I’m going, to be honest, my family could really use a “real” vacation, however, our summers plans are usually centered around Emma and if she has to have surgery. And finances also play a major role! Darrick and I haven’t been on a BIG vacation in some years, but hopefully, we can change that soon. Since we both work outside of the home fulltime, we make it a point to take small trips to surrounding cities. A vacation can be what you make it, it can be far, or near. In my opinion, as much as I would love to have that BIG vacation I love just being away from the hustle and bustle of work and enjoying time with my family.
Ultimately, vacations are supposed to be fun. If you are feeling the financial crunch you may be concerned that you will have to cut back on your vacation or at the very least to cut back on the fun things that you are planning to do. Relax, there are many things that you can do to be sure that your travel is fun filled and you are still able to cut the travel costs.
Internet is your BEST resource!
The Internet is a great tool to help you to cut your travel costs. It allows you to compare prices. You can do everything from booking a vacation home to arranging a house swap on the web. There are many planning tools out there, be prepared to use them to find the best deals. You can also use the internet to plan ahead, with meals and tours, these are items that can be booked ahead of time so you have one less thing to worry about. You just show up and your meal is paid for!
These books offer discounts on flights, hotels, cruises and rental cars. They also offer 2 for one meal and entrances to attractions and shows. All of these can add up to a lot of savings. Using the book just one time will usually cover the cost of the book. Most books cost under $40.
CVB or Tourist Board
Check the Internet for the local CVB (Convention and Visitor Board) or tourist board website at or near the location that you are planning to visit. They often have coupons and discounts that you can print out. These are a great way to cut the cost of your travel. They will also have suggestions for free things to do.
If you are flying to your destination, you can use sites like Mobissimo or Kayak to help you find the perfect flight for you. There are some airlines that are not covered on these comparison sites so you will need to look at them separately to find out if they are offering better rates. Always check the airline’s own website, there are times when the airlines offer specials that you won’t find anywhere else. Always sign up to receive emails telling you of any specials the airlines may be offering.
Most hotels offer discounts, it can be AAA, AARP or corporate. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. Especially if the hotel is not too busy, they may be willing to offer free breakfast, parking or some other perk. Check several different websites for rates, there are times when one or another may have a special discount. Check out websites like booking.com and hotels.com for discounts not advertised anywhere else. Choose a hotel that offers free breakfast, this can save lots of money especially for families.
Bed and Breakfast
Bed and breakfasts do offer specials. Some are offering 3 nights for the cost of two, discounts for business travelers and also AAA or senior discounts. Always ask, it can’t hurt and it may save you a substantial amount of money. The fact that breakfast and often an afternoon snack are included is a big savings by itself.
Buy a Package
Check on sites such as Expedia, Orbitz or Travelocity for a package deal. When you combine air, hotels and rental cars you can save money. Even Disney offers combination packages.
General tips for saving money
One of the best tips for saving money is to travel the offseason. Prices will be lower and the fun is still there. If you want to ski then, of course, you will need to travel in the winter and if you want to enjoy the beach in the Northeast, it will need to be the summer. You may then want to rent a condo or house instead of staying at a resort or in a hotel. This allows you to cook some of your meals, which is a big saving especially if you are staying for a week.
Share the costs
If you really need to save on the cost of your trip, consider getting together with family or friends and sharing a vacation. The cost of a rental house or condo can be split and that is a big saving.
Stay close to home
When you travel, the cost of getting to your destination can really put a big hole in your travel budget. One way around this is to choose a destination that is within an easy drive of your home. If may only cost $100 to drive back and forth to a destination 500 miles away for a family of five. If you have to fly to that destination it could cost over $1000. You can have a lot of fun with the $900 you are going to save.
Having fun on your vacation does not depend on the amount of money you spend. It depends on the people you are with and the place that you choose. Have a plan and know what you can do for little or no money. There are many tools available to you, use them all.
Darrick and I have learned with the current ages of our children, as long as we have a few fun activities planned; swimming, going to a zoo, going to a children’s museum, movies, bowling, waterpark, bowling, regular park, sporting event or going to a splash pad…as long as they can run free for a while we are considered the BEST parents ever and they’re happy!