I've been traveling the world almost my whole life, and I would describe myself as having a nomadic soul. Sadly, my difficulty with complacency can come with a scary price tag. Flights, hotels, phones, food, cab fare and shopping are some of many things you'll probably be spending big bucks on during your travels. My mom has always been a budget traveler and has always given us better experiences than mainstream travel for half the cost. Recently, my mom and I decided to go on a cruise to Mexico. Our 5 day, 4 night cruise stopped in Catalina Island, Cali. and Ensenada, Mexico on the Carnival Imagination. Cruises may seem like they're lavish and expensive, but that's not the case. Here's how I save money traveling!
"Time is money, money is power, power is pizza, and pizza is knowledge." -April Ludgate (Parks and Recreation) Spend a Little To Save a Lot of Time: Time really is money! Most major cruise lines offer skip the line programs, so you can drop your bags first, be on the ship first, have your room ready faster, tender first, and cut lines for things like guest services. For the Faster to the Fun program on carnival, it's only $50 for the cabin and comes in handy through the whole trip.
BYOB: Check your cruise line for their policy, but most cruise lines allow specific alcohols in specific amounts on board. From what I've read, Disney Cruise Lines actually have the loosest policy (surprising!) You can bring 2 unopened bottles of wine or 6 unopened beer cans in your carry on.
If you're feeling brave, you can find websites and products devoted to sneaking booze on board! I'm not condoning this, but here's where you can find some.
Duty Free: Being on the ship in international waters gives you the opportunity to do some duty free shopping! I thought that it would mostly be lame trinkets and overpriced memorabilia, but the Carnival fun shops had great deals on brand clothing, alcohol in large amounts and fine jewelry and accessories. I bought a brand name wallet for $20 and a really cute Roxy swimsuit cover for $10. If you want the ultimate deal, wait until the last day!
BYOE = Book Your Own Excursions: Don't go through the cruise line and book an overpriced excursion that will cram you shoulder to shoulder with other cruisers. Do your research on TripAdvisor before you go! On my cruise excursion in Ensenada, instead of booking the horse riding tour through the ship, we found this small business owned by an American couple. It was just us and the people that we ate dinner with every night on the ship. We had a 2-hour horse ride up cliffs and through trees for $30 per person--if we had gone through the ship it would have been $80 for a more crowded, less adventurous tour.
Book off season: With this you can risk storm season, so be careful! I booked my cruise for the end of February and the weather ended up being beautiful the whole time! Booking off season can save you a lot for the cruise itself, the airfare if you don't live near a port and whatever excursions you might choose.
Don't Gamble: Cruise lines make a fortune off of the casino. That's one of their main sources of revenue! Lucky for me, I suck at gambling and I don't know how to do it!
Cruise!: With a cruise, your food is included, obviously where you sleep is included and there are so many entertainment options! It can be a bit cookie cutter at times, but that's part of the appeal for me. I love the bingo and the live entertainment can be very talented (I spent every night at the piano bar!). They price cruises pretty inexpensively to get you on board so you'll pay for the excursions, the booze and the gambling. Be smart about this fact, and you'll save big time.
If you follow my tips, cruising is actually a super cheap and stress-free way to travel!