We can debate forever about the differences between a traveler and a tourist, but sometimes it pays to step off the snob stool and just go for the best value possible, especially on a vacation. Unless you’re on a really tight shoestring budget, often you can get a stupendous deal by trolling where the tourists go to book their trips.
Case in point: my just-finished vacation in Puerto Vallarta with my family. I could have booked us into a crappy downtown hotel with barely functioning air conditioning and cramped quarters for around $75 a night for three, nothing included, with the nearby beach choices a few blocks away being lousy. Instead I went onto SkyAuction.com and scored four nights at an all-inclusive hotel on the Nuevo Vallarta beach for $82 a night all-in. For that amount we got all the booze we could drink, all the food we wanted to stuff ourselves with (three of us!), a nice room with a panoramic ocean view, Wi-Fi, and lots of activities. (The boogie boarding rocked.)
Yes it was cheesy and yes we felt like your average package tourists, but so what? My daughter had a blast, there was a never-ending Negra Modela tap going, and we ate pretty well without ever taking my wallet out of the room safe. I would definitely do it again.
I booked an all-day tour one day with Viator because I write for their blog sometimes and was working on a story for them. The snorkeling and party boat trip was a lot of fun for the money, farmed out to the best local company, but next comes the interesting part. As I got the screen with my confirmation number when booking, car rental prices popped up and one of them was $9 a day from E-Z Rent-a-car. I thought it was a typo but figured I’d give it a shot and I booked the car. I got an e-mail voucher a couple days later and after liability insurance and taxes I paid a shade over $100 for a five-day rental of an automatic with A/C. Sweet! Cheaper than a few taxi rides in that spread-out city.
I’m back in Guanajuato now, being a local instead of a traveler or a tourist, but I’ll keep going where the deals are, no matter what label is attached.