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Old April 8th, 2007, 05:11 PM
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Default Share your vacation money-saving tips

I'm a single freelancer and have to make my vacation dollars stretch. Thought I would share how I saved money on my next trip and I'm sure many people here have tips too. Let's skip the smuggling alcohol and pop on board because that's a given and an argument-starter. Hope people find this helpful and not too boring!

My solo vacation consists of Fri/Sat/Sun nights in South Beach before a 4-day Carnival cruise to Key West and Calica.

FLIGHT
The flight from MN cost $3.80 because last October I let Northwest bump me to a later flight for a $300 voucher. Last year, I flew for free with frequent flier miles. If you have the time to spend in the airport, take the bump!

HOTEL
Priceline is great for getting a cheap hotel in Miami/South Beach. Use the website Bidding for Travel for great advice on how to bid to get the bare minimum the hotels will take for the area and star rating. You can also tell what hotels you are likely to get and can do some research on whether they are the right hotel for you. It's easy to get a pre-cruise hotel in downtown Miami for $80 or less per night.

This time, I didn't do Priceline because I've been to South Beach before and I decided to pay a little more for a hotel in a location closer to the places I want to visit and save money by walking everywhere. Researched a ton of hotels and decided The Kent was in an ideal location and people's reviews were reasonably good for a 3-star. Most sites were offering the same price and then I found out that, strangely-enough, the hotel's own website had the best price so I booked there. $130 per night for 3 nights for a total after taxes of about $440. Most Miami hotels charge a mandatory "resort fee" for things like beach chair use/internet access/etc. so I expect to be charged about $10-$20 a day extra once I get there. Many people are surprised by this expense after they book so I'm telling you about it now.

DAY TRIP TO KEY LARGO WHILE IN SOUTH BEACH
Last year, I went snorkeling in Key Largo with South Beach Divers and will be doing it again. It was a ton of fun with a small group of about 10 or 12 people. Some people were scuba divers and the rest were snorkelers. The tour guide was a certified dive master. The cost to snorkel was $65 (inc. mask, snorkel, fins, flotation vest). To ride in the van from the dive shop to Key Largo was another $5pp. We stopped along the way to have lunch at Subway (cost extra). Went to 2 dive spots, saw a bunch of pretty fish (and a shark!) and the entire trip lasted from 10:45 am to 7pm. Great way to spend the day. By booking online this time, I saved 10% on the $65.

CRUISE
My cruise costs $294 for a 1A guarantee single occupancy. Booked the guarantee to hopefully get a free upgrade to a cat 4 or better. I obsessively watched the prices on Travelocity for weeks and booked through Carnival on this price because it seemed to be the best price for this time of year. I was right because the price has gone up to $354 already. I added a transfer back to the airport ($14, less than a taxi) and prepaid tipping for a total of $404. Travelocity has the same prices as the Carnival site but the way they let you change trip details and see revised results makes it really easy to compare prices for different travel dates and see how prices go up and down depending on how near the cruise date is so you can tell when is the best time to book.

Didn't book any excursions because they are overpriced through the cruiseline. This site has given me a ton of ideas of things to do on my own.

There'll be one formal dining night and I'll be wearing a Jones of New York long tuxedo dress I wore on a cruise several years ago. Got it at Marshall's for about $50. Swapping out the tuxedo jacket for a beaded shawl to make it different for me.

So far, my vacation has cost me $915 for a chockfull week. Not too bad, I think, considering what it covers.

What are some ways you've saved money on your vacations?[/b]
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Old April 8th, 2007, 09:01 PM
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I don't go to the photo gallery on the ship, unless we have purposely had photo taken at one of the settings around the ship. I carry my camera with me always and people are more than happy to snap a picture for you.
When my daughter (12 at the time, she's 23 now) and I went we spent $60.00 on pictures alone!
I also take a thermal mug with me that I fill up with iced tea on the lido deck and carry with me. I am not as tempted by the cute little umbrellas. Saves both money and calories.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 10:05 PM
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We drive instead of fly to the port. Always get the kids a soda card.
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Old April 8th, 2007, 11:40 PM
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We fill a container (sports bottle etc) with water from the ship to take ashore. it beats the $2.95 or $3.95 the ship charges for water.

We also stay away from the photo galley and the inches of gold stands.

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Old April 9th, 2007, 09:46 AM
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We do everything on our own with a taxi, we do not book anything from Carnival, we also stay away from the bingo, photo's, and all the other money making things that can drain you,

We do give a little to the casino,
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Old April 9th, 2007, 09:49 AM
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I pay myself first when I get my paycheck and it goes towards my cruises.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 11:54 AM
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I will be flying for free with frequent flyer miles I accrued while charging rent, groceries, gasoline, etc. to my citibank american airlines frequentl flyer debit/mastercard. Well, almost free, it's $20 each for taxes.

For those who don't live near the coast, getting free airfare can be the biggest thing you save on for a cruise!

Otherwise, being a single mom, I'm only having us go on one excursion out of the 2 excursion days... in Nassau, not Freeport. On the Freeport day we'll either see if we can find a quiet free beach near the tendering dock or stay on board.

I'm getting the soda card for my son, and I dont' drink soda but will refill a water bottle at water fountains on the ship. I don't drink alcohol or gamble, and I'm not one to be tempted to buy any ship merchandise, unless they offer discounts on the last day, when we would only buy an item or two that is under $10.

Shopping around for best hotel and car rental deals for before/after cruise also helps.

After years of dreaming, I'm finally able to go on this cruise but still have to be frugal.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 12:35 PM
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My DH and I only book military discount cruises. (Actually, our first 2 or 3 cruises weren't because we didn't know about the military discounts then.) We also don't buy alcoholic drinks on the cruise. We fill water bottles on the ship and take them on shore, except in Mexico where you can buy a large bottle of water for $1. We don't gamble at the casino or play bingo (even though I love to play bingo). We love to cruise, so we budget so that we can cruise more often. We have only taken one ship tour, and that was on our first cruise. Since then, we rent a car, take local buses or servicio collectivo vans (Mexico), and go on our own. We have a great time, and it is quite an adventure to go out on your own. It does help, though, that my husband speaks very good Spanish.

Happy cruising to all!!

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Old April 9th, 2007, 03:56 PM
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Clothing cost me quite a bit. Learned all you need is a couple sundresses (target has them $20 or less), a couple bathing suits, a couple pair of sandals/flipflops and a couple formal dresses.

The formal dresses are what kills but if you wait until after prom season you can find them 60-80% off. The last one I wore was on sale for $20 and retailed for well over $100. Waiting for the end of May to find my next couple formal dresses Carla
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Old April 9th, 2007, 05:04 PM
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Default This is how I do it

I am a combination of all of the above.

I am also a solo cruzer and, regardless of how lovely a balcony/oceanview may be, I sacrifice the notion for the $$ saved by booking a Cat. 1A or 1A guaranteed. I usually get an upgrade but always end up staying in an inside room. Since I am solo, I am only in the room to shower, sleep and change clothes so anything above the category of the engine room is fine with me.

I also research, research, research the price and try to book my desired cruise when I see the price go down. This next cruise I am on, this method has backfired and I actually paid $50 more because I waited too long to book it. Oh well!!! Can't win them all.

Once the cruise is booked (and paid), I continue to watch the price so that I can call the cruiseline and request a OBC for any drop in price. This can be done as many times as the price drops (on Carnival at least) and these OBC's add up to a nice little sum to spend on the ship or to wipe out your auto-tips.

I don't do very many of the ship's excursions b/c of the price and they are just too crowded.

I use frequent flyer miles for my airfare. Like another poster stated, I use my credit card for everything all year around and will usually have enough miles to purchase a roundtrip ticket to the point of embarkation.

I do not purchase souvenir's for everyone I know at home. My souvenir of choice is the handy refrigerator magnet or a keychain. That is all I need and I can usuall get one from every port for under $2.00.

I like Foo-Foo drinks (under $6 each) and do not drink wine with my dinner. I am happy drinking iced tea and fruit punch so I can live without soda for 7 days.

May take a picture on formal day and purchase it if it comes out really well.

The cruiseline makes their money on casino and foo-foos with me.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 05:21 PM
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The biggest savers for me are:
1) Don't buy much alcohol
2) Stay out of the casino
3) Book excursions on your own when at port
4) No No to Bingo
5) Priceline for hotels
6) Get back on the ship for meals when at ports

I am sure there are more but thats for starters.

The money I save helps for the next cruise!
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Old April 9th, 2007, 11:18 PM
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This next cruise will cost me very little..... My husband isnt going with me. hehehe My daughter and i are going to share a cabin. Hubby wants to go to Vegas and I dont want to. So we compromised. Each doing our own thing. We went on a cruise last year and got a balcony... Well sorry but I cant go back now to inside. It was shear heaven. But i am a waitress and i save up all my change and save dollar bills with the letter C on them. For Carnival cruise!! Be surprised how fast they add up too. Other then that I am not a big drinker and I gamble very little. So it will be a cheaper trip for me cause my hubby loves to gamble and drink a few... hehehehe
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Old April 30th, 2007, 10:39 PM
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I have several wasy that I am saving money.

My friend and i are going on the Celebration July 14. This will be her first and my third.
She is soooo excited she is trying everything she can. (I went ahead and paid it off and she is reimbursing me as she goes along).

So far we have sold things on ebay and had yard sales. My birthday was yesterday and I got some money for that.

Her birthday is in May and she asked for money as well.
Other ways I have been saving money is to limit my trips to Wal-Mart and my favorite local thrift store. When I go to those places I usually buy things I don't need, but would like to have because it's on sale or is a great deal.

If I need to get some thigns for the cruise then I will, but until then I limit my spending. I don't go out to eat as much (lunch with co-workers).

We are having a yard sale every Saturday up until the cruise. It's alot of work but it pays off in the end!
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Old April 30th, 2007, 11:24 PM
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Would you believe I took all my aluminum cans over the year to the recycling place and got $150??! They were having an Earth Week special at 85 cents per pound.

I went back to my hotel's website to recheck their prices and their rates went down. Saved myself $100 by canceling and rebooking.

I have also cut way back on going out and have been using my Coke rewards to get Blockbuster movie rentals.
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Old May 1st, 2007, 06:21 AM
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also research, research, research the price and try to book my desired cruise when I see the price go down. This next cruise I am on, this method has backfired and I actually paid $50 more because I waited too long to book it. Oh well!!! Can't win them all.
Quote:

So when you guys are researching a cruise, when, usually, does the price go down the most?
One time we were walking around the ship and we had our video camera rolling. Well, we went into the ship's photo gallery and zoomed in on our photos. We even joked about being too cheep to buy the photos but we would video them instead! Very funny video!
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Old May 1st, 2007, 10:31 AM
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Here's another idea.... Ask relatives and close friends instead of buying you presents for your Birthday, Mothers Day, Christmas or Chanukah, buy Funship Dollars instead!!!


Last year between my parents and my in-laws, for the above three, my husband and I got a total of $400 each!!! That paid for one person....


Elaine
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Old May 1st, 2007, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Florida322
also research, research, research the price and try to book my desired cruise when I see the price go down. This next cruise I am on, this method has backfired and I actually paid $50 more because I waited too long to book it. Oh well!!! Can't win them all.
Yes, it's very tricky to know the right time to commit. I use Travelocity to track the prices of cruises based on how close the travel date is and the season. Kind of gives me an idea of how the price and cabin availability changes over time and what prices are best. There's a sweet spot at the point where a 1A is its lowest price and will soon go up because they are only guarantees left. I don't track the better cabins so I don't know how their prices fluctuate. You could just book early and keep checking for prices going down and asking for refund/shipboard credit.
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Old May 2nd, 2007, 08:54 PM
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We are a family of 4 sailing.

I took a 2nd job at the local YMCA. Not only do we get the membership advantage, the kids volunteer and I work.

My check goes directly into a special savings acct. In 3 years have only cashed 3 checks. All the others go right into the bank.

Everyone at the Y knows what I do and we figure how many umbrella beverages each shift will cover

We still reserach everything. Constantly watch the cruise price - always willing to have an onboard credit waiting for us.

Safe sailing.
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Old May 3rd, 2007, 12:35 AM
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Its quite simple, figure out a budget you and your family can all live by, but always remember the 1st rule of saving, pay yourself first. You will save more money and vacation more often!
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