Cruises and all-inclusive vacations are some of the most popular types of holidays and its easy to see why. Both travel styles not only bring you to stunning tropical destinations, but also allow you to pay a flat fee for services such as accommodation, dining, and more. This makes budgeting for travel so much simpler and helps prevent overspending. These trips can be done on a shoestring budget too because there are so many ways to save money on them. From using the right discount websites to knowing when to book, here are the best money-saving tips for sun holidays.

How to save on cruises and all-inclusive vacations

  • Book early or late-minute: Prices are generally lowest when you book at least a few months out or a week in advance. Booking early gives you better options when it comes to departure dates and accommodation types, while being spontaneous at the last moment can save you up to 80% as tour operators desperately try to fill open spaces.
  • Use discount sites and travel agents: Score the lowest cruise prices on websites like Cruise Direct, Sell Off Vacations, Last Minute Cruises, Expedia, and Travelzoo. Use RedTag, itravel2000, and Flight Centre to find competitive prices for all-inclusive holidays. Travel agents are also worth speaking to because they may be able to offer secret deals and complimentary upgrades.
  • Travel during the shoulder season or off-season: The best time to go down south for an all-inclusive is after Labour Day and before Christmas. Sailing during shoulder season can save you hundreds of dollars too. September and October are considered the shoulder season for Mediterranean and European river cruises. Prices for Caribbean cruises generally dip in late summer to early fall, but keep in mind this period falls within hurricane season.
  • Go with a group: Many resorts and cruise lines such as Norwegian advertise group discounts and even reward trip organizers with a free vacation if they’re able to round up a large enough group.
  • Book your own excursions: Never book tours through the cruise or hotel because they’re always overpriced. It’s best to reserve your own excursions with a local company or through sites like Viator and Airbnb Experiences. You can also explore destinations on your own if you want to save even more money.

Best tips for cruising on a budget

  • Cruise close to home: You can minimize and even eliminate airfare costs by departing from home or a nearby city. For example, you can cruise to Alaska or Hawaii from Vancouver or take a cheap flight from Toronto to Boston and board a cruise to New England from there.
  • Pick an inside cabin: Inside cabins are the cheapest form of accommodation so book one if you’re not planning on spending a lot of time in your room.
  • Take advantage of the buffet: Have a hearty breakfast at the buffet and pack some snacks in your bag so you don’t have to dine at expensive restaurants on port days. 
  • BYOB: You may not have to spend money on expensive beverages and drink packages as some companies let you bring your own soda, juice, and wine onboard. Ask your cruise line what their beverage policy is.
  • Skip the internet package: Wi-Fi on the ship can cost almost $1 a minute so save your money and take the time to unplug instead. If you really need the internet, head to a cafe with free Wi-Fi at port.

Best budget tips for all-inclusive vacations

  • Choose a budget-friendly destination: Countries like Mexico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic have some of the most affordable all-inclusive resorts.
  • Go for a package deal: Some travellers book their flights, accommodation, and transfers separately – an expensive mistake as package deals are much cheaper than paying for things individually.
  • Look for kid-friendly perks: If you’re travelling with kids, look for a resort that lets children stay for free. Many resorts also have kids’ clubs and babysitting services at no extra cost.
  • Pack travel essentials: Staples like sunscreen, toothpaste, and over-the-counter medication cost a fortune at resort convenience stores so don’t forget to bring them.

How to grow your vacation fund

Saving money for a sun holiday can be daunting when you have a mortgage, car payments, and student loans to pay, but it’s possible if you have the right mindset. The best way to get started is by creating a savings plan and opening a dedicated travel account. If you have good credit, look into getting a travel credit card too so you can earn points for free flights and hotel stays. After that, it’s time to identify areas in your life where you can maximize profits and minimize spending. 

Here are some money-saving tips and tricks you can try:

  • Follow the 50/20/30 rule: Split up your paycheque so 50% covers necessities and 20% goes towards long-term savings goals. The remaining 30% can be used for leisure activities such as your vacation. You can simplify this process by setting up automatic transfers from your chequing account to your travel fund.
  • Get a side hustle: Teaching English online, driving for Uber, bartending, babysitting, and freelancing writing are just some ways you can generate extra income outside of your full-time job. If you don’t have time for a side gig, ask your boss for a raise or promotion if you feel you deserve one.
  • Pay with cash: If your credit card statement is always more than you anticipate, it may be wise to switch to a cash-only budgeting system like the envelope saving method
  • Lower monthly expenses: Slash your utility bill by lowering the heat, switching to energy-efficient lighting, and unplugging unused electronics. It’s also a good idea to review monthly subscriptions and eliminate as many as possible.
  • Use budgeting apps: Track your spending and monitor progress with popular budgeting apps like Mint, Wally, and You Need a Budget.
  • Stop making unnecessary purchases: To grow your travel fund, you’ll need to learn how to distinguish between needs and wants. Before you buy anything, get in the habit of asking yourself, “Do I really need this?” and walk away if the answer is no (which it will be most of the time).

Consider a vacation loan

Sometimes you don’t have enough time to pad out your vacation fund, especially if you need to make a friend’s last-minute destination wedding or family reunion cruise. If you’re close to hitting your goal and need a bit of extra cash, it may be worth getting a vacation loan so you can take that much needed holiday now. This kind of unsecured installment loan can be used to pay for a variety of travel expenses without having to put up assets as collateral. Predictable monthly payments, reasonable interest rates, and flexible repayment plans also make vacation loans a much better alternative compared to risky payday loans. The icing on the cake? Installment loans can even help you build credit if you use them responsibly. 

Go on holiday with Fresh Start Finance

Some banks offer vacation loans, but they can be almost impossible to get approved for if you have poor credit. Luckily, trusted online lenders like Fresh Start Finance say yes when the banks don’t by providing personal loans of up to $15,000 regardless of your credit situation.

Why get a vacation loan with Fresh Start Finance:

  • Cash when you need it: Funds are deposited into your bank account on the same day or within 24 hours.
  • All credit scores considered: You can get approved even if you have bad credit or no credit.
  • Flexible repayment plans: Choose a short term if you want to pay your loan off quickly or a longer one to make smaller monthly payments.
  • Competitive interest rates: Managing your vacation loan is easy thanks to reasonable interest rates.
  • Zero hidden fees: There’s no such thing as application fees or maintenance charges.
  • Skip the bank: Online applications allow you to get approved from the comfort of your home.
  • Trusted and safe lender: Check out the reviews on Trustpilot to see how Fresh Start Finance has helped Canadians across the country with their financial needs.

Take the first step towards your beach holiday by applying for a vacation loan online or over the phone at 1-888-556-6441.