How to take advantage of Black Friday travel deals with very little cash.

Don’t you wish you had a couple thousand dollars sitting in your account that you could use to grab some of these fabulous Black Friday and Cyber Monday travel deals? Yeah, me too.

Here are 3 ways that you can take advantage of the great deals without putting a lot of cash down.

  1. Hotel deals. Book flights and hotels separate. You can book almost any hotel with just paying a 1 night deposit and holding the reservation with your credit card. So, book 7 nights at a great rate, and just pay for 1 night upfront, and the rest when you arrive whether it’s in a month or 8 months from now. But you are locking in today’s discount price.
  2. Think long term, not short term. If you are travelling within 60 days you will be asked to pay the whole package price. It you are booking 3-11 months in advance, you are only asked for a deposit when you book through a travel agent. It’s almost like paying your autopac insurance in monthly instalments. There is an upfront booking fee (about 40 dollars) and a deposit (most often $250-$500  per person.) but then you can pay the rest on monthly instalments or however you choose so that it’s paid in full typically 60 days before you depart. So, if you want to grab the sale price for an Easter or Summer holiday, do it now. Then you’ll pay the vast majority in 2019 after you get your tax refund or Christmas bonus. But again, you lock in today’s sale price. (Yes, you can literally sign up for a $3000 vacation package with under $300 per person upfront cost. Now this deposit is non-refundable and you will lose it if you cannot pay the rest of the commitment, but if you CAN make payments, this is the easiest way to do it. No loan or interest charges from a bank.)
  3. Collect points. Sign up for Air Miles, or Westjet Rewards, or Aeroplan programs. They are free programs. Or get the Westjet World Elite MasterCard (perks like no charge for checked bags) and start collecting points that you can use towards future travel. Even if all you ever accumulate is a free hotel night, or a short haul flight, it is something that you can use to bring more travel into your life without a cost.

Bonus tip: If you collect Westjet Rewards, you can keep accumulating them and “cash them in” with your final payment on your holiday. And yes, you can still redeem these reward dollars when using a travel agent.

 

Stressing yourself out of the moment

Maybe you can relate… Have you ever been somewhere on vacation but you can’t really remember much of anything? Details are foggy and remembrances are vague, but you were not under the influence of alcohol or anything other than stress.  Well, I’ve been there and frankly I don’t recommend it. If you read to the end, I’ll offer a few suggestions on how to vacation with less stress. But first, the story and why this topic came up.

I was walking around a small rural cemetery just this past weekend. I was looking for my mother’s headstone and initially I couldn’t find it. That was frustrating, because of course, I had stood at that very gravesite. I tried to think back, but the day she was buried was a complete blur. I was present, I know that, but stress had taken my mind out of the equation, somewhere less painful, I fathom. I can genuinely remember very little about that day, with clarity except for my uncle making a smart remark about my choice of footwear, my Grandmother playing the piano at the reception hall, the candle blowing out at the alter and feeling my mom’s presence when I hugged my great aunt. But where the gravesite was, in the small rural cemetery, I lacked any remembrances.

I sometimes feel this way, overwhelmed with stress, when I travel. Maybe you do too? There is so much planning and pressure and money riding on having a great trip, doing everything on your list and capturing every moment with a photo that it’s easy to lose sight of what’s going on in the moment. Sometimes there’s so much damn pressure that you just mentally check out.

So, how do we fix this and be more PRESENT and CAPABLE in the moment and able to enjoy our hard earned vacations more?  I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I can make a few suggestions. I invite your comments and suggestions as well. Tell me what works for you.

  1. Delegate. Maybe one of your kids could be the official trip photographer? Take something off your responsibility list, anything.
  2. Stop making lists and “must-do” plans just because some stranger on an Internet forum said “this is the BEST restaurant in Alabama and you’ll never know BBQ if you don’t eat here!”
  3. Schedule free time. Yes, actually. Plan an afternoon or even a day of nothing. Free time where you can follow your whims and just be in the moment. Or even sleep in and get the rest your body and brain craves.
  4. Sit and eat and talk to your companions. No phones allowed at the table.
  5. Make tangible connections. That can be with a person, place or thing. Just make sure to pause long enough so that you can genuinely connect.
  6. Remember that things don’t have to be perfect, to be perfectly wonderful!

How much does a hot vacation cost?

Here’s a handy, off the cuff guide to escaping Manitoba and going on a tropical, all inclusive, beach vacation.

In order of typical total cost. Least expensive destinations to most expensive: Cost on each island will vary by resort and room category.

  • Varadero, Cuba
  • Cayo Coco, Cuba
  • Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
  • Cancun, Mexico
  • Maya Riviera, Mexico
  • Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • Los Cabos, Mexico
  • Mazatlan, Mexico
  • Ixtapa, Mexico
  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  • Montego Bay, Jamaica
  • Huatulco, Mexico
  • Nassau, Bahamas
  • Curacao
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Maarten
  • Antigua
  • Aruba
  • Belize
  • Barbados
  • Costa Rica
  • Turks n Caicos

A rough number, for a 4 star vacation, at a non-peak holiday time starts at $2000 per adult.  $1700 for your Air/Hotel package, $200 insurance, $100 gratuities & incidentals like resort fees/tourist card etc.

Peak travel is:  American Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Spring Break, University Break (2nd week of Feb)  Plan for at least $2600 or more per adult for a 4 star vacation with insurance and incidentals.

Think of package vacation travel like buying a vehicle. There is everything from the Chevy Cruise to the Cadillac available. You just have to find the model, the style and the features that suit you.  Yes, they are all just “cars” but what comforts/conveniences do you need to be happy and satisfied? Travel is the very same.

My bottom line is this:  if the decision comes down to $300 and it’s the difference between being “satisfied” and “happy” choose HAPPY. (Cut out souvenirs or new clothes for the trip to cover the cost if you need to.)

When you feel like you are settling for a car/vacation because you like the price….you will start off on the wrong foot. When you find something you are EXCITED about, you also give yourself the gift of anticipation. Every day you know you have something to look forward to, even if it is 4 months away. Dare I say the hard winter days get easier, when I have something to look forward to and dream about.