Whether or not you are a fan of making News Year’s resolutions, chances are you plan to travel in 2023. Travel is always a great goal, and though the travel environment continues to offer challenges, the outlook for 2023 is good and improving.
I’ve written that travel bargains are a thing of the past. That won’t change for 2023, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice value. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of the travel dollars you spend in 2023.
1. Book early. The days of last minute travel bargains are over…booking early is the best way to maximize value from your travel dollars. It usually gets you the best price and it always gets you the best choice of itinerary and accommodations. You may find also more add-ons included in your trip price, and you’ll get the best choice of dates. The most popular destinations and cruises are already booking up for 2023 so if you wait, you may be disappointed.
2. Not every trip worth taking is a bucket list trip. Know the difference and where you are willing to make trade-offs in your travel that can save you money. Premium economy air is great, business class air is even better, but is either worth spending more than the cost of the rest of your trip when you only get to enjoy the benefit for a few hours? Maybe for a bucket list trip, not so much for a weekend getaway to Miami. Know where you are willing to make cost trade-offs and put your money where you’ll get the greatest return.
3. Once you book a trip, don’t look back. The time to price shop is before you book, not after. Once you’ve booked your trip, think about the value you are getting out of the travel dollars you spend and don’t dwell on whether you could have saved a few bucks. Cheap travel is just that…cheap travel, and it is almost never the best value. When a client we’ve booked finds a lower price for their trip, we check into it for them. Invariably we find that getting that lower price involves tradeoffs they aren’t willing to make. Once you’ve booked a trip, don’t look back…look forward to making the most of the trip you booked.
4. Buy trip insurance. I wish I could say air travel will improve in 2023. It won’t. Air remains one of the few downsides of travel…United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby recently said as much to industry analysts and travel reporters. Kirby commented, “The system simply can’t handle the volume today, much less the anticipated growth. There are a number of airlines who cannot fly their schedules. The customers are paying the price.” Purchasing trip insurance gives you peace of mind if your flights get bolluxed up and it protects you against more costly expenses should you encounter medical problems like illness or injury. Nobody likes to think about all the things that could go wrong when they plan their vacation, but trip insurance can protect you financially if the unthinkable happens.
5. Avoid peak travel times. Easy to say, harder to do but it is worth considering how much flexibility you have in your schedule. If you can’t avoid the peak travel season, and many people can’t, perhaps you can go early or late enough in the season to avoid paying the highest prices.
6. Stay longer. Airfare continues to be one of most expensive components of travel. Planning for a longer trip won’t necessarily save you on airfare, but it can help you make the most of the money you do spend, and that’s what value is all about.
7. Avoid changing plans. There is almost no aspect of travel that doesn’t end up costing you more when you make changes after you’ve booked. Spend more time planning before you book so you are less likely to need changes once you’ve committed money to a trip.
8. Make sure the trip you are taking is the trip YOU want to take. Too often people choose destinations, tours, or cruises because family members or friends made the same trip last year and had an amazing experience. That’s great for them…but does it work for you? Make 2023 the year you are the trend setter.
9. Ignore supplier marketing. I get dozens of marketing e-mails every day. Some suppliers send me multiple “deals” each day…every day. Is their really value in all those specials? No, of course not. All of those deals you see in your e-mails or in ads aren’t real. They are marketing ploys intended to get you emotionally hooked on a trip so you’ll pay more than you plan to, or to convince you to take a trip the supplier wants to sell you rather than the trip you want to take.
10. Use a competent travel advisor. Whether that is Tidewater Cruise and Travel or another advisor you have a relationship with, a travel advisor is the best way to get the most value out of your hard-earned money.
The cost of travel is not going down, but that doesn’t mean travel isn’t a good investment. Plan early, know what you want to get out of each trip you take, buy trip insurance, and use a travel advisor to help you get the best value for the money you spend.