Hello Smart Stewards, I am Spender Saturday's. Today we will be talking about vacations. Yeah, we have shared a lot on budgeting and being wise with our spending.
So today, we are going to share about spending on ourselves and families for vacations yaaay!!!
I’m a lover of all things travelling but when not done wisely can be a depleter of resources (allow me to use that word). I have done both wise planning and many-a-impulse-travelling stunts.
However, today we will share a few tips on planning vacations wisely.
I will also share some of my personal experiences with travelling. By no means am I an expert in this place, but if working and money wasn’t a factor, I’d be a world traveller.
What is a vacation? According to the Websters dictionary it is a period of suspension of work, study, orother activity, usually used for rest,recreation, or travel; recess or holiday.
Staycation on the other hand could be taking time off to stay within your vicinity I.e no travels involved neither road, air or train.
When taking a vacation, whether travelling by road, air or sea, there are a few things you have to consider as a Smart Steward:
1. What do I enjoy the most? or in some cases on this group, what would my family enjoy the most especially kids?
I, for example I’m an adventurer. I like to go to places where these is so much history, authentic cultures, and where I can be a full blown tourist. I also enjoy hiking on trails, mountain climbing and all sorts of outdoor activities. I will take an adventure trip over a beach holiday say in Barbados for example. But then again, that’s me. I want to experience the world.
However, I families may HAVE to go to Disneyland or Disneyworld because of the kids and parents have fun too. So I totally get the fact that the dynamics might be different when kids are involved.
It is also important to note that vacation doesn’t have to be a trip outside Nigeria, England, or USA or Russia wherever we live. For example, if I were in Nigeria, I’d probably plan a trip to Tinapa in Cross River or even going to spend some time in Ijebu with my grandmother. I’ve seen other people who actually book a resort in Lagos somewhere and take the family away from home for a weekend.
2. What type of traveller are your your husband and kids?
Do you like flying or not? Do you enjoy road trips? Do you enjoy being on water? Believe me some people HATE flying….
3. How much time do we have off work or duties as mums, or off our businesses?
This is an important factor to consider as well. You would want to make sure you optimise your time. This is because time is money. The longer you spend at a destination, the more expensive and short trips can in some cases be more expensive than week long or two-week long trips at times.
4. And the most important of all, how much am I willing to spend on this one trip - BUDGET!!!
Now that in a sense we know what we would like to do on holiday, we should then decide on how much do we want to spend max This would help with your planning.
Let’s summarise what we have covered so far:
- We know the type of traveller we are,
- We have a good sense of what we would mostly enjoy on our holiday if we were to take one,
- We also have an idea of the mode of transportation we prefer, and
- More importantly we have an estimate of what we would spend.
5. Identify where you would like to go based on your preferences above. AND THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. HOW DO I MAXIMISE MONEY AND TIME!!. Many times I’ve travelled and visit only “one” place. For example, you plan to take a holiday to Paris for 8 nights. Did you know if you plan well you can actually visit London & Belgium on that same trip? They are both just train rides away from Paris - so in no time, what you have done is to visit 3 countries in 8 days.
Ok - another example, you travel to Cape Town, SA and your hotel is booked for 8 nights in Cape Town city itself. Hmm, did you know you can actually spend 3 nights in the city to explore and then maybe another couple nights in other parts of Cape Town - beautiful Stellenbosch or Franshoek or some of the other little towns with lots of vineyards and hills to climb and explore.
When we plan holidays we need to think outside the box to maximise the time we spend and money by doing more things with less money.
Now how do I do this you ask?
6. DO YOUR RESEARCH. This can’t be emphasised enough. If you need help with researching holidays and things to do, contact me (smiley face). I enjoy this aspect. Give your self at least 3 options of places to go based on your estimated budget.
Listen ladies, you need to research so many things.
- This place I’d like to visit, is it an expensive town or relatively cheap?
- What time of the year is high season where everything including hotels is expensive, when is the low season?
- What is the food like? Are the restaurants all expensive? Do they have a good nightlife?
- The activities I’d like to do, e.g. snorkelling, paragliding, hikes, disney world rides e.t.c. how much do they cost here vs there vs the other place.
- What is the weather like? When is the hurricane season, do they get earth quakes? When is it warm and lovely?
7. PLAN YOUR VACATIONS 6 MONTHS TO A YEAR AHEAD: As you set your goals for the year, ensure your goals include vacation(s). The reasons you need to plan at least a year out are mainly for costs savings and budget planning. Once you have decided on where to go and you’ve done your research, then start planning.
- Visit travel agencies - they have a lot of good deals that you won’t find online.
- Book your restaurant tables ahead (for fancy meals). Gives you an idea of how much you’ll spend on food
- If you can, book tickets to see shows or rides ahead as well.
- More importantly start setting aside money for the trip
I’ll give you an example, in 2014, a friend and I decided to travel to South East Asia, we’d never been. So we started off with type of places we’d like to visit, things we wanted to do, type of travellers we are and fortunately we both liked the same things.
We made a list of places to go and we headed to a travel agency. The travel agency helped us a lot, and even added a couple more places to visit on the trip. In all, we visited 4 countries in 12 days. We did Bangkok, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai.
The kicker is we stayed in 5* hotels (please I’m not bragging, just trying to give us a real life example of doing one’s research and planning vacations well ahead and within budget).
Presidential Suite in Banyan Tree in Bangkok
Normal courtyard room in Raffles Hotel in Singapore
Club suite in Langham Hotel in HongKong
Club suite in Raffles Hotel in Dubai
Now this trip should have cost us nothing less GBP 5000+ each given all the places we stayed and the type of rooms we were in. But guess what??? We only paid GBP 2100 per person including flights and breakfast . Entire roundtrip was GBP 800 per person, the rest went to hotel bills.
Listen - that was the deal of life and we didn’t have to pay all at once, we had 4 months to pay for the trip. We started planning 6 months before and finalised our itinerary and paid interest free instalments for 4 months.
8. BOOK HOTELS MORE THAN 3 MONTHS AHEAD: I didn’t realise this until my friend pointed out to me. Did you know that most 5* hotels give up up to 30% discount off when you book 90 or more days in advance? Ladies that was how we were able to get to stay in Suites on that trip to Asia. We were able to get breakfast and 30% off the entire stay. Also did you know if you book 3 nights in some hotels you’ll get the 30% discount and the 4th night free??? It’s great isn’t it? Do this and your holidays will never be the same.
9. BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS AHEAD AS WELL: Flights are tricky however, if you plan your trip well and done your research, you will find that at certain times in the year e.g. February - April, October - November, flights are much cheaper. So the earlier you book, the cheaper they are. Also, book with a travel agent (only if cheaper), that way you can spread the costs if you so desire.
10. CRUISES: Did you know that cruises are one of the cheapest holidays there is? With a cruise, you have the hotel, the destination, food and entertainment all-in-one? The ships are equipped with everything for the family from rides, swimming pools, games, live entertainment, food (lots of it), and the berth at different destinations so you get the chance to visit multiple countries - THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX TO MAXIMISE TIME AND MONEY! Cruises are really affordable and a lot of fun for the entire family or even as a single woman. You get to meet loads of people and have fun travelling together. (if you don’t get sea sick).
11. TRAVEL WITH FRIENDS: I was only going to give 10 tips, but this 11th one jumped at me. As a single girl, travelling solo could be rather expensive, however if you travel with friends you can negotiate deals. Also this works for families as well. The idea is there are lots of group discounts for hotels, flights, restaurants and activities that at the end of the day, it makes more financial sense to travel as a pack smile emoticon. Hotels give you group packages in addition to discounts I mentioned earlier. I also think some airlines (probably via travel agents) also give good discounts for bulk bookings.
In summary, the idea here is to
1. KNOW YOURSELF
4. DO MORE WITH LESS ON HOLIDAYS
5. TRAVEL TRAVEL TRAVEL AND EXPLORE THE WORLD
Hope you find these tips useful as I have. If you have any questions related to planning or booking holidays, feel free to contact me.
On a daily basis, we feature words of financial wisdom from different Smart Stewards members and sometimes from Guest Contributors. You'd be glad reading them. Enjoy!
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