Thursday, 13 October 2011

Planning your next vacation?

When the weather starts to change, the travel deals start showing up in the newspaper and I want to go somewhere...It's hard to ignore the ads for $495 for a week in the sunshine!

Every year, (well about 3 or 4 times a year now) I sit down at my computer and try to find a great sunny vacation.  Now that my kids are away at university I can take advantage of those deals, but most often I find they are not for me.

  •  I don't like the food at 3 star resorts in Mexico, and if I am going to Hawaii I want to stay on the beach not a few blocks away. 
  •  Often those great deals are in the off season, like pacific coast Mexico is August - very hot and humid, Atlantic Coast -in hurricane season from June to November.  
  • We did try the Riveria Maya one year in October, it was so humid we did not feel like doing anything and the mosquitos ate us alive!  Great deal though,  a fabulous adult only resort called the Valentin Imperial Maya (would pay a bit more to go back at a better time of year)

So I start by deciding what is important to us for this trip, sometimes it is just because of a great deal, (I would still pay more than the $495 for a 5 star resort, they would be on sale too) but it could be to see a new city/country, (then the priority is location and timing, when's the best weather?)

I have found:

  1.  the best site to research prices in Canada is  this site has almost all tour operators and usually beats the price of booking with the actual supplier
  2. you need to spend some time reading reviews on Trip Advisor, what do others think of the food, beach, accommodations, service, good for kids or adults? whatever is important to you......but read at least 10 and take an average cause some people are just whiners!
  3. If you are travelling without kids, Adults only resorts are heaven!  It may cost a few hundred $ more but averaged out it will be sooo worth it.  The food, service & Alcohol are all a better class, and no one else's little brat is screaming beside you at your table or by the pool,  Heaven!
  4. Booking a condo thru is easy and saves a lot of money.  Tripadvisor, owner direct, flipkey and many more sites also do this but I have only used vrbo, so far.
  5. If you have a credit card that collects travel points, spend them at peak periods like christmas, spring break, if you aren't using a credit card like this, you are missing out on free airfare every year.  I don't recommend you use points for the land, the amount of points needed is too high.
  6. Check they have a travel planner that tells you the average weather you can expect for the dates you are thinking of.  Also try the city or country's tourism website for their description of the annual weather.  
  7. I often use a travel agent to book trips for me after I have done all the research, because Travel Agents have insurance to protect you if a tour operator goes bust.  Your credit card may offer this protection as well.  
  8. Travel agents can do all of the above for you, but even with their recommendations I still feel the need to research places myself before I decide.

I have a few reviews on (username : carcar47), I am not a travel agent but I love doing this kind of research, so if you have any questions or other good stuff you have found, let's share.

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