Whether you travel alone, in a couple, or with family and friends, knowing what fun activities are close at hand or what cultural tours there are to take is essential. The problem is that this often marks the moment you realize the spending is far from over!
The good news is that there are ways to save money on entrance fees, activity charges and tour expenses. The secret is to understand you don’t have to pay these fees at all. You do have a choice. Even when on a package tour, it is usually possible to opt out of the set itinerary to do your own thing, with agents often selling such arrangements for lower prices.
Still, Forbes.com reports that, according to a US Consumer Travel Report survey, the number of people opting to stay at all-inclusive resorts has grown from 8% to 14% over the past three years. So, it really does seem that “All-Inclusive Resorts Are Back!”. Why? Well, because you don’t have to worry about paying out more cash for rides at the resort’s theme or water park, family meals and evening events – though there are always restrictions you’ll need to check out.
In this article, I list some of the tips that will help keep costs down when entertaining you and your family while on vacation, without having to settle for watching the clouds sail by. But I offer far more comprehensive coverage on free and low-cost activities in my series of Travel Free Guidebooks. Simply choose the most appropriate guide for you.
And of course, if you have more tips on how to save money on entrance fees which you’d like me to share with readers of this book, simply email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Seek Out Inclusive Activities
Tourist attractions are expert at separating you from your money. All day long, you’re opening your wallet for meals, snacks, rides, shows, souvenirs, tickets, t-shirts, and a litany of other expenses. And when you add up what you’ve spent, it really hits hard.
Filling the days with activities, especially with kids in tow, while sticking to a budget, is not easy. But with package tours and most resorts including activities in their prices, entertaining the family doesn’t have to cost more.
All-inclusive packages are exactly what their name suggests, everything is paid for, at least within the confines of the tour itinerary or resort. According to USNews.com’s Money section, travel experts and economists agree that if the right all-inclusive deal is found, the “Financial Benefits of All-Inclusive Resorts” help to decrease stress and increase relaxation for you.
But keep in mind that not all activities are included in all-inclusive packages. Some special options, like using the residents’ spa or fitness center, and often meals in premium on-site restaurants, might not be included. There may also be a general limit on consumption of meals and drinks.
The prices are also typically higher than with flight and accommodation-only bookings but on balance the savings can be several hundred dollars, depending on your vacation preferences and destination.
There is no shortage of all-inclusive vacation options on the usually search tools, like:
- Travel Supermarket (UK)
- All-Inclusive Outlet
Do your research and find out exactly what is included in the price. The travel agent should have all the details, but you could also contact the resort or package tour organizers directly.
For ideas, check out TravelChannel.com, which offers a list of the “Best All-Inclusive Resorts 2014”, and TravelAndLeisure.com, which compiled its own list of “Best All-Inclusive Family Resorts 2013”.
Even Forbes.com has made its own offering, the “10 Coolest All-Inclusive Resorts”, complete with advice on what to expect and what to look out for.
Take Advantage of Free Tours
Popular travel destinations and big cities are often full of fully-trained, experienced tour guides willing to take you around to see the sights – and quite a few of these tours are free. With all-inclusive package tours, you are paying for the guided tour you’re on. But why pay when you can go your own way and for nothing?
This is a major part of city tourism, so you’ll have little trouble in finding something that suits your interests. The only thing to remember with free tours is to tip at the end. It is the tips that the guide earns his or her living from, and while not obligatory, it is a welcome gesture.
Here are my tips for finding free tours:
- Use tour guide networks Global Greeters
- Use tour guide associations International Tourist Guide Day
- Ask other travelers Hi Everywhere is an online forum for volunteer tour guides
Get a Good Guidebook
Getting great bargains on your travel and accommodation costs is important, but it’s not the full story. Once you reach your destination, you need to keep yourself occupied. A beach resort may have everything on site, but if you love culture, local cuisine, good wines and a little bit of adventure, you’ll need guidance and a good travel guidebook is ideal.
Free brochures at hotel reception are useful, but are essentially promotional materials put out by businesses, museums and tour companies. A guidebook provides a far more balance view of what is on offer. True, you need to buy a good guidebook, but it will pay for itself 10 times over, giving you the inside scoop on low-cost places to eat, free events, the best museum and their special discount or free entry days, as well as accommodation and shopping suggestions.
There is no shortage of travel guidebooks options in your local bookshops and online, with several available as apps too. Amongst the best-known names are: ·
- Rough Guides
- Lonely Planet
- Time Out
- Let’s Go
With the exception of Let’s Go, a travel bible for students for the past half-century, these guidebooks concentrate on giving ideas and advice rather than how to save money while traveling.