Spring Break on a dime: Tips for saving on family vacations
Wednesday, 2 October 2019
Spring and summer will be here before you know it.
And while filling up your gas tank is much easier on your wallet these days, other costs of family travel can quickly add up. Here are some tips for saving money on your next family vacation:
Fly on non-peak days. You can often save a bundle if you avoid traveling on the first and last days of the typical spring break week. Even after spring break, being flexible about when you fly can significantly reduce the cost of your tickets.
Check out different airports, and try comparing fares to see if you could save by traveling from an airport in a nearby city. For example, if you live in Birmingham, Ala., you could possibly get cheaper fares flying out of Atlanta. You'll need to run the numbers to see if it's worth the extra driving.
Also, avoid resort airports. You could save on your next ski trip if you opt to fly into a larger metropolitan airport instead a smaller airport closer to your destination. In most cases, it costs more to fly into smaller airports and to make multiple stops to reach your destination.
Think about renting an extended-stay hotel, apartment, or suite. Extended-stay hotels frequently offer extra space and often come with amenities like Wi-Fi. These places typically have kitchen facilities, allowing you to eat in and skip some pricey restaurant meals.
Look for hotels that cater to families. Family-friendly hotels can offer families everything from free breakfast to free toys and games. They also typically offer more spacious accommodations and family-related supplies like cribs. You can also check out rent-by-owner options, like Airbnb. These are especially popular in beach and resort destinations, and rates can be significantly lower than hotels in the area.
Consider all-inclusive vacations. While these might not have the lowest price tag up-front, they could end up saving you money in the long run. Plus you'll know exactly what you're spending before you travel, reducing the possibility of budget-busting surprises.
Be on the lookout for "kids eat free" offers. Imagine how much you'll save if your kids could eat one or two free meals a day at your hotel. Food costs can really add up on family vacations and free hotel meals are a great way to save. Also, go online to look for special offers and coupons for restaurants in the city or resort you're traveling to before you go. When you do eat out, make lunch the big meal of the day. It's typically cheaper than dinner at most restaurants.
Also, be sure to eat before you play. Food at amusement parks and other attractions can be incredibly expensive—and often unhealthy. Check before you go to see if the park allows you to bring in your own food. If they do not, feed the family before you go so the kids won't be begging for pricey snacks.
Check out multiday passes and package deals. Some amusement parks and attractions offer multiday passes and special package deals that can save you money. You could also save by purchasing passes in advance or online. If you plan on making multiple trips to the same park during your vacation, sometimes purchasing a season pass can be cheaper than paying for individual day tickets.
Find discounts and deals for attractions. Purchase a local entertainment coupon book for your destination and scour the Internet for discounts and coupons. Also, check to see if your hotel offers discounts to local attractions. Even better, look for things to do that are completely free. Search online before you go for free attractions, museums, festivals, and other activities in the city you'll be visiting.
And don't forget about reciprocity, which are discounts on admission to families with memberships to similar attractions in their home cities. Many children's museums, zoos, and other attractions offer great reciprocity offers. You can find more information about reciprocity at children's museums at childrensmuseums.org, and zoos at aza.org.
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