We're always looking for ways to save a little extra money with an eye toward finding a way to afford a bonus cruise every year. In The Loop Travel knows the more you save, the more often you can travel.
To find out how much we'd need to save over the next year, I researched a seven-night cruise to the Caribbean in June 2015. I find a sailing on Carnival Glory leaving from Miami with stops in Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Honduras, and Grand Cayman -- all excellent ports full of tons of options for active fun.
The price: from $669 per person. So, that's $1,340 for the two of you. I always double that as a loose estimate for airfare, tipping, drinks, fees and taxes, plus any souvenirs and excursions you might pay for. So, how do we raise $2,700 in 12 months so you can get on that cruise? That's about $50 extra bucks a week. C'mon. You can do that! It's an especially fun challenge when you count down to that vacation.
1. Sell your junk! Ummm . . . I mean your extra treasures that you never use. We routinely evaluate items we haven't touched for a while. (Some things have sat idle for years. Gone!) Use Craigslist, Etsy, Ebay or hold a yard sale to find a new home for your extra furniture, clothes, electronics, games, housewares, etc.
2. Cut back on eating out. This is a big one. Make an effort to cook just one or two more meals at home during the week and use leftovers for lunches and you'll be amazed how quickly that adds up.
3. When you eat out, try fast casual and spots that routinely offer buy-one get-one-free specials. Also, use eateries' loyalty programs. Every 10th lunch might be free, for example. We've had great luck being picky about where we go when we decide to treat ourselves to a meal. You both drink soda? Share one instead of paying for two at restaurants that offer free refills at the machines.
4. Take advantage of an overtime shift at work. Just one shift every other month could put a lot of cash toward your goal. Plus, you can offset the doldrums of the extra work by daydreaming about why you are doing it.
5. Ask for gift cards or cash when filling out your birthday or holiday wish lists.
6. Diligently use coupons for your weekly grocery shopping.
7. Ask for onboard credit. About that upcoming birthday or other holiday. Let your family members know you wouldn't mind a gift of onboard credit on your sailing. Tell them what cruise you are taking, and they can put some money into your onboard account. What a nice gift, huh?
8. Book during the cruise line's sale period. Most lines routinely offer sales throughout the year. If you catch a good one, you might get onboard credits, drinks packages, tips included or other benefits. Monitor prices and sales because cruise lines usually honor the lowest price as long as it's not too close to your sailing date.
9. Consider using a travel agent when booking your cruise. Interview several to find the best offer. Some charge a fee and you might not consider it worth it, but some can monitor pricing very closely for you and have access to deals that allow them to offer you a nice benefit such as onboard credits, meals at for-fee onboard restaurants, etc., as an incentive for using their services.
10. Ask friends or family to join you! If you can all get along, a larger group that books several cabins is a win for the cruise line. So, you can get reduced rates. Usually, you have to book at least eight cabins to get a pricing discount.
11. Drive to your port. You can cut down that cruise budget number a lot, too, if you can cut out the flight. Do you live relatively close to a cruise port? Yes? Way to go! You can drive to your port and save on airfare. If you're close enough, you could even save on the typical night-before-the-cruise hotel stay. Maybe someone can even drop you off and pick you up at the port. Not paying for parking means more money for drinks and scuba diving.
Let me know any other frugal travel tips you have in the comments.
Thanks for reading.