By Daniela Harrison
If you’ve caught the travel bug, there’s nothing worse than sitting idle at home. You know the feeling: You get restless, start reading travel magazines and surfing vacation photos of friends and relatives, until finally you crack and you start researching your next adventure.
You, my friend, are a travel addict. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!
While most people aim for one-to-two-week vacation time, many of them are missing out on the benefits of extended trips. Let’s have a closer look.
First off, an extended stay can actually save lots of your hard-earned money. Consider this: While a week-long Mediterranean cruise might cost you $350/day, a 16- or 30-day cruise could cost even less on a per-day basis, with huge savings in flight cost, complimentary amenities, combination discounts, upgrades and more.
A cruise is a great model to demonstrate the benefits of extended travel. A 30-day cruise itinerary usually consists of four separate itineraries sailed back-to-back, meaning new people come on board every week while some stay on for the next itinerary. By being one of the people who stays on for everything, you can combine maximum savings and discounts with the highest amenity level, and cover more ground in destinations.
Let me break this down further, using a premium cruise as an example:
Instead of four separate flights from the U.S. to Europe (if you were taking separate trips), you now only need to pay for one. Round-trip economy flights to Europe run roughly $1,500 per flight – which already is a huge savings.
Many cruise lines will offer discounts for combining multiple segments into one trip. It saves on paperwork and ensures all cabins are sold. And generally these discounts are combinable with other specials.
On top of that, many back-to-back cruises easily qualify for cabin upgrades. Book into a balcony and you can have a high chance of an upgrade to a mini-suite. This can save thousands on a 20- or 30-day cruise.
You can also qualify for extra amenities such as prepaid gratuities, extra shipboard credit, maybe a selection of free shore excursions, free specialty dining or beverage packages. Some luxury cruise lines even include complimentary pre- and/or post-cruise nights, or they may pay for your flight.
Combining all of these offers and promotions just saved you a small fortune.
While the initial cost of the trip is higher, once we break it down, our per-diem cost didn’t actually go up – and in fact, we’re saving on so many other components we can easily pay for our trip and maybe even a friend to join us.
But money isn’t the only benefit of an extended trip. You actually get to spend more time in the destination and get a more immersive experience. You might even be able to learn the language and form new friendships.
You’ll have time to get to know the employees on board, and in turn they’ll get to know you and will be better able to serve you. On a cruise, you usually get caught in a vicious cycle of wanting to relax and enjoy the ship, but also wanting to visit each and every port of call. Extended itineraries usually offer more sea days and promote a more relaxed approach to sightseeing. It’s your vacation, after all.
The best savings and amenities are usually offered on world cruises. These itineraries are 100-180 days long and circumnavigate the globe. Most cruise lines will happily include your business-class flights, gratuities, laundry services, shore excursions, cabin upgrades, shipboard credit, VIP dinners, private on-shore events and more into your sailing. While the initial cost is high, you can save tens of thousands on what truly is a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
And let me be clear: This is not only true for cruises. Private jet adventures follow the same model. You circumnavigate the globe by jet, which combines multiple shorter itineraries into one 25-35-day trip. If you don’t have enough vacation days to spend six months onboard a ship, jets are a really good alternative. They cost a bit more, but they’re also a much more intimate experience, with only 60 guests rather than a few hundred on a cruise.
Many hotels will offer extended-stay pricing, so you can enjoy all the amenities the hotel has to offer while discovering the destination at your own pace.
One thing to watch carefully: Travel-insurance policies will let you cover as much travel time as you need, no matter if it’s one day or 180 days. However, many policies have a rate change if you travel for more than 30 days. When purchasing your policy, make sure to review all options and ask your travel consultant for extended stay insurance policy options.
Not sure if an extended trip is for you? Start off slowly; try traveling for two weeks instead of one and see how it goes. You can slowly increase your travel days until you reach a comfortable level.
Keep in mind that many travel companies give past guest discounts, so booking with the same travel corporation can be beneficial as you’re testing the waters on frequency and length of travel. Your travel consultant can advise you of special discounts and past guest rates, and will be your advocate for cabin/room upgrades and extra amenities.
Also ask about luggage and laundry services while traveling. There are many different options, and your travel consultant can help you find just the right solutions.
Don’t let your hard-earned vacation days go to waste. Talk to your trusted travel consultant today and see how an extended stay can benefit you.
Daniela Harrison is a Travel Consultant for Avenues of the World Travel in Flagstaff. For questions, or to make reservations, contact her at Daniela@avenuesoftheworld.com or 928.556.0853.