Traveling can be an expensive undertaking, especially if done as a family. Once airfare, transportation, accommodation and food have been added up, you may find yourself spending quite a fortune. And this is without including the cost of activities you plan on enjoying! As the economy continues to struggle, people are getting creative with planning out their precious holidays.
A vacation budget, especially if tight, can feel limiting but, on the other hand, these limitations can work to you and your family’s benefit. With a tight budget, the priorities and values you are looking for in a vacation become more apparent. After speaking with your family, for example, you may find that eating out at restaurants every night is not as important to them as going on historical tours or out to theatre performances. Perhaps you will decide to eat in more and spend your money where it counts. We, at Al-Andalus Experience, have taken the opportunity to talk with our clients and tour guides, and came up with five simple ways you can save on your next vacation:
1) Set Your Budget: setting a budget can be the most challenging part of planning out a vacation. A lot of people tend to underestimate their holiday expenses and find themselves with a failing budget. We suggest working backwards: determine a budget you know you can afford, then plan your vacation around it, rather than the other way around. To help you stick to the budget, allow a safety margin that will absorb unaccounted expenses: tips, gifts, an activity you couldn’t pass up, etc. The safety margin you set aside should be calculated according to your family’s spending habits and ability to stick to a budget. If you have a tendency to overspend, take that into consideration.
Granada’s colorful souqs have challenged many a good budget…
2) Buy Plane Tickets Early: with plane tickets, the earlier the better. We suggest at least three months; waiting until the last minute to buy tickets can set you back 10% or much higher. Sites like Rumbo are great for finding deals. If you are worried something will come up and interfere with your plans, buy insurance. If you buy your tickets early enough, the final cost with insurance should still be cheaper than waiting until the last minute.
3) Get Smart with Transportation: Depending on which country and city, transportation can either be cheap or expensive. Buses, trains and taxis add up, and it is wise to figure out to what amount. This will help you make an educated choice between sticking to public transit or investing in a car rental. Before investing in a rental, which may seem cheaper, consider the costs of parking, lot fees, or the simple headache of finding a spot in an unfamiliar city. Some opt for a car rental because of the convenience and independence it provides. If those are two major concerns, another option is contacting local traveling agencies that offer transport services. We, at Al-Andalus Experience, provide many clients with transportation (airport, long-distance, pickups and drop offs, etc.) at competitive prices. This allow our guests not only to save, but enjoy their vacations without the stress of driving in a foreign country or, if they are not used to it, on the other side of road!
Instead of a cab, you can always hire a horse drawn carriage too.
4) Consider Other Accommodations: Hotels eat money up fast. If they are cheap, standards may be low, or the location far away from city center life and activities, which means more money and time spent in transportation. Nice and well-placed hotels will cost an arm and a leg by the end of a trip. A great alternative is renting an apartment or house. This can give your family more space and privacy than a hotel; and the homier setting allows for a personal connection with the city you are visiting and better opportunities to explore it! Al-Andalus Experience not only offers affordable apartments and homes, but many are located in Granada’s city center and the historical district of Albayzin! Hotels would charge exorbitant amounts for the privilege of living at such historical and cultural hot-spots.
One of Al-Andalus’, spacious Home Rentals
5) Eat In, Not Out: eating out, even at affordable restaurants, for 1 to 3 meals a day gets to be a lot. A better option is going to a local grocery store for ingredients, and making your own meals and snacks. This is easily done in a rented apartment or home, where you can usually expect a fully-equipped kitchen. Otherwise, it is best to check before booking a hotel to see what their facilities allow. By saving with home-cooked meals, you can splurge more at local coffee shops or that famous bakery two blocks down; plus you will enjoy the local culture and the little treats it has to offer.
We hope all of our readers, families and friends enjoy the upcoming holidays! And remember, it is never too late to start planning for your upcoming spring or summer vacations. If you have your own, money saving tips, be sure to leave a comment and share them!