Plan Your Resort Vacation Frugally

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

When planning a family resort vacation, unexpected savings might be closer than imagined. For example, resort vacations often offer free stays for children under 12 or other perks that make planning and paying for the vacation a bit easier. Booking with a travel agent can also save money on airfare and upgrades, and agent booking fees are minimal in comparison to the savings they sometimes provide.

Choose Your Destination Carefully

Unless you've always dreamed of visiting the Bahamas, plan your resort vacations carefully. Rather than choosing a destination first, choose a general location and a type of resort first. Then, look through catalogs or brochures until you find a few resorts that meet your needs. Often, the prices between one destination to another are astronomically different.

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The Caribbean islands, for example, combine a variety of governing countries. Some price their resorts higher than others based on the value of a dollar.

From an economical perspective, if all you're searching for is a Caribbean vacation, choose one that best fits your budget. Closer isn't necessarily cheaper, and staying in your home country isn't always cheapest either.

However, if you've had your heart set on Barbados then no amount of money saved will make up for visiting a different island. Similarly, if you want to stay in US territories, by all means stay there. However, if you want to find the cheapest luxury resort in the Caribbean, shop around.

Don't Skimp on Airfare

Airfare prices are daunting; be prepared for them. There are great deals on flights, good times to fly, and package deals that offer savings. Websites offer tips and booking help as do travel agents. However, don't plan a vacation around avoiding airfare; it won't save you money.

Cruise ships that leave from ports in Florida and Puerto Rico often sail at prices cheaper than those leaving from northern ports such as New York or Philadelphia. Trying to save a few hundred dollars on airfare doesn't work when the cruise costs $500 more to leave from a different port. Similarly, those northern ports schedule more time on the boat and less time on land (islands). Some are even known as cruises to nowhere since they spend all their time at sea before returning to their ports. This may not be worth the savings.

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All-Inclusive is All Good

All-inclusive resorts carry high price tags, but itemize your costs and compare. Add up three meals a day, snacks, drinks, and basic on-site entertainmentfor everyone in the family. Now, add this to the basic fee for a week's stay at the non-inclusive resort. All-inclusive is a good deal, right? Usually it is, but there are exceptions.

All-inclusive stays also offer something not seen in their prices; they offer true relaxation. Here, there are no gratuity bills that will appear under your door on the last night of your stay. No one has to carry an ID card all week to charge drinks and snacks to the bill. It's all-inclusive: all the food, all the fun, and all the relaxation.

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