After our trip to Greece I got tons of questions on how I planned my vacation. So here's how I do it!
I always book my trips to Europe as a package from europeandestinations.com. Their packages are amazing and the prices are incredible. Best part, you can pay your package in parts! I used their website for the first time in 2014 and have used it every year after that.
How it works: Choose one of the itineraries they have already created ( for Greece could be Athens-Mykonos-Santorini) or create your own based on the islands you would like to visit. The itinerary will most likely include flights, hotels, and transfers between islands. They can also help arrange excursions, and airport transfers. (For my vacation I booked my hotel in Santorini separately from my package). I simply removed the option European Destinations was giving me from my itinerary. I was still able to book the rest of my package without a problem.
Look at all the options the website is giving you in terms of the hotel, transfers, layovers, insurance, etc). Yes you have to do your homework! Know where in the island you would like to stay, the hotel's location, distance from airport, check out reviews for the hotel from different sources etc. All these details will make a difference on your experience and your pocket at some point.
Hotel in Santorini: I had my heart set on a hotel a friend had recommended. Katikies Hotel completely exceeded my expectations. We booked from Expedia months in advance and got a pretty good deal. Hotel is located right on Oia, has parking and breakfast included. We chose a standard room and got upgraded to a room with a private jacuzzi.
Tours: Remember you are an independent traveler when booking through European Destinations. You get to do as you wish once you have arrived to your destination. I like the idea of having everything planned out before traveling. I usually create a schedule and book activities & tours from home. I book all my tours, tickets to shows, excursions etc. through viator.com.
Tips to stay on budget:
1. Travel in low season. Try visiting the places right before or after peak season. It makes a huge difference on the price. If you plan to travel during high season, book during the destination's low season.
2. Plan your trip well in advance. With our anniversary in May, we choose to create new memories that month, meaning our dates are non-negotiable. I start looking 5 to 6 months in advance in order to get the best prices. By booking in advance you are guaranteed a great deal however, things could change along the way. Flights can be cancelled, or re-scheduled. Be flexible to changes along the way. In my case I had several changes to my flights, they were all handled by European Destinations. I had to pay a few dollars more but it still did not compare to the money I was already saving.
3. Know when to book your trip. Be flexible when picking your flight, traveling on a Wednesday might be cheaper than picking a flight on Friday. Don't book your vacation on Monday morning, chances are everyone else is looking for a way to scape work and prices are up. I found to get better deals booking on a Wednesday or Thursday, late at night or during holidays.
Hope this is helpful. I am not an expert by any means and this is not a sponsored post. This is just what has worked for me!
Contact me if you have any questions. I will be happy to help you plan your trip!