We asked Dr. Cacinda Maloney of PointsandTravel to tell us a few of her secrets on how to book a vacation package with great value. She has been on literally hundreds of trips, so we think she knows what she is talking about!
I don’t know about you, but sometimes planning a vacation and looking forward to it is almost as fun as the vacation itself. Or at least it used to be until I got too busy in my life with family, work, and self-care! Now I desire a hands-off approach and prefer everything planned for me so I don’t have to do the work myself! In this case, booking a vacation package from Travelocity is perfect. A vacation package allows you to bundle multiple aspects of your trip into one convenient purchase, often saving you both time and money. You can choose from a variety of bundles including flight + hotel, flight + hotel + car, flight + car or hotel + car.
Let’s face it, planning a vacation can be hard work. Filtering through review after review of hotels, flight bookings, and itineraries of things to do can be an overwhelming undertaking. Especially when all you want to do is to get away and relax. You don’t want all the complications, particularly if something goes wrong. Also, when looking at vacation packages, many times you can find much better deals than if you try to put it together yourself.
One of the best vacation deals I have gotten lately was when my family wanted to go somewhere for Christmas break. Because we have kids, their dates were not very flexible. Since I was not able to change the dates, I could change the location of the beach destination we wanted.
The kids wanted to go to a popular beach destination called Sayulita, Mexico. But by the time I looked at it, it was at 90% occupancy and expensive. Instead, we were able to vary the location and find a vacation package to a smaller village nearby. It was more authentic, quaint, and less crowded. The town was called San Francisco or San Pancho, as the locals call it. It ended up being better for us as we enjoyed the quiet neighborhood and took a day trip to busy Sayulita, which was packed full of tourists during Christmas break.
So for those of you looking to purchase an inexpensive vacation package that has value, I thought I would put together a few tips for booking packages that can save you money and give value to the money you spend.
Tips for Booking a Vacation Package with Value
You can use these tips to guide you through the booking process for the greatest savings when purchasing a vacation package. Those who know me, know I am all about getting value out of my dollars spent.
Tip #1: Be Flexible on the Destination
As mentioned before, I was able to get more value out of the money I spent by changing destinations in Mexico. Travelers can get the most value out of vacation packages if they are open to any destination. Let’s say you want to go to the beach or the family wants to go skiing, there are many places in the world to do this. It could be in your own backyard or halfway around the world. When you are more flexible on the destination, then you are going to get a better deal.
Tip within a Tip: Choose an activity you want to do and look for places to do that activity. Things like surfing, horseback riding, or even staying at a golf resort.
Tip #2: Be Flexible on Time and Check Back Often
Just like with flexibility on the destination, travelers who are flexible with when they go are going to get better value. Expand your search to what days you can travel, how long you stay, and even the time of day for flights you can take. Think 6 a.m. or even red-eye flights. The more flexibility you have with your time the more value you will receive in your vacation package.
Here are three times that you can get great deals: Early December, the last three weeks of January and the first week of February. These are considered off-season for most destinations. Obviously, traveling during holidays and peak seasons will cost you more. If you can’t be flexible about the time, find out when the shoulder season is to the destination you want to go to.
Also, many people believe certain things about the best day to buy an airline ticket — some think on Tuesdays at midnight, others say Wednesday at 1 a.m., while Texas A&M Research suggests the weekend is the best time to book. But which is it? Check back often to see if your deal is the same at different times. Once you find what you believe to be your best-valued vacation package, then snag it!
Tip #3: Book Far in Advance or Book Last Minute
This is just a theory of mine, but I have found the best vacation package deals I have gotten are either way in advance (things like Christmas and Spring Break dates) or last minute deals. Travelers typically get the best value when they plan more than three months in advance or less than one to two weeks in advance.
Tip #4: Travel To and From a Major Airport Hub
Generally, if you fly from a major airport hub, you have more options available to you. I know I always see great deals going out of JFK or LAX for overseas vacation bookings. Keep in mind that you can still choose these deals, you just need to check the airlines to see what additional fees it will cost you to get to these major hubs. Remember, they will not be a continuous booking with the vacation package you purchased. So they most likely won’t be able to check your bag all the way through on a connecting flight. And most likely you will have to change terminals. These things typically take you more time than a direct nonstop or continuous bookings.
Tip within a Tip: Rates for vacation packages can be complicated. When comparing packages, always read the terms closely to make sure you’re comparing the same things (Are they for the same dates? Is it the same room type? Are they both non-refundable tickets?).
Bottom line: Travelocity vacation packages can be less expensive than booking with the airlines or hotels individually, so check them out!
Need a little inspiration? Check out these flight + hotel package deals for under $400!
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