Top 10 Tips to Bag a Travel Bargain in 2018
News coming from the travelsphere may seem all doom and gloom right about now. The world is going CRAZY expensive, they say, making travel in 2018 outrageously expensive. But in the world of the travel-savvy, where there’s a will there’s always a way. Especially a cheaper way, if you catch our drift. According to Conde Nast Traveller, travellers are set to be hit with cost increases next year, with airfares and accommodation expected to rise about 3.8% in most parts of the world. But let us tell you: bagging a travel bargain in 2018 is not impossible. Especially if you set your sights on Latin America, widely revered as the most rewarding, value-for-money travel destinations in the world.
Projected increases notwithstanding, international travel is still more affordable now – and accessible by more people – than ever before. Even if airfares were to go up by a nominal amount of, say, $50, the change is likely not to be life or travel-changing for most. If hailing from Australia, you’re also in a particularly beneficial position. Global Salary Rankings puts you in the top 0.19% of the world population and although you may not be feeling all that flash as you strive to pay the mortgage, educate the kids and eat well, fact remains your travel funds will likely be much greater than almost everyone else on the planet. As figures show, more Australians are travelling now than ever before. With the exciting array of choices available and fierce competition among airlines and hotels, it is certainly a great time to plan a fantastic adventure. Although it’s safe to say that everyone has the same wish: to enjoy an unforgettable adventure in an incredible destination, without breaking the bank.
How to do that? With our nifty Top 10 Tips to Bag a Travel Bargain in 2018.
1. Go where most people aren’t
Europe and Asia remain the most popular travel destinations in the world. Not only for Australians and New Zealanders but for North Americans too. And as is common knowledge, demand is the biggest contributor to a hike in prices. If you want to have a true value-for-money journey then you’ll want to go where most people don’t. Skip the crowds and the inflated tourist traps and choose an authentic, off the well-trodden-trail destination instead. Not only will you have an arguably more rewarding experience but you’ll also spend much less. Central and South America destinations still make up the best chunk of Forbes’ list of the cheapest destinations around the world. Countries like Costa Rica, Ecuador, Belize & Guatemala, Argentina (and the list goes on) offer the discerning traveller more for their cash. Better infrastructure than Asia, smaller crowds than Europe, better quality food and accommodation than Africa and cheaper prices than almost anywhere else. If you want more, for less, you really couldn’t choose a better destination.
2. Book super early OR chance a last-minute deal
If you’re on the lookout and ready to pounce, there are some exceptional deals to be had, either as early-bird deals or, alternatively, last-minute bargains. And not just on cheap flights. Everything from hotel accommodation to tours and packages is up for grabs on a regular basis – especially in eclectic Latin America – and you’ll want to be all over those options just as soon as they’re released to the public. You can expect to save between 20% and 50% depending on the deal but do note that last-minute, by their very nature, are not usually as beneficial to you as early-bird sales. Statistically speaking, you will always save more planning way ahead rather than waiting and chancing a last-minute deal.
3. Chimu Adventures Facebook page
Because you don’t want to be the last to know about that flash-sale of Antarctica cruises that ran for only 8 hours yesterday!
Sign up to our Chimuadventures FB page and our newsletter (which you’ll find at the bottom of our homepage) to keep abreast of the latest and bestest deals on Latin America and Antarctica deals. Flash-sales are an absolute gold mine because they are mostly used as a way to promote a destination. No catches, no hidden costs, no downgrading of comfort levels. Simply a too good to be true deal on offer for the sake of organic promotion. Grab it!
Because a step head of the llama pack, when it comes to hot deals, is the only place you’ll want to be.
4. Be ready to GO!
When it comes to bagging a great travel bargain, it goes without saying that you ought to not suffer from any kind of commitment phobia. Be decisive and dive right into that deal NOW, while it’s on sale, and not in 24 hours, after you’ve mulled it over with half a dozen of your friends and the deal has come and gone. Decisiveness is half the battle won. How to do that? Well, we find that the best tactic is to decide now (or at least, when you’ve finished reading this guide) which destinations you’re interested in for your 2018 trip abroad.
Make a list, a serious one. Work out possible dates and intended inclusions. Will it be Machu Picchu for you, in 2018? Or perhaps a cruise down the Amazon? Or, maybe, 2018 will be the year you come face to face with Emperor Penguins in Antarctica? Choose the where and when now, while you’re calm and relaxed, and by the time that email pops into your inbox, or that 50% OFF Facebook post scrolls past on your newsfeed, you won’t need to waste time thinking about it. For last minute deals, of course, you’ll need to also have your getaway suitcase at the ready.
5. Be flexible with your destination
You’ve dreamt of hiking the Peruvian Andes, of running alongside llamas, towards a rainbow of orchids, sunflowers and bright sunshine. But travel to Bolivia is on sale. Oh…go on…close enough! Flexibility to bag a travel bargain doesn’t mean you need to give up your dream. It means you can save BIG to get as close to it as possible, with the intent of simply reaching YOUR desired destination once already in the continent.
Getting a foot in the door, the cheapest way possible, may well save you a bucketload of holiday-cash, especially in a continent like Latin America which offers inexpensive domestic flights and overland travel. Being flexible also means that you can always jump on some awesome deal’s bandwagon and discover a place you’ve never considered visiting before. Exploring a new and exciting destination that hasn’t been on your list – but is on sale – can be an immensely beautiful experience, one that isn’t marred by lifelong expectations and the allure of endless Instagram-posts. So get off the beaten track and – why the heck not – visit Panama! Take a chance and we guarantee that Latin America, with all her wondrous treasures, may just surprise you.
6. Want to save the most on airfare? Travel at low season
Airlines tend to play a bit of a cat and mouse game with travellers, lowering prices when they think demand to be low and leaving them fixed (and even increasing them) when they think tickets will most likely sell. The former usually occurs during ‘low travel times’, which usually means winter in cold places, the height of summer in hot ones and weeks that don’t coincide with international school holidays or celebrations like Christmas and Easter. If you want to save money on flights, research your chosen destination and find out when low-season occurs there. And do keep in mind that low-season doesn’t always mean bad season. Sometimes, low-season is splendid, a time when you’ll find attractions devoid of big crowds and accommodation heavily reduced. Sure, you may have to contend with a bit of rain, a lot of sun and – in some places – unbearable humidity – but if that’s the only time you can visit, it will be worth it. The wonderful thing about travel to Latin America is that no matter when you wish to travel, it will always be bargain-season somewhere. Just ask us!
7. Know the right time to book your flights
Generally speaking, the worst time to book a seat on a plane is a month in advance of your intended travel date. Airlines do know they have you lock, stock and barrel then, as this is the time-frame when most travellers actually book. This is when demand is at its highest, at ANY time of year. So don’t fall for this trap. Moreover, make everything low-demand and your savings will increase exponentially. Fly to South America mid-week, at some ungodly hour, and make sure your return is likewise ‘inconvenient’. Book ahead and in low-season and you could be scoring the sweetest bargain of all.
8. Mix and match accommodation styles
Usually, when travellers want to save a few pivotal dollars, they’ll be inclined to simply drop their comfort level by a few notches and ‘rough it’ for a few weeks. Yet if there is a certain comfort style you prefer, note that you need not ditch it entirely. Why not mix and match your accommodation choice? One option is to enjoy the luxury of a gorgeous hotel on days when you want to relax and more budget-conscious accommodation in destinations where you will likely do a lot more sightseeing and day-trips, coming back to the hotel only to sleep. Another popular option is to choose budget for the first 2/3rds of the trip, leaving the luxury options for the end, as a delicious reward.
Tailor-made tours to Latin America, something Chimu specialises in, are becoming ever more popular. People are finally realising that bespoke travel is not necessarily more expensive than group travel, especially when you consider your options. Did you know you can have a personalised tour which includes group visits to the major highlights only? This can save you a considerable amount of money! Share visits to the big-name highlights and do the rest on your own and you’ll enjoy the best of both worlds.
9. Hone in on up-and-coming hot spots
Just because a destination has been off your radar it doesn’t mean that it’s been off radar, period. Cuba is, undoubtedly, the hottest up-and-coming mecca in Latin America, followed closely by Colombia. Both destinations now offering a bevy of great deals simply due to their exponential increase in worldwide attention. When looking to save money, it helps to know that the best deals are not usually on offer not to THE most popular places of all (airlines and hotels figure that plenty of people will go there anyway) and to the LEAST popular places. If not many people visit a particular place, then you can bet that airfares will be substantial. So it’s that sweet middle spot you ought to look out for. Those places that are on their swift way up the popularity-ladder but haven’t quite reached the peak. As competition grows, airlines and hotels, resorts and tour operators, will be knocking elbows with each other in an attempt to draw the crowds first. Be that first.
10. Concentrate on getting more for every dollar you spend, rather than just saving a few
Sometimes, a great travel bargain means getting more for your buck. Whilst you may not always be able to score a flight or accommodation option cheaper than usual, you may be able to upgrade your travel style. As international hotel chains show interest in setting up house in Latin America, you could benefit from a win-win situation. Either you’ll bag a great value-for-money deal on a brand new hotel OR find that a normally ‘average’ local hotel be offering extra incentives for you to stay there. Many locally-owned enterprises are upping their game in Latin America, ready to compete with big-name hotels. From faster Wifi to free breakfasts or included city tours, competition seems to be bringing out the best from this corner of the world. And you, dear traveller, could be the beneficiary of this new travel revolution.
Bonus tip #11: Lock it in, Eddy. And then forget it.
For the sake of your mental well-being, we recommend you follow the above-mentioned 1-10, book your flight and tour, and then forgetting all about it until it’s time to pack your bags. Do otherwise (you know, spend 27 consecutive morning double checking flight deals on the 27th search engine you’ve found) and you could literally be driving yourself up the wall. There’s no amount of savings that could possibly be worth that kind of mental anguish. So be content knowing you’ve done your homework and you’ve scored the best-priced trip you had available to you at the time, and then, instead of double guessing yourself, start daydreaming about all the amazing experiences you’ll have.
Being in the unique position of offering a kaleidoscope of experiences, from nature-based adventures to culture-enriched tours and historical explorations, Latin America offers MORE for your hard-earned and fiercely-saved dollar. So while the rest of the world suffers from price hikes, make plans to visit Latin America, where every dollar takes you further.
Need more help choosing the right destination for your next jaunt to Latin America? We’re here to help.
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”