Travel cheap by planning your own vacation

Planning your own travel takes more work than getting a travel agent, but it pays off in terms of lower prices and options more customized to what you want out of your travel, Hamm writes.

Toby Melville/Reuters/File
A British Airways jumbo plane flies in to land at Heathrow Airport in west London in this October 2012 file photo. The more time you spend planning a trip, the better you’ll understand what travel options are available and the better the vacation will match what you want out of it, Hamm writes.

When Sarah and I were talking about our honeymoon in 2003, we were a little intimidated by setting up our travel plans. It was the first major trip either one of us had taken where we would be responsible for all of the planning, and it seemed like a ton of confusing work.

So, we paid for a travel agency to plan our trip for us.

They did a good job, don’t get me wrong. However, we realized pretty quickly that we could have planned the entire trip ourselves with some research and effort, and we would have saved some money in the process andbeen more flexible in terms of the activities we enjoyed.

Planning your own travel takes more work, but it pays off in terms of lower prices and options more customized to what you want out of your travel. 

So, let’s roll the clock ahead. For our tenth anniversary, Sarah and I are planning a trip to Norway. Sarah’s family ancestry is heavily Norwegian, so a big reason we want to go there is to find her ancestral villages and possibly look up a few distant relatives.

We could use a travel agency to plan this trip, but instead Sarah and I have been carefully studying many different internet sites and books as we plan our trip. Almost every time we look, we find another discount or something else that’s really interesting that we want to see.

Over time, the trip is getting cheaper. Over time, the trip is getting more interesting. Over time, the trip is simply getting better.

Even more than that, planning the trip together like this has been a lot of fun. We’ve enjoyed the process of doing all of this planning together. It has caused us to spend a lot of time together working on a common goal, one that’s been fun to work on. It’s provided us with a lot of conversation and a lot of time spent together.

If you have a trip that you’d like to take, planning it yourself really isn’t that hard. There are many resources that will help you with planning your flights and planning your hotel stays and finding things to do in the area. All you have to do is start with a Google search and you’ll soon find yourself with tons of resources.

Remember, the more time you spend planning a trip, the better you’ll understand what’s available and the better the trip will match what you want out of it.

More importantly, you’ll find that it’s quite fun (especially when you plan with others) and you’ll find that it saves you some money, too.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. 

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