10 Tips for Getting Away with Great Family Travel Deals

Steve and I have been trying to decide whether or not to take a vacation this year. We have been on the fence about whether or not to take Ryan. We ultimately decided that we would go without Ryan for this trip, taking a 4-7 day trip, because pretty soon we’ll want him to go with us on all of our vacations. The fact that Steve lost his job has now made it so we really have to save money now if we want to go on any vacation at all. Now, more so than ever, we are only looking to take a vacation if we get the best deal possible.

Tip #1: Plan as much as you can ahead of time. If you know what restaurants you want to eat out at, see if they have coupons available from the various restaurant sites on the internet (this can save you 50-80% on your dining out bills and you can still have some pretty nice cuisine). If you know what sightseeing trips you will be participating in, you can get coupons or pay reduced rates by purchasing admission ahead of time.

Tip #2: Contact local travel agencies (if available) and let them know what you’re thinking. There is a place around the block from us and we have met with a travel agent and let them know what we’re looking for in a vacation and what rates we would be willing to pay. In almost all situations you are going to be able to find a better deal on the internet, but occasionally there are large group deals that can be taken advantage of with. Ex: a large group going to Hawaii from our city: we can get reduced rates on bus fair to the airport, airfare to Hawaii and hotel stays as long as we align our travel plans with theirs. If you’re not too picky this is always a great option.

Tip #3: Subscribe to every single travel deal website and get all new travel deals as alerts in your email. Steve and I keep an open mind about our vacations. If the deal is good enough, we’ll travel just about anywhere. Another positive is that some travel deals come with extra bonuses: get 3 other couples to sign up and get your trip for free or free rental car!

Tip #4: HAGGLE, HAGGLE, HAGGLE. Ok, I admit it…I’m married to a haggler. Steve is never ashamed to bargain with anyone for any amount of money. Sure, it gets embarrassing at times, but Steve can almost always get a reduced rate when he puts in the research and wins an argument. Ex: call hotels in the area where you are staying, check their rates and use them as bargaining tools to end up staying exactly where you want to.

Tip #5: When you get there, find a grocery store. Steve and I love to treat ourselves to a nice meal, but definitely feel it’s unnecessary to eat out 3 meals a day on vacation. If you have access to a fridge, buy some cereal, milk and a few sandwiches. You’ll save money and save your gut as eating out for 3 meals a day would probably give you a stomach ache.

Tip #6: If possible, go all-inclusive. This has always been the best money saving option for us. Sometimes fantastically low rates are just a trap to get you to a resort where everything is outrageously priced and you have no choice but to pay. In some places even the grocery stores have 500-1000% markups.

Tip #7: If you can do the research and can avoid renting a car, do it. Rental cars can account for a pretty hefty portion of your travel budget.

Tip #8: If you must go with a rental car, then look to stay a little further from your activities at a reduced rate. Odds are, wherever you want to be is where everyone else wants to be. Higher demand = higher hotel rates. The longer drive will be scenic and part of your vacation (just don’t get lost!).

Tip #9: Drive if you can handle it. It’s going to be cheaper to drive almost anywhere you’re going, especially for a family. If you can somehow plan a good route, have enough time off to relax at your destination to split the drive up going there and back and have a comfortable enough ride, then this will save you a lot of money.

Tip #10: Go during the offseason. Don’t go to Cancun during the weeks of Spring Break. Rates will be higher and for a family that would probably not be the best situation.

Remember to haggle (Steve keeps saying, I never should have told him about this post!) and if you are open to your destination and time of year you can find some pretty amazing deals on travel!

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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