10 Easy Money Saving Tips To Maximize Your Vacation Budget

It’s no surprise traveling can be very expensive but it’s also true that traveling is one of the most rewarding, life enhancing activities one can spend money on. It’s a great way to be inspired, recharge and grow.  Anyone can travel and everyone deserves to!

Regardless of whether our budget is large or small, we all want to a good value! Here are 10 easy ways to save money while you travel.

1. Plan in advance.  While it’s not necessary to plan ahead to get a good deal, it certainly helps to start looking at airfares early. This allows for time to watch market trends and spot a good deal instantly when they become available.  Subscribe to travel news outlets to get alerts on sales.  Or if you have a good travel agent have them keep an eye out for you.  Usually 3 to 6 months in advance is a good time to start pricing.

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2. Skip baggage fees—don’t check in luggage.  Say what? Yes, I said it! Baggage fees generally start at a minimum of $25 per bag and up for each consecutive bag in each direction. For some people the concept of packing one bag may seem impossible but with the right packing strategy and selection of items it is definitely possible to travel light, even if traveling for longer than a week.  Not only will you save money—you will save time!!

3. Eat local.  Sure, resorts and hotels have great restaurants but they can be very pricey (and not always good). When possible, get familiar with the surrounding neighborhood and check out local restaurants, bars and cafés. One can often find great local restaurants around with authentic local specialties and local prices just steps away!

Misto Salat

4. Find the local grocery store.  With many hotels charging $5 and up for a bottle of water staying hydrated can get pretty expensive.  Make a quick trip to the local grocery or corner shop for bottled water, snacks and munchies to keep in your room and while on the go.

5. Take local transportation.  Local trams, trolleys, buses and metros are not only less expensive than taxis but also an exciting way to explore a city and meet new people!

Local Transportation

 

6. If your hotel offers continental breakfast, take advantage.  Some shy away from these offerings but even just a coffee and small bite in the morning is enough to get you going and certainly better than starting a day of sight-seeing with an empty stomach.

Fresh, simple, delicious.

7. Research local museums for special hours and rates.  Many offer students, seniors and children discounts and most offer free entry on certain days of the week.

8. Check out local happy hours.  Have an aperitif on the cheap at a local bar or pub and while you’re at it have a chat with the bartender for tips on local favorite spots. Local recommendations are invaluable!

9. Take a walk and try street vendor food.  If you really want to get to know a place you must try the local food.  Street vendors offer cultural and culinary reflections of their local community, adventures for the senses. Of course, ask around or survey which ones are more popular and use common sense.

Mercado

10. Make friends.  Meeting new people on the road, especially locals, makes for a most rewarding experience. If you’re open to it, you will find people are very friendly and generous, perhaps offering advice or a visit to a local sight, or if you’re lucky, inviting you into their home.

 

La Paz, Mexico – The Fun Baja

La Paz is the capital and largest city of the southern half of the Baja peninsula yet evokes the nostalgic memory of a sleepy fishing town. Established in 1535 it has much history to discover but for many visiting La Paz it’s all about the water! 

Very well-know by Mexican nationals and international tourists for its protected waters in the Sea of Cortez, it is also highly rated as a place for excellent sport fishing, scuba diving, whale-watching, snorkeling and many land and water activities.  I had an opportunity to visit La Paz last August for the first time and had an adventure of a lifetime during a day at sea with the local Fun Baja crew. We headed an hour north by boat to the Isla Espírito Santo, named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Bio-Reserve, where we stopped at a sea-lion colony for snorkeling and swimming with sea lions. The fish were a kaleidoscope of shimmering neon yellow, purple and blue, the water crystal clear; the sea lions were playful, curious and fun. Swimming alongside of them, face to face, was a surreal and enlightening experience I will never forget. Truly out of this world!

 

After an hour of play time with these sea creatures we headed to the Fun Baja camp at Ensenada Grande Beach, a gorgeous blue, isolated beach camp stocked with everything you need for a great lunch al fresco. Fresh grilled fish, beer, lounge chaises and, for those left with energy, kayaks and paddle boards.  It was a great day at sea, unforgettable! Fun Baja is true to its name! The staff is fun, super friendly and very knowledgeable, it’s evident they enjoy what they do and my group had a blast along with them!

Fun Baja also offers scuba diving certification programs and overland trips to neighboring Todos Santos and Los Cabos and will be offering their Grey Whale Watching Package to Magdalena Bay through March 30, 2014. Large numbers of  Grey Whales congregate in this bay to mate and birth, making it a very special place. If you’re lucky you will be close enough to rub noses with one! If you go to La Paz, go Fun Baja! You will not be disappointed!

For the après day-at-sea, there are many restaurants and fun pubs in the town of La Paz. The casual El Bismarksito is a local favorite along the Malecon, serving fresh ceviche and fish anyway-you-want-it.  For a fine dining experience, Las Tres Virgenes offers creative and delicious courses of traditional and modern flavors…course after beautiful course, a delicious translation. The Costa Baja Resort is the nicest in the area, there are many options but, unlike Cabo, this is not a resort town so do your research and plan ahead. La Paz is very much a community, you will see locals jogging, swimming and cycling along the beach. The people are very friendly, lots of fun and many speak English. I have only touched on a fraction of what you can do and enjoy in La Paz. You must see for yourself.

Big Sur, Califoria Majestic

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Big Sur. When I think of heaven, this is it. To breathe, to see, to feel.  A majestic, monumental beauty sprawled along an unspoiled California coastline, Big Sur is a must see at least once in your lifetime. Regardless of … Continue reading

Mexico City in the Spring – One of Four Seasons

If you have never been to Mexico City I highly recommend it. Warm people, great food and much to see from Aztec ruins to modern art, the city offers something to satisfy any palette. The best part for me: it’s just a 3 hour flight from LAX!

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With the right planning it’s possible to enjoy the best even for those of us with more moderate budgets. During the spring the Four Seasons Hotel offered a “stay 2 nights get 1 free” package that made for a very reasonable average nightly rate. In addition, the Signature Travel Network offers guests (of select travel agencies only) bonus amenities such as complimentary upgrades (if available), free WIFI and $100 hotel credit , perfect for lunch al fresco in the lush courtyard or the fabulous breakfast buffet including a massive spread of fresh juices, traditional Mexican dishes, fresh fruits, pastries…you name it, the hotel provides it. 

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ImageThe last time I visited the city I stayed in a dorm room at a guest house run by Quakers. But that story will have to be for another time. If you have been there, how do you enjoy the city? Do you take the metro, taxis, buses?