With an uncertain economy and, for many, an uncertain future, some people are opting to put off vacations. Despite the potential problems on the horizon, that does not have to be the case. When you work with a travel agency, you can save a lot of money. Almost anyone can afford to travel if they follow these six tips when booking a vacation through a travel agency:
Tip #1: Be clear that you’re on a very tight budget.
If you want to save money when you vacation, your best bet is to tell your travel agent that from the start. There is little to be gained by hiding the fact that you want to travel on a shoestring budget. Furthermore, be really clear about what that budget is, since “inexpensive” to one person is not cheap to another. The clearer you are about your price range, the better. That way, your travel agent can put together a vacation package that you can afford, not work for a long time on something that doesn’t even come close to your budget.
Tip #2: Have flexible travel dates and times.
The more options you give your travel agent when it comes to your vacation dates, the better. Flights tend to change prices drastically over the weekend, so moving your vacation just two or three days could save you hundreds of dollars. Avoiding holidays is also good. When you’re flexible, your travel agent can also barter for hotel rooms, show tickets, and so forth with other companies in the travel industry. For example, if your travel agent knows that another agent is trying to fill rooms he or she bought in a chunk for a discounted price, you can get a better deal on one of those rooms. Give your travel agent a bit of wiggle room to negotiate. Likewise, if you are willing to travel at undesirable times, like in the early morning hours or overnight, you may be able to get a cheaper deal, at least on the transportation costs.
Tip #3: Ask for a cheaper version of your dream vacation.
During your initial meeting with your travel agent, have an open mind when it comes to destination. Talk about your dream vacation spot, but then hear out your agent on places that are similar but not as expensive. For example, say you want to visit Aspen for a gorgeous ski vacation. It might be less expensive (but just as fun) to go skiing at one of the resorts in Vermont. You might feel like your compromising too much, but think about your destination choices long and hard. If it is just the name holding you back, you might want to just let go and take a risk on the less expensive location. You might have just as much fun if you stay open-minded
Tip #4: Stay in the United States.
Work with a travel agent who books domestic trips so that you can stay in the United States. In most cases, you should save money on transportation since you will not have to travel as far. You may also be able to travel without documentation, as long as you have a picture ID. When you travel out of the country, you need a passport at the very least, and you may need a visa, certain vaccinations, or other travel documents as well. When you stay in the United States, you should also not have to worry about added cell phone expenses to make calls, losing money on the exchange rate, or paying top dollar to take your luggage with you.
Tip #5: Be willing to do some of the planning yourself.
The whole reason you use a travel agent is to avoid having to do the planning work yourself, but if you compromise on that a bit, you may be able to save money. Instead of working with a travel agent who plans every last detail, get someone that is a little less expensive and just book your flight and hotel through the agent. When it comes to the other stuff, like getting tickets to an event or making restaurant reservations, you can do the work yourself.
Tip #6: Organize a group tour.
A great way to save money on your vacation is to organize a tour through your travel agency. Group rates will apply, but more importantly, the person who organized the vacation typically gets to travel for free. The down side of that is that you have to commit to finding a certain number of people who will go on vacation with you, which can be hard. You are also responsible for them if they do not pay, and you have to, essentially, share you vacation. However, this is a great way to save money and make sure that you can still travel, even if you are on a budget.