When planning your next big trip, an essential thing to figure out is whether to arrange your own travel method, accommodation, and itinerary, or use a tour operator’s travel package. Many tourists, particularly younger ones, prefer to organize their own trips, and the appeal of that is evident: it can often help you save money while providing the freedom to travel about as you please.
Nonetheless, lots of people, particularly first-time visitors to a foreign destination, prefer to use tour operators out of convenience. Not only does this allow them to unload the paperwork and research onto the tour operator, but it also provides some assurance that no time will be wasted once they’re on their trip.
Here is some advice to take into account if you want to avoid extra costs when purchasing excursions with local tour operators.
Many tour operators include some sort of dining options in their travel packages, especially if the hotels they have on offer do not include breakfast, lunch or dinner options in their room fee. That is where fixed dining packages provided by tour operators can bundle several for-fee restaurants for a reduced rate, while others offer breakfast or lunch at specialty venues for a lower price as well.
The above options are fine, but extra costs can be hidden in things like room service. This is an obvious one, but some tour operators fail to mention that room service (and whatever is found in your mini fridge in your room) is not included in your tour package. Luckily, with the exception of early morning hours, food is normally available virtually everywhere around the clock in various restaurants in any touristy area, so you can simply skip room service and take your pick according to your budget.
Although tour operators normally get decent price deals when it comes to hotels and other kinds of lodging, the selection of available accommodation might be limited and include add-ons such as laundry services, extra beds or even extra space to store your luggage. Additionally, those who like to go it alone on their travels might find it more expensive to book a single room through a tour operator.
However, a good tour operator should be flexible regarding the services you wish to remove from their premade travel packages, and that should include accommodation options. Did you research hotel options and find something more affordable for yourself, but still wish to join in on other activities your tour operator could provide? Ask them to deduct the cost of accommodation from the travel package and, of course, check out competitors to see who can give you the best offer regarding this.
Laundry and dry-cleaning fees can go as high as $3 to $7 for washing and pressing a garment. If these services are included in your accommodation cost, it is best to ask the tour operator to remove them and then check if a self-service laundromat is available in the area so you could use that instead.
If you’re really driven to save up, there are two other choices here as well: either pack enough clothing for the trip and do the laundry when you get home, or carry your own travel-sized detergent, wash basics in your bathroom sink, and hang-dry them in the shower!
Whether you’re going for kayak tours or on-land resorts, many tour operators have deals with souvenir shops, and at least one stop in your itinerary might be reserved for visiting them as a miscellaneous activity. Some people like that, others don’t — but the point is that this can be budget-busting for many tourists looking to stay frugal on excursions.
Luckily, you are not obliged to buy anything at a souvenir shop, even if you do end up spending half an hour there. Simply browsing the items the stores have on offer and catching a breath is fine; alternatively, you can take a break at a nearby cafe and spend the same amount of money on a refreshing beverage instead.
A tour package, especially for younger groups of people, might include several nightclub outings per trip. These usually peg themselves as all-inclusive, which typically entails the first drink of the evening only, or all locally produced drinks — but the catch is that the clubs usually “run out” of the free options, making you purchase marked-up alcoholic beverages all night long.
For a good and thrifty time, you can always opt out of a few of those nightly outings, or simply have a few drinks at a bar before going to the club if you feel the need to. Again, if you don’t plan on joining in on any of these outings, research other tour package options before booking your trip.