It’s almost that time again. Pretty soon we’ll be rolling in dmei havrah and planning our getaways. Last year around this time I discussed how to save ₪ 1000 on your next vacation. Now I’d like to discuss the flip side – how to get an extra ₪ 1000 out of your vacation.
#1 – Plan, but be flexible. I love planning trips. I enjoy going through the municipality’s website, reading blogs for ideas, building an itinerary and then googling for coupons (just type in the attraction, hotel, tzimer or resteraunt and the word “קופון” – you’ll be surprised how much you’ll find). But despite best efforts, life happens and it becomes necessary to play it by ear. Sometimes a new interest pokes its head; maybe the planned idea just isn’t working out. No matter what, the best thing is to not take it personally and be open to alternatives. Try to make a mental list of the things you want to do and set a priority. Then when you’re running late, it won’t be such a big deal to strike a less important activity from the list and enjoy your vacation. Speaking of which…
#2 – Remember what you’re buying. A vacation is a purchase like any other, only you are buying an experience, not a thing. And it is very important to remember this. Getting frustrated and yelling can ruin an otherwise wonderful trip. On the other hand, letting little things go and planning time to relax can pay off immensely. Last year, I woke up and found a long line of ants in the bathroom of our tzimmer, leading up the area where my wife and I left our toothbrushes. I could have freaked out, called a manager and probably have even debated a discount on the room at that point. But at what cost? My wife would be freaked out and have horrible memories of what should be a wonderful vacation, just because of a few ants. So I took some tissues, spent a minute cleaning up the ants and, on our way out for the day’s activities, I kindly explained the situation to the woman in charge and asked her to spray while we were out. When we got back, the room was spotless, the bathroom was fixed up and the woman in charge went out of her way to help us in any way possible for the remainder of the trip (the managers are used to people freaking over small things like this, they appreciate people who are a bit more understanding.)
#3 – Take pictures – People need tangible objects to appreciate the intangible. This is why beauty parlors leave out beauty magazines in their shops and other service providers give out small trinkets to remember them by. And now that we live in the age of digital pictures, taking pictures is a one time expense with no marginal cost per picture (or roll of film). So take a bunch of pictures and spend some time after the trip to go over the pictures and take in and appreciate what you saw and did.
#4 – Save marginally – You can still stretch a dollar on a trip. Last year, as I was getting ready to order a cab from Zichron Yaakov to Binyamina and later Ramat HaNadiv, my wife decided to text Egged and see if there was a bus that could take us instead. She found a bus that took us to exactly where we needed to go, within ten minutes. Over the course of the trip, her tactics saved us about ₪ 250.
#5 – Spend marginally – At the end of one of our trips my wife and I were expecting to go horseback riding with what we though was going to be a few couples at a ranch by Netanya. Unfortunately, when we arrived, it turned out we would be riding with a large group of around 30 rowdy teenage guys. Marginally, I had the option of our payment by ₪ 150 for a private tour with just the instructor, my wife and myself. Considering (1) my wife just saved us a ton so money by avoiding the cabs and much more importantly (2) the current situation would have been a horrible experience for my wife and would have been a waste of the money we were already paying, I gave the rancher the extra money and my wife and I had a wonderful time.
#6 – Take advantages of your surroundings and make your own activities – Try to find those spots that are not “anytown” Israel and make due with the local flavor. The last time my family visited, we made a picnic in the Old City of Tzfat with some local cheese (we finally found it!), olives, and grape leaves. And really, is there any meal more Tzfaty?
Have a great vacation season.
By the way, if you’re looking for some ideas of what do in Israel this is a map I made of places I have been (in blue) and places I want to go to (in yellow). I left out Jerusalem because simply put, Jerusalem has too much to offer and cannot fit on a simple map.
Please feel free to add to the map if you like. Also, if you have any questions or want any recommendations on where I have been, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org