Well, maybe not literally “in store,” but the retailer did launch SearsVacations.com last week. Sears’ new online service provides vacation and travel packages, including adjustable flight-hotel-car rentals combinations, resorts and cruise search.
This move from Sears certainly caught us by surprise, and we see in it both opportunity and hidden implications for you to save on summer vacations.
On the upside, Sears is introducing this new service with an opening sale: 100 vacation packages under $399, including hotel & resort packages and cruises. The sale will go on until July 31.
It’s to note that travel “packages” don’t necessarily mean all-inclusive. Most often, you will need to spend further on food and activities on site. Other expenses sometimes get overlooked and in the end add up to the total cost: spending on souvenirs, sun protection, airline fees (we have discussed how to avoid some of them), gas for rental cars and light snacks… Considering these extra costs will help you determine if a travel deal will actually save. It’s also a good idea to have a budget for miscellaneous items.
Similar to SearsVacations, other established travel websites offer vacation deals, like Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Priceline and Kayak. Browsing through other offers and cross-checking prices can help you get the best deal.
On the other hand, SearsVacations offers a feature unique from other sites: what it calls “Flexible Payment Options,” which let you finance your vacation through the layaway programs (putting your vacations on hold until they are paid off), opting for prepaid open-itinerary packages to be paid over time, or paying with Sears credit cards and gift cards.
While these options indeed provide more flexibility to afford a vacation, they also make it easier for bookers to go overboard thinking they can “just pay later.” The realistic question to ask yourself before booking is: How affordable is this, next to other financial commitments and goals? After all, it’s not worth it to have debt from a vacation.
Would you book a vacation with Sears? And in what other ways do you save on vacations?