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Posted by on Mar 1, 2018 in Guest Posts, Savings Advice, Travel | 0 comments

5 Awesome Vacation Planning Tips for 2018

(Whether You Have a Little or a Lot of Cash)

Vacation Planning Tips

Whether you’re flush with cash or short of it, you can have the perfect getaway in 2018.  With tons of destinations to choose from, both stateside and abroad, the options abound for all budgets. But before you book a hotel, purchase an airline ticket, or reserve a rental car, you have to do some comparison shopping. After all, there are a host of ways to save money or to spend it more wisely than just throwing cash out the window when planning your vacation.

From cutting out the middleman to shopping around, here’s a look at four ways to have the best vacation in 2018, whether that means queuing up in long lines at Disney World or sipping on an exotic drink poolside on a luxurious beach.

Vacation Planning Tips for 2018

 

Set a Realistic Budget

Before you start your search for the perfect vacation, you have to figure out how much you can afford. After all, you don’t want to book a pricey getaway and have no money left to spend while traveling. On the flipside, you also don’t want to book a low-cost trip only to be miserable when you get there.

Determining how much you can realistically spend before planning your vacation and actually sticking to that budget can prevent any sticker shock or disappointment with your chosen destination.

Go Direct

Long gone are the days when you would call a travel agent or stop by a physical office to book your vacation in person. The internet has changed all that with websites and travel apps aplenty. These internet travel services enable you to book your trip online and offer package deals and discounts similar to how traditional travel agents operate. But sometimes, they’re not the best game in town. Often going direct can save you money or guarantee you the room you want.

Take Disney World for one example. A quick google search will yield you tons of hotel options at Disney-owned and operated resorts. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that your choices in some instances can be limited. Sure, you may be able to get a room in your desired Disney hotel, but it may not be the exact room you want. Going directly to Disney will yield you different rooms, different hotels, and different results. That applies to all sorts of lodging as well. An online travel website might not have any hotel inventory left, but you may be able to book a room going directly to the hotel, cutting out the middleman.

The same is true of airlines and car rentals. Travel websites may give you a deal, but not all the time. Airline or car rental companies could be offering deals and specials that will save you more money or provide the accommodations you are after. Once you have honed in on the location and hotel you want to stay at, you can track the specific property to be alerted to any deals. Similarly, you can track the best flight deals from a travel website and consult the airline that you would book to see if you might find a better deal by going directly to the source.

Comparison Shop to Save

When it comes to purchasing a car or a big-ticketed item, consumers often engage in comparison shopping. The same practice can also be applied to planning a vacation. The internet makes it easy to do that, with services available to find all the travel deals on the internet. These internet aggregators can in seconds cull together the fares for flights, prices of hotels and rental car costs across multiple travel sites. Having that much information can be a powerful way to comparison shop and save money.

Cost-conscious travelers should follow airline discount websites, too. They’re particularly helpful for those who don’t need to travel on a specific date. Consumers can set alerts and track the prices for flights online or in-app.

Use the Internet to Pick Your Destination

One of the biggest challenges for would-be travelers is figuring out where to go on their vacation. It’s often a question of staying domestic or going international. Unsurprisingly, there’s an app for that.

Travel websites, search engines, and airline operators have a bevy of online resources designed to help consumers figure out where to go. Many offer up recommendations based on interests and popular destinations. There’s also the ability to set a maximum price for the trip and to search based on how far from home it is, ensuring you stay within budget.

Hot Spots in 2018

All this vacation planning knowledge begs the question: what’s hot in 2018 for travelers? Turns out there’s a little bit for everyone. Popular destinations that were ravaged by hurricanes and fires last year are starting to show signs of life again with San Juan in Puerto Rico making it onto Lonely Planet’s top ten cities to vacation in this year’s list. While Hurricane Maria wiped out power to the island, three-quarters of the hotels are now back up and running. Sonoma and Napa in California were devastated by wildfires but the businesses are once again open and welcoming visitors. Of the more than 400 wineries in the area, only a handful were destroyed as a result of the fires. Outside of a return of the destinations impacted by natural disasters, cities around the country are holding events this year that make them popular tourist spots.

Take New Orleans for an example. The Big Easy, which is rich in history, entertainment, and good food, is celebrating its 300th anniversary throughout 2018. Same goes for San Antonio, Texas which also turns 300 this year. The city, known for its history and melding of different cultures, plans to celebrate its 300th year as a city throughout the year with events and different activities. The city is holding its Tricentennial Commemorative Week during the first week of May.

For those seeking a beach vacation this year, travel experts point to Grenada, an off-the-beaten-track island in the Caribbean as a good place to visit. Grenada boasts empty beaches, rainforests, unique cuisine, and a new luxury hotel opening in March of this year. Unlike other islands in the Caribbean, Grenada was spared from the hurricanes last season.

Even cold climate travelers have options to choose from in 2018, with travel experts pointing to destinations including Alaska, Canada, Iceland, and Nordic countries as sought out travel destinations this year.  Far from the potential for natural disasters and terrorism these destinations are not only safe but offer up breathtaking scenery and views. They don’t come cheap, however. Experts warned that cold climate vacations are pricey even if you’re visiting Alaska.

Final Thoughts

Planning for a vacation doesn’t have to be as painful as getting a tooth pulled or suffering through the flu. Understanding how much you have to spend, engaging in some comparison shopping and going direct are all surefire ways to ensure you get what you want out of your travels in 2018.

Unsure where to go? Airline operators, travel websites, and hotel companies all have online resources that take the guessing out of planning your next trip.

A traveler at heart, Barry Green now spends his time sharing tips and tricks about the best deals and the smartest ways a person can travel. Unfortunately, he himself can’t be on the road or make use of these tips often, as he spends the bulk of his time caring for his ailing parents. He encourages his readers to share their experiences, allowing him to travel vicariously through them.