It’s the beginning of a new year (2016!). Time to make New Year’s resolutions. Like many people’s resolutions mine include working out, eating healthy, and seeing three new countries. Since I just booked my trip to Prague, Budapest, and Vienna, I consider one of those resolutions to be in full swing.
I did a lot of research to find flights, hotels, and still keep things under my $2000 budget. After quite a few days of research, I found that the most affordable option was to use a travel agency in order to get a bulk deal. My package ended up including one flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Prague, a train from Prague to Vienna, a train Vienna to Budapest, a flight from Budapest to Phoenix, Arizona, and bed and breakfasts for 9 nights during the span of the trip for a grand total of $1280.
One aspect that made my package cheaper was that my sister will be traveling through Europe at the same time, so she was added onto the hotels and trains. Her total package came to $440 for land only. Thus making both our trips less than it would have cost me in just flights to do this trip without an agency.
This was the first time I had seen a tour company still discount a single flight package if one person was land only. Which goes to show that if you ask, anything is possible!
The site I originally found this deal through was Travelzoo. If you have never heard of it, be sure to put in your email so you are notified of the Top 20 Deals. It was in the Top 20 Deals that I found Tripmaster’s package deal to Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. Many of the offers on the Top 20 Deals tend to be vacation tours, which is not what I wanted.
When I began to research Tripmasters and found that it was a company that offers customized vacation packages (similar service to Priceline deals, like you see when you book a flight and then they offer a hotel package at a discounted rate), I knew they were going to be able to get better rates then I could. This is a great service for places where you are looking to stay in nice hotels at a discounted rate.
Be sure to look up reviews on the hotels before you book. When you book your package you can upgrade hotels in the case that the hotel doesn’t meet your needs. I ended up upgrading one of our hotels so it would also include breakfast. All the hotels we ended up with had awesome reviews about location and their breakfast, which were our two requirements.
As you plan your travel this year be sure to do three things:
1. Research, research, research.
This is key. Sometimes changing your dates by day can save you hundreds of dollars. Research also allows you to read other people’s reviews and find out what fits your needs best.
2. Look for package deals.
Sites like Travelzoo and Tripmasters are great places to start looking for some package deals on great vacations. Often times a travel agency or tour company has bulk deals that you could not book on your own. So use their connections to your advantage.
3. Go somewhere out of season.
Prague, Vienna, and Budapest might still be cold when I go in March, but I live in Arizona so some cold can be nice. Going just two months off of the busy Europe summer season saved me thousands of dollars. I often also travel during what’s considered to be the “rainy” season to SE Asia. It’s the perfect time to get cheap flights and the rainy season consists of a few afternoon showers in between completely sunny days.
Happy traveling! May 2016 be filled with sunsets in foreign places with people you have yet to meet!