landing cards and immigration declaration forms. If you are properly informed, you will save costs of such items that may be seized at the borders as well as possible fines that may be applied if you fail to declare such items and they are eventually found in your possession.
It is also very important to know the political situation of the country you want to visit for safety reasons. Having the required information will enable you take the necessary precautions and ensure you have a good holiday. When you plan a vacation, you want to get the maximum benefit for the money you spend. You do not want to spend money travelling to a location only to be restricted to your hotel.
Most destinations have free location maps at the airport information desks. Do make use of this offer.
4. FLIGHT TICKET COSTS/BARGAINS
Travellers should know there are some advantages of purchasing their tickets through a travel agent. Travellers who use agents occasionally get better prices because some airlines give better discounts to agents to boost ticket sales. If you choose not to use a Travel agent, then be on the lookout and learn to observe the trends to know the low and peak seasons when airlines offer discounted tickets. Tickets are usually cheaper at certain periods during the year. There are “high” and “low” seasons. High seasons are the summer and festive periods like Christmas when people tend to travel more, making tickets purchased during these periods more expensive.
If you choose to purchase your flight tickets yourself, compare flight fares from different airlines and for different dates. Sometimes you can save a reasonable amount by changing the date of your trip by a day or two.
5. ACCOMMODATION/HOTEL EXPENSES
It is important to avoid late booking and reservations for hotel or accommodation. To save costs, travellers, especially those travelling with family should consider the use of serviced apartments instead of hotels.
Travellers who prefer hotel accommodation should search for package deals that include breakfast. This ensures that one meal a day is taken care of, saving you some money on your feeding budget. Once breakfast is settled, you can then decide to eat either lunch or dinner depending on your appetite. Anyway, most times you are out and about, so most times dinner is probably the next meal to think about.
One possible option to consider over hotels is the Air B and B or apartment hotel options. Please note that it is very important to read past reviews for hotels and ‘Air B and B’s as past reviews show opinions of previous occupants thus providing information on the true state of the accommodation. You do not want to get there and find low quality heating, WIFI or kitchen items. Apartment hotels/Air B n Bs are recommended for family holidays as you can save on your feeding costs by cooking your meals.
6. TRAVEL AGENCIES ARE NOT BAD
Travelers who use Travel agencies benefit from the vast experience and network of these companies. Travel agencies often have group tours and packages that include visa processing, flight, local transportation, accommodation (sometimes with breakfast), local tour packages, tour guides and other activities. Travelers should be on the lookout for such offers as these save you stress, and time given everything is planned by the Travel company. Tour packages also offer you the opportunity to meet new people on such trips. However, be sure to read the fine print and be clear on what is included/not included so you are prepared.
7. BE WEATHER READY
If there is anything you do not want to spend money on during a vacation, it is purchasing what you have back in your house. Make Google your best friend and ensure you pack appropriately for your holiday destination. Research and know the full requirements for the weather during the period of your holiday. If you plan to visit a warm destination and plan to swim, go along with your swimming outfit. If you already own winter jackets and the weather forecast indicates cold weather, go with needed clothing to avoid additional costs of new clothing.
8. AVOID IMPULSIVE SHOPPING
Shop carefully. It is essential to estimate and have a budget for shopping, especially if you are not a frequent traveller to that destination. This is because you will find many attractive items that will appeal to you. If you already set a budget for shopping, you will be more organised and deliberate about what you buy.
9. SET OUT EARLY
International trips require your presence in the airport at least 3 hours before your flight time. Even local trips require you to be at the airport 2 hours before flight departure. If you live in an area where traffic is erratic and unpredictable, you may want to consider leaving home early. Set out for your flight on time, as missed flights come at a cost. If you do not turn up for your flight, the airline will charge you for ‘No-show’ irrespective of the reason.
10. TRACK YOUR HOLIDAY EXPENSES
One way to keep your holiday costs low is to track your expenses as you spend. This means that you should have an ‘After Holiday Review’. Keep proper records to enable you do a useful comparison with the budget. Once your holiday is over, take your initial budget and place your actual expenditure against this budget. You will be able to identify areas with variances, investigate the variances and take lessons for future trips.