5 Ways to Save on a Vacation – Diplomat Style

Okay, so now that busy season is over, my wonderful girlfriend is doing quite a bit of a “fun” full court press for a vacation or a trip of some sort.  With the stress that’s occurred over the last few months – an all inclusive deal is being talked about.  Now – I won’t go off and pay for or book any vacation on the spur of the dime, the first mention of doing one or the knee jerk reaction.  The old-old Lanny would have done this maybe 10 years ago or so, but not Mr. “on the path to financial freedom” Lanny and how much further can we save for it and/or reduce the cost?  However – I do agree a trip, new adventures and a break is WELL needed and definitely think it would be a perfect idea, right now, yesterday and tomorrow.  So what did I/We do to analyze this?

First – the suggested vacation

In the last three years, I’ve been able to travel to Punta Cana, twice – once with friends and once with my girlfriend.  Same location and better pricing on the 2nd go around, 6 nights, all-inclusive adults-only vacation, with 5+ restaurants, swim-up bar areas, beaches that are endless, multiple pools and great service all around.  How the heck do I sound right now?  Does this even sound like me?  More than likely not, but it is a very fun & a very funny time, as well as a great experience to truly have little-to-no stress while you are there, since you have essentially paid for 99% of the trip up-front.  However, these trips, as one can guess, are very pricey and it’s hard to fathom knowing that you could do so much – buy a stock, put more money down on some debt or even travel somewhere even more interesting for far less.  We could explore a different area, have a different experience outside of US borders, see things within US borders and just do something “different”.  I think that’s what’s made this so hard – we both may be “comfortable” in choosing what we already know – but the reason why we both know how nice this area/resort is – was from “jumping in the waters” to find out.

One thing that we both know – the resort we have been to is phenomenal.  I wouldn’t have gone the second time if it wasn’t.  Therefore, when thinking of going there again – it would realllllllly have to be less than last year, somehow.  This is a story of paying for a stock that’s undervalued (except no income comes back to you… only this time, I would more than likely write while there, I promise!).  We both thought it would be fun if other friends/family members could go – but right now – that has not been a successful option yet.  We equally spent around the $178/night last year on this trip, each for 6 nights.  A very lavish trip, in my eyes, from a price standpoint and simply what you end up doing there isn’t as adventurous as other trips one can take.  The stress during the trip was also carried – as last year we flew into a wedding rehearsal, a wedding weekend, followed by another bachelor party + wedding weekend in the weeks after.  Therefore, things were quite hectic before, thoughts occurring during and after we stepped back into the US.  This year, no doubt, will be very different from that stand point.

To make this more interesting, we wanted to see how to somehow reduce the cost of this trip if we want to do this again.  We’ve been patient and have witness the price drop over $150 in total over the last two weeks.  Currently, the trip to Punta Cana for $966 per person + $24 per person for shuttle to/from the resort.   That is $990 whopping per person!  A very expense vacation/trip and one that we haven’t exactly purchased out right, yet.  Though the lady definitely is putting the full-court press on us to do it…. doesn’t she know that that’s a nice, solid dividend stock purchase?!  Or groceries for almost a year or a large extra payment on the car or could be used to pay down the mortgage?  We’ll see this end result, but for the sake of the goal I am trying to get at, we will use it as our real-life example.  Time to analyze the vacation – diplomat style!

5 ways to save on the vacation trip

We are employing at least 5 ways we are looking at reducing the cost for the potential trip we take, key word – potential – this hasn’t been booked!  She’s getting antsy, but our patience has worked out quite well for the considerations.  Here are ways to save on the trip:

1.) Coupon Codes – Of Course!  This wouldn’t be a fun adventure without hunting your A$$ off for a coupon code on the web.  Check dontpayfull.com, or other sources, for the best coupon code made available.  Luckily, the main website we were looking had a code for $75 off price in total, not too bad!  Don’t give up, either, as about 10 days ago there was no code and all of a sudden – boom, one had popped up.  Therefore, the $1,980 price above does decline down to $1,905.

2.) Credit Card Cash Back – Now, I’m not talking about signing up for a credit card here, but am simply talking about the 1% cash back that you receive on mostly/all purchases.  In this example – our potential $1,905 vacation purchase could net us back an extra $19.05 in cash back rewards.  This tends to be overlooked in the grand scheme of booking a trip, that’s for sure.  Guess what?  The 1% cash back is more than likely the bare minimum cash back program.  Your card may even get you 2, 3, or even 5 percent back, depending on which one you have and what the best sources of use is for the program.  I bet there are many cards out there that offer better cash back for travel.

3.) Cash Back Sites – Yes!  One wouldn’t be able to talk about reducing your overall cost without some cash back sites.  With our wonderful Swagbucks site, they offer you a whopping 2% cash back!  If you don’t like Swagbucks, one can then use eBates.com, which offers you a solid 1.5% cash back on the purchase made.  For us, we would be leveraging as much as possible, so the 2% is in full play here.  At $1,905 – the 2% would provide $38.10 in reduction of total price.  Okay, drilling it down now.

4.) Call to Negotiate – Ah, as you know one should always ask for a discount.  Now, I haven’t done this in this instance, but have performed this in other travel occasions.  In fact, I called for a Florida trip where we were renting someone’s apartment and were able to save almost 20% by simply negotiating down the price.  I do this all of the time for work when I do travel and guess what – it works around 75% of the time and news flash – it doesn’t ever hurt to try even if you don’t get it.  You never know until you try.

5.) Credit Card Sign Up – Okay, now to revert back to #2, one could, in fact, open a new credit card and receive, for example, a $300 sign up bonus to open.  Now, I don’t whole heartedly recommend opening multiple credit cards, but if you are in absolute dire need to reduce your cost, this is a tried and trued option that does, in fact, work.  We more than likely won’t be doing this, but I know if you were to go full travel-hack, that this would be the way to go.  However – I would suggest a no-annual fee card and if you are doing it merely for the purpose of using the cash back to pay yourself back for the trip – put the card away and/or clip it up and never use it again.  This sits at #5, just for the sake that I wouldn’t likely be using this method but that the savings can be substantial.

Other vacation Saving tips

It doesn’t end there, though, as these are other great tips to save on the trip or any other vacation:

– Patience.  As stated above – patience has worked out wonders and we would have both, combined, have spent $300 more dollars.  Being patient helps analyze different situations and even allows further price competition and other fun little – codes – to be released.  Also – you can find out that you may not want to do the trip and have thought of a different idea, too!

– Reach out to friends/family – not necessarily in this case/situation – but when you do travel, one can see if their friends/family have a spare room to sleep in for a night or two on your trip.  I know so many people that do this when traveling internationally and have relatives abroad or simply travel within the continental.  Saves quite a bit on lodging and potentially food.

– One can go through swagbucks or eBates to also book dinner or event vouches, and receive cash back from those purchases, all while already receiving a discounted item.  Double-win here, especially when you throw in the credit card points you just earned.

– Bringing/packing/cooking your own food – This is a game changer.  I know when we traveled to Florida using insanely discounted $102 flights, we decided to go grocery shopping for 65% of our meals  I would say and it saved SO much money, was fun, saved time and was healthier.  Love doing this and can see this being a very welcoming method to other vacations we’ll have.

The final tally

Well, first we started at around $1,980.  Then, after a reduction of $75 from the coupon code and then applying the credit card cash back + online-cash back sites to the after coupon code price, we are able to reduce the price by another $19.05 and $38.10.  This is a total reduction in the overall price of $1,847.85 or 6.67% savings, thus far.  Now if you were to employ the $300 cash back, obviously this brings you down to $1,547.85, which would be an ultimate 22% reduction in overall price.  We still haven’t pulled the purchase on this, and I don’t believe we’ll do the credit card, either.  Therefore – we are remaining patient and are still considering other more adventurous, less-expensive options!  Plus, cough, cough, Bert, cough may have even mentioned a double-date Florida trip during the next early-winter.  We will definitely keep EVERYONE posted with what we decide to do here!

What do you think?  What sort of travel hacking or cost reduction do you employ?  Do you prefer stay-cations?  Making a trip to Thailand?  A road trip to a condo/apartment with friends/family?  Please post below and also share your tips/tricks on how to reduce costs!  Thanks everyone and talk soon, enjoy your trips : )

-Lanny

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7 thoughts on “5 Ways to Save on a Vacation – Diplomat Style

  1. MrsSLM and I went to a resort a few years back (long before the SLM’s arrived), got an amazing deal by going slightly off season. Ended up at some awesome 5 star resort for an insane discount, and since it was just a couple weeks out from the busy season, it was running at like half capacity. Never a line at the bar, could always find a nice spot at the restaurants, was awesome.

    • MrSLM –

      Exactly, and that’s awesome. I think with travel fears hitting quite a few countries + the season may be dying down, as I know May is very popular for Punta Cana I believe, that that’s why it’s been discounted. Still debating this for sure though! Appreciate your feedback as always.

      -Lanny

  2. I think you should definitely go on vacation, you are on the path of financial independence and the $1,500 won’t make a difference. Vacations are essential, as any European would tell you.

    But if you want to “see something,” then go abroad and not just an all-inclusive.

    You forgot one of the many hobbies of highly effective savers: airline points. It’s another game which saves thousands. For example, I, like many people, got the Chase Sapphire reserve. I met the minimum spending requirements and now have 2 free round-trip tickets to anywhere in Europe, a value of $1,500 – 2,000.

    • BigAl –

      Thanks for the motivation to book something. We had a good debate last night and may even do a roadtrip instead. We are still monitoring this deal and if it stays the same by the mid-month, we may do it and if it drops, we may pounce on it haha. We have a few other fun festivities we can do to explore our own country, so that’s been put on the table. Excited, regardless!

      Would love to go abroad, stay in hostels/air bnb’s and just explore and try to learn the towns. Am excited for a chance to do that, that’s for damn sure.

      -Lanny

  3. There’s no reason you can’t do that now. Open the cards, put your bills on them then fly somewhere your dollar goes really far like Croatia or Portugal. It won’t be $1,500 (more like $2,500), but the experience is worth it. In Lisbon you can stay for $40/night and have dinner for 2 for $30 including wine. Take the time to enjoy life before you are too old to fly. That”s when you do roadtrips.

  4. Lanny,
    I Agree with those points, especially buying your own food. However for travel Credit Card Points > Cash Back. I booked round trip tickets to Europe last summer for my wife and I – total $360 (taxes and fees). All the flights were in points. I recommend using the Chase Sapphire or Reserve card, banking those points, adding in points from Freedom, Ink, Slate and other Chase cards. Then using Sapphire transfer 1 point to 1 mile of United. United allows you to book through their website via an Code Share Partner (Star Alliance). So we flew United to the UK from DC, and Lufthansa to Italy and home again. Other airlines have other cards, that is just mine as an example.
    Also cheapo air like Ryan Air is a good deal.
    Once you get there, a tip for saving on hotels is using a hotel credit card like Hilton Honors, and book hotels with points. On that last trip I got us all (including friends) rooms in Wales for free (almost $20 tax).
    Points can get you very far in travel.
    – Gremlin

  5. hey Lanny,
    you should consider going to Belize. Going to places nobody talks about is a good idea :-). They speak English, the money is cheap ($1 USD = $0.50 BZ dollar) and they have amazing island where you can stay for cheap. We stayed 4 days on Tobacco Caye, an island with about 50 people max on it. Did snorkeling, kayaking and SUP with 3 delicious meals per day for $1,500 for a family of 5 (not including flights obviously because we drove there 😉 ).

    Let me know if you want to consider this option (just type “tobacco caye” in Google image first 😉 ).
    Cheers,
    Mike.

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