I don't know about you, but I get excited when I see an ad for an amazing deal, or "unheard of prices." Like you, I have learned to beware of "unheard of deals" and "prices you won't believe," both in the world of travel and in other areas of life. I have learned, however, how to search for and find the best deals for me.
Because the truth is that the law of supply and demand pretty much says that you get what you pay for. Yes, you can search for the cheapest option out there, or a deal that is better than any of your friends got. But what are you really getting for your money? There are ways to get the most out of your travel dollar, but you need to be savvy about it. Since there are too many options to cover today, for now, I'll just talk about cruises and tours.
How do I get lower prices on cruises and tours, and what makes the prices vary so much?
First of all, decide what is important to you. This is worth spending some time on. We all (well, almost all of us) have limited time and funds, and so it is important that we have a plan to do the things that we REALLY want to do. Remember that sometimes it is better to do one big thing rather than a bunch of smaller, less meaningful things. Think about what you want and write it down. A mistake that I have made in the past is to jump on all of the "great travel deals" that I would see. After a few years of this, I realized that I had gone on a lot of trips that were VERY inexpensive/a great deal. But while I was taking all of these somewhat cool trips that were priced right, I neglected the things that I've really wanted to see and do, using up time and money that could have gone toward my bucket list items. Make sure you find the right balance for you. Some big trips, a few last minute great deals -- again, find the mix that is right for you.
The second thing that I'm going to suggest is that you find a good travel agent and develop a relationship with that travel agent (like you used to do with your banker -- remember those days?) Make sure that you gel with your agent. If you have one that you feel like doesn't work for you, speak to the owner of the agency and ask for a different agent, one that meshes better with you. Spend time with your travel agent and let them know what is important to you. Since this is what they do all day, every day, they can keep an eye out for trips and deals that are a great value for you. Something to keep in mind is that they're paid by the travel providers, so you get the same prices through a travel agent that you would online. Just because they are researching for you doesn't mean that you can't do your own research. If you've always wanted to visit Morocco, be sure and let them know that, and why you want to visit (this can help them pinpoint best times and places to stay, and possibly recommend similar experiences).
At the end of the day, remember. Travel is like other consumer items that you buy. Sure price matters, but make sure that you get what is right for you.
Photo By Bachmont - originally posted to Flickr as torraera, CC BY 2.0,