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We all need a proper vacation now and then. Maybe you’re feeling stressed, overworked, and on the verge of motivational burnout. Maybe it’s time for a break. If a vacation is on your horizon, consider booking a vacation package.
A vacation package is a combination deal that includes airfare, hotel stay, and sometimes car rentals. You could book all of these separately and possibly pinch a few pennies in the process, but vacation packages are extremely convenient (e.g. no risk of mismatched flights) and are usually price-competitive.
In addition, some vacation packages are all-inclusive, meaning you pay one price that covers all of the lodgings, food, drinks, gratuities, and even some of the services offered by the establishment (such as night performances and entertainment).
Here are a few tips for finding the best vacation packages without shelling out too much cash. Note: I write from the perspective of an American. Unless noted otherwise, assume that these are for people in the United States only.
I recently booked a vacation package through Costco Travel and it was an absolute breeze. The offerings were great, the price was great, and the whole process was as simple as could be. I did it all online but you could just as easily do it over the phone.
The one caveat is that Costco Travel is exclusively for Costco members in the United States. Membership starts at $55 per year. That being said, you can choose from destinations spanning North America, South America, Europe, and even Africa.
Costco is known for balancing price with quality and their travel branch is no different. As an example, I recently booked a 4-night stay at a well-known all-inclusive resort in Mexico for $899 (including round-trip airfare). I’m fairly certain that I couldn’t have gotten that kind of deal anywhere else.
They also offer travel insurance for a modest price through Travel Guard, which includes coverage for theft, accidents, lost luggage, missed flights, trip delays, and more. Highly recommended.
When it comes to vacation packages, Kayak is one of the most oft-recommended sites on the web. Don’t be fooled by the name: even if you aren’t into sporty or outdoorsy activities, you’ll find plenty of awesome vacation spots here that you’ll find enjoyable.
What’s fantastic about Kayak is that their search engine scours numerous hotel and flight providers to find the best prices available, then combines them into convenient packages that make it easy for you to browse and compare. If price is your primary concern, you can’t skip Kayak.
To compare, the same trip as the one I booked through Costco Travel would cost $1159 if booked through Kayak. That’s a difference of $260, which isn’t negligible but certainly acceptable since it doesn’t require the kind of membership that Costco requires.
But more importantly, Kayak is available in 30 countries across the world rather than being limited to the United States. It’s the closest thing to an international travel agent that you can find.
The self-proclaimed deal experts over at TravelZoo may not run the prettiest or most up-to-date website, but their prices are definitely worth your attention. These are some serious deals to snag if you can catch them in time.
Many of the packages here are sourced from other sites, so you can think of TravelZoo as more of a vacation package curator than anything else.
Having looked through their offerings, I found a similar trip to the one I booked through Costco Travel and it was priced at $659, which is $240 cheaper but not all-inclusive and only available during a short window during the off-season. Still, what a great price for a round-trip flight and hotel stay.
In order to view any of the deals, you’ll need to subscribe to their free email newsletter. On the bright side, TravelZoo can be used by those in: United States, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Latin America, Spain, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
Groupon isn’t as hip as it used to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely useless. In fact, there are several ways to make use of Groupon to your benefit, and grabbing vacation deals is one of them.
Sign into the Groupon website and navigate to the Getaways section where you’ll find a collection of vacation deals that are available to you. Most of the destinations are within the United States, but there are a handful that take you over to Mexico, the Caribbean, and even over to Europe and Asia.
However, for actual vacation packages (which include airfare), click on the “Air-Inclusive Vacations” category. I’ve found resort+flight packages to Mexico for as cheap as $479 per person this way. The downside, of course, is limited destination variety.
iTravel2000 [No Longer Available]
For those of you who live north of the United States, you may want to consider using iTravel2000, which is an online travel package website specifically for Canada. The prices are great and the website is easy to use. No complaints from me.
If you’re in the United States but live close to the Canadian border, you can make use of this website too assuming you’re willing to put up with the inconvenience of first driving north. Just be aware of potential inconveniences and issues that may crop up due to travel restrictions between the United States and certain countries.
Using iTravel2000, I found an all-inclusive trip similar to the one booked through Costco Travel priced at $1019, though that included several more nights (I couldn’t find anything similar for fewer than eight days). That’s $127 per day for both airfare and resort. Not bad at all.
Inexpensive Vacations Are Possible
Again, let me reiterate that you might be able to get even better prices by scrimping and scrounging for individual flights, hotels, and car rentals. However, you’ll also have to make sure that they’re compatible (dates, locations, etc.) and it’s going to be a more stressful process overall.
If you want the convenience of a vacation package while staying within an affordable budget, these are the sites you should use. You’ll be surprised by how cheap some of these vacation destinations can be.
Which sites do you use when planning your travels? Are there any vacation package sites that you prefer? Share your advice with us in the comments below!
Image Credits: Couple on Vacation Via Shutterstock