Why low cost holidays are not your friend

Wind back the clock four years and you would probably have found me sitting at my computer punching “low cost holidays” into Google. Opening every single tab eveeeerrrr.

My birthday was coming up and I had some spare annual leave… so I booked a cheap vacation. And a few months later we hopped off to Thailand, all because of cheap flights and a pay 4 stay 7 deal.

Not because that’s where we really wanted to go – but because that’s where we could afford to go.

My memories of this week in Thailand consist of good food, one great day scooting around and, most memorably, one hell of an argument with Brad.

I wasn’t having a great time – and I was pretty damn cranky at myself for it. And of course, that meant it was all Brad’s fault. You know what I’m talking about!

My first (and last) big planning failure. I had booked a crap trip.

I was restless. I was totally over sitting on the beach reading a book. And if I saw one more bloody Pina Colada..

But, I booked this trip. Shouldn’t I have thought about whether it was a good way to spend my time and money before I handed over my credit card details?

Conceptually, I understood the difference between price and value. Hey, I’ve got a commerce degree. 

But the problem was, I had caught the travel bug. It made me so desperate to travel, that I completely forgot for a moment what actually made me happy.

And, it ain’t sitting on a beach with a book – or at least, it’s not for a whole week straight.

I really don’t think I’m the only one to have fallen into this trap.

Most of us have a bucket list, or at least inklings of one. But we put it off. We tell ourselves it’s all too expensive.

We’ll wait until we get a pay rise, or there’s a special occasion.

Instead, we settle on a low cost holiday to tide us over. After all, we want to spend more time travelling, and at the end of the day it’s still travel… right?

Well, there’s two reasons I don’t think low cost holidays are your friend. At least not a true friend.

First up…

Low cost holidays cost more than you think.

Our trip to Thailand was in shoulder season, and a bargain by anyone’s standard. We got great fares, and a wicked deal on accomodation in Khao Lak.

Adding everything up (flights, accommodation, transfers, meals, a two hour cooking class, drinks, spa session) it cost us about $4,000 for the two of us. And, in case you were wondering, we were pretty frugal when we were there – that’s not a grands worth of cocktails and massages!!

If I knew upfront that this trip would have cost $4000, I probably wouldn’t have booked it.

$4000 goes a long way…

Which brings me to my next point.

Low cost holidays often hold us back from reaching for our travel dreams.

Today, I’d spend that $4000 very differently.

I’ve learnt that if I had pocketed it for an extra few months, I could have put it towards something extra special.

That dreamy trip to Italy I’d wanted to take forever, or maybe an African Safari…

Tell me, would you rather spend a few extra months saving if it meant you could finally go on that dream trip?

Unless I’ve caught you after a really crappy week at work, I’m betting you would.

I don’t have anything against Thailand – it’s a beautiful country – but fly and flop holidays are not for me. So. looking back, our trip to Thailand is one of my few travel regrets.

Deep down I knew this sort of holiday wasn’t for me, and yet I compromised because I needed to travel, and I couldn’t yet afford the things I wanted to do.

When you concentrate on money first, you push yourself into doing things that you may not love.

Today, I feel really lucky to have crossed some amazing things off my bucket list. Things that for a while I truely thought were impossible – or at least, not possible now.

So before you go booking those flights, please take the time to think about your dream trip. Maybe yours is a week chilling by the pool. But if it’s not, what do you need to do to make it happen?

Maybe you’ll have to save a little harder, wait a little longer.

But maybe it’ll be the best thing you ever do – if only you block out the shiny, flashing lights of that stupidly cheap airfare sale long enough to get there.