separates vs. packages– and the winner is?

Along time ago I figured out that travel keeps me sane. The excitement of looking forward to our next adventure makes my mundane days do-able. I frequently came home from a fantastic outing only to find myself down and lonely, rather than rejuvenated. It was awful. So for the last few years, D and I have made it our priority to see the world and schedule our trips in advance as much as possible. I always try to have at least 2 in the books as I’m returning from one– basically, always something to look forward to.

I’ve found that this takes up a lot of our expendable cash, however, I prefer it that way. It’s so easy to go out to dinner or have some drinks and spend $200. Do you know where I can fly for that? After the dinner, I’m left feeling full and broke. I’d rather go somewhere instead. So that is what we do.

As always, I’m looking for ways to go to great locales on as little as possible (that way we can enjoy ourselves every once in a while at home, too). I have a friend who has great success in booking trips as a package deal– many travel websites even claim that if you book together, you’ll save. I’ve personally never found that to be true, so today, I’m pricing everything out individually as well as together through different websites. Let’s see how we it all came out:

Separate:

Direct flight on Continental from Bush Airport(IAH) to Las Vegas, departing 11/24 thru 11/28:

$397.90 per person x 2= $795.80

1 Room at The Cosmopolitan Hotel, City Room for 4 nights:

$884.80 including tax and fees

Total for 2 people: $1680.60 or $840.30 per person (not including a rental car)

Package through Continental:

Same flights and times as above, IAH > LAS on 11/24 thru 11/28, 4 nights in The Cosmopolitan City Room AND 1 4 door rental car for 4 days: $1496.47 or $748.24 per person

* This is an immediate savings of almost $100 per person AND you get a free rental car.

Package through Travelocity:

Same flights and times as above on Continental, IAH > LAS on 11/24 thru 11/28, 4 nights in The Cosmopolitan City Room AND 1 4-door rental car for 4 days: $1543.96 or $771.98 per person

*But, and it’s a giant but if you ask me– while trying to book this trip, I made it to the final stages and Travelocity shows a message and suddenly tells me that the package price has changed because of airfare.

Umm. Liar. The package CHANGED because you tried to sneak in “Travel Protection” AND RT transfers from the airport when I’m already getting a rental car. Caught ya. 

Moral of the story, CAREFULLY PAY ATTENTION to what you’re paying for.

Package from The Cattle Car (Southwest):

This is purely to prove a point.

Similar flight times to Continental, HOU>LAS 11/24 thru 11/28, 1 City View Room at The Cosmopolitan, and a rental car (but excluding car taxes):$1514.56 or $757.28 per person

 

So here’s how we did

Continental, rental car and The Cosmopolitan Hotel all separate: The most expensive by far.

In 3rd place: Travelocity package at $1543.96

In 2nd place: The “cheap” Cattle Car, Southwest at $1514.56 (although it doesn’t include car tax)

And in 1st place: Continental.com Vacations at $1496.47 for everything

So, I’ll be booking through COvacations.com AND I’ll even get extra OnePass miles for it! I’m glad to finally see the totals come in and who the winner is. Also, many vacation package websites offer you the option of making a deposit and then pay in full by a specified date.

Overall, many people have pre-conceived notions as to which is the best way to book, and which airline is cheapest. All I can say, is not necessarily my friend. But seriously, pay attention to what you’re booking. Travelocity tried to be sneaky and I’m sure they get many people that way. Southwest was upfront and said the car rental doesn’t include tax. That’s great they let you know, but it could end up costing you a lot of extra money when you get there.

Always know that the saying “good deal” is a relative term at best. As long as you feel that what you’re getting is worth what you’re paying, you’ve got yourself a great deal!

Have you had any experiences with booking packages vs. seperates? What’s your favorite way? Let me know… I’m really curious this time.

Until then, Happy Travels!

PS- Why am I so insistent upon staying at The NEW Cosmopolitan Hotel in Vegas? Well this is why (photos courtesy of their website and the Vegas blog with a photo tour of the hotel. Check it out Here.):

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8 thoughts on “separates vs. packages– and the winner is?

  1. What a great post!! I’ve always thought booking everything separately was a better deal. Guess I was wrong :)

    • Not yet, but I’m going to! I was dying to stay there last year but it wasn’t open yet. The pictures on tripadvisor.com are amazing.

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