Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mexico vacation planning- "us" time

Never before have I blogged on vacation planning, but I've often had friends comment on our vacations wondering how I find the places I do and at the prices we get.  So for those few who might be interested keep reading to find out where I go and how I find some pretty good prices.  And yes, my new header is from our last vacation, sunset in Cozumel.

Over the years one of the things that has become very important to my husband and I is our vacation time together.  We found it to be an incredible blessing to our marriage!  This has become a priority for us.  Just last winter we were able to get away to Mexico and spend some time focusing on each other and having fun together.  Yes, it does cost money, but we feel it's so important to the health of our family that we make it a priority and save for it.  That being said, I do need to make our dollars stretch and get the most for our money.

A few thing to consider:

Fish we snorkel with in Cozumel
*I'll be focusing on planning a couples vacation specifically in Mexico, but many of the tips/sites should still apply to other locations or family venues.

*Be flexible on location if you can, that will help you make the most of your money.  For instance we like a "beach" based vacation, preferably with easy access to snorkeling, but we're open to any beach pretty much.

*Be flexible on when you go.  If you can go "off season" you'll get a much better deal.  We have found great deals in the fall and that's when we like to go.  The vacation we just booked for next fall would cost easily $1000-1500 more in January or February.  You can also get a "pocket" of good deals around May (after spring breaks but before schools let out.)  This applies to not only Mexico, but Florida, Jamaica, Dominican as well as many other "warm" vacation spots.

First thing I do is start watching the sites and reviews about 6-8 months before we want to go and have a 3-4 week "window" that I'm targeting.  I put in some possible dates on travel sites like Expedia, Hotwire, or Travelocity.  Typically, they all show almost the exact same prices.  To find the cheapest dates I got to matrix.   Matrix is not a site where you can book the flights but you can look at a calendar to see which dates have the lowest prices.

With that information you now know what are the best dates to search for your trip.  You can almost always find hotel deals, it's the airfare that doesn't come down.

Once you find the trip you want, watch it.  If you've already been watching you'll know when it's a good rate and book it.  If not every day or two plug it in and see.  If you book through a site like Expedia they will match your price even if you find it lower later so keep that in mind.  It is almost a worthless offer if you are doing a package with airfare however.  You rarely will be able to fine the "exact" flight as cheap again as when you booked.  They only offer "exact" matches.  Last year I booked our hotel separate for a portion of our trip and happened to look a few weeks later.  They honored their price guarantee by giving me the lower price AND they gave me a coupon for $50 off a future booking.
Sunset from Cozumel

Just before you book, look for a coupon codes.  Do a quick search for ________(company name) coupons.  I just booked our vacation for next year and found Travelocity coupons that saved us $210 on our total trip. 

So no, I'm not a travel agent.  Though, I'd love to do it.  I love to plan vacations.  It relaxes me.  I know, it's strange.  The kids will find me out on my deck with my laptop searching hotels and destinations and know I needed to decompress.  It's just what I do for fun.  

Questions, let me know, I'll try to help if I can.

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