Getting the best value for your leisure travel dollar requires considerable planning and effort but it’s usually worth it.
The world’s great generals throughout history realized that planning for the battle was usually more important than the plan itself. The same is true quite true today when it comes to planning for your special vacation trip.
Yet, many leisure travelers tend to delay travel planning until a couple months or even weeks prior to departure, and they usually pay a price for waiting. Smart leisure travelers, on the other hand, plan their vacations well in advance to take advantage of better pricing and availability.
Furthermore, those “last-minute travel deals” are usually not the best value because you get the cruise or hotel room that no one else wanted and there may be hidden costs as well. In fact, you may even risk paying a premium price. Reserving leisure travel months in advance usually provides the best value, especially if you can cancel the reservation without incurring a penalty should plans change.
Such planning also enables you to experience local festivals and other events that likely sell out long before last-minute travelers even consider the opportunity.
Another money-saving strategy involves leveraging international air expenses by combining multiple trips into one extended trip whenever you have the luxury of traveling for a longer period. Good examples include back-to-back cruises or extended experiential travel in a single country or locale. Also, consider traveling in the shoulder or off-season, when crowds are much smaller and your travel budget goes much further. You also might consider bucket-list destinations currently out of favor by many leisure travelers, saving the current “hot” destinations for another trip.
Many employers now encourage executives to combine business with pleasure travel by extending business trips in desirable locations, or by adding a destination or two for a mini-vacation with their spouse. This practice of “bleisure” travel is gaining popularity especially among business travelers who have trouble taking longer vacations due to demands of their job or career. Be sure to keep business and leisure travel expenses separate.
Build “down time” into your travel itinerary, allowing additional opportunities to simply relax or, better yet, time for becoming an “accidental” tourist. Discovering several gems not mentioned in the travel books adds depth to your overall travel experience, particularly when you lose yourself in a city such as Paris, Hong Kong or Cairo.
Whether you work with a professional travel planner or do-it-yourself, leisure travel planning requires time and effort but it usually creates the best value for your travel dollar, as well as the best overall travel experience.
This article first appeared on Travels with Bob, Vacations by Cruise and Travel Experts.