What is more precious...Money Or Time? Tricky question right!
Both are pretty valuable, especially for overworked people in desperate need of a vacation. Everyone wants to take a vacation but many dread the work of vacation planning.
One of the first steps in planning a vacation should be a discussion about budget. Why do I need a vacation budget you ask? It helps by keeping you on track, focused, efficient and most important - it saves you from disappointment.
When it comes to vacation budgets - planning a vacation is just like buying a little black dress. (sorry guys, don't mean to sound sexist but every woman understands this concept)
Let's say you've been invited to some gala event where you need to dress to impress. This event calls for a killer, little black dress - something fun & sophisticated. You are on the hunt. Do you...
- Head to your favorite designer to have a couture dress made for you?
- Visit to Rodeo Drive
- Go to Nordstroms
- shop at TJMaxx
- Rummage through your favorite Thrift Store
There are millions of little black dresses that can be found in any one of these places. It's all a matter of price point. If you have a black dress budget, you know exactly where to go to shop efficiently and score the dress of your dreams. A budget helps you to stay on track so you can find the dress that will fit your curves and pocketbook.
Sure, everyone wants to find that incredibly expensive, perfect fit, one of a kind designer masterpiece discovered tucked tightly on a thrift store rack for $4 but in reality, how often does that really happen? While you're off shopping in all the wrong places, your perfect black dress might just be walking out the door with someone else.
This same scenario happens when shopping for the perfect vacation! Travelers can visit the same destination and have radically different price points depending on their budget. There can even be a huge price difference at the same hotel depending on whether your room has a parking lot or penthouse view.
There are over 20,000 hotel rooms in Jamaica pricing from a few dollars to several thousand dollars per night. Without a budget, image the amount of time it would take to sort thru all of these different choices for just your hotel room. This is just one example. Fact is, vacation planners are faced with a multitude of choices regardless of the destination.
Having a vacation budget will allow you to focus on the right vacation choices that fit your perfect price range. It helps you to zero in and avoids ADHD "shiney" shopping. It allows you to compare your selections with your other search criteria like availability for your specific travel dates, rooms that will fit everyone traveling with you and those with all the ammenities that you desire. A vacation budget inables you to make intelligent buying choices. It helps you to decipher the best VALUE for your vacation dollar.
If you plan on booking your own trip, having a vacation budget offers you direction and focus that will help you to shop efficiently. It will also help you to relax. Vacations are not relaxing or enjoyable if you're sweating next month's credit card bill. That is not a fun vacation.
For these same reasons, if you're working with a travel agent, expect the question about budget to come up. Some travel agents will ask straight up while others will take a softer approach like asking questions like "what hotels do have you stayed in while traveling in the past". This will give them some idea on your price point.
Some clients are reluctant to discuss their budget with their travel agent. A good agent knows it's not about selling this year's vacation. It's about creating a trusting relationship so that you'll come back year after year while telling your friends to do the same. That said, a good agent doesn't want to waste their client's precious time. Honestly, they don't want to waste their own time either.
Often pricing is based on availability. This is especially true with airline tickets. Buying decisions have to be made fairly quickly to avoid disappointments. Again, having a working budget allows you to make intelligent buying decisions on the fly.
So before you set out to plan your next great adventure, have a frank family discussion about money and set a vacation budget. It will save time and avoid stress. Who knows? By staying focused and on track with your vacation finances, you may find that you have a little spending money left over to buy a sexy little black dress to wear on your next vacation!