Yes, you can stay within your vacation budget and have fun! These money-saving travel tips help make it possible.
Early bookings typically offer you the best travel prices, especially if you’re traveling during peak periods. The Internet makes travel research, planning and price comparisons a breeze. Get online and find the best deals. In fact, get everyone involved — hold a family contest and reward the person who finds the best destination information, deals or freebies. Check your credit card’s perks, promotions and travel-protection benefits, too.
Save on travel expenses during the planning stage, and you’ll have more “fun” money once you get there. Cross-check fares on airline websites and online travel agencies. If your itinerary allows, play with different departure and arrival days and times — flying during off-peak hours generally costs less. Check neighboring cities and alternative metropolitan airports. They may offer lower fares. Also, enroll each family member in the airline’s frequent-flyer program. You’ll earn points toward future travel or merchandise.
Of course, flying isn’t the only travel option. Compare airline fares against train rates. Trains have an added bonus: scenic views as you roll across the miles.
Would you rather take to the waters? Select a departing cruise port within driving distance from your home. If you’re driving, gas up the day before and hit the road early before traffic builds up. Consult map websites — some show you the best fuel prices along your travel route.
Eating on the road can hurt your budget. Pack a picnic-style lunch or snacks — it will help save you money and help keep you eating healthy while you travel.
Save on Stays
Compare hotel prices online or with a travel agent. There are several websites that search and compare popular hotel chains for you. Hotels near major attractions and in city centers usually cost more, so stay a few miles away. Lodging amenities such as free breakfast, free Internet, free parking, “kids stay free” and other complimentary kids’ programs help you save, too. Membership, corporate, military and first-responder discounts add even more savings.
All-inclusive resorts and cruise ships include lodging, meals and entertainment in one set price. This can help you budget more easily. Do you need multiple hotel rooms? Rent a condo or vacation home, and enjoy two added benefits: more privacy and a kitchen to prepare meals in-house, reducing your dining-out tabs.
Entertaining and Eating Budget
Once you arrive at your destination, head to the city’s visitors’ center or chamber of commerce. You’ll find local promotions, such as discount coupons, free attraction information and more. Some major cities also offer “go cards” or “city passes,” which offer a 30- to 50-percent savings on entertainment, dining and shopping prices. Lastly, scan local newspapers or free brochures for additional discounts, special events or activity ideas.
Play Tourist in Town
Can’t afford a family vacation this year? Play a tourist in your own town, and plan a “staycation.” Find your local visitors’ center and look for deals just like out-of-towners do. Visit nearby attractions or picnic at the closest state or city park. Also, enjoy local freebies like concerts, craft classes, festivals and outdoor-park movies.