When it comes to vacations, we all like to travel like rock stars and spend like cheap skates. Here are 7 easy tips that can help your family save hundreds on your next family vacation...
1. AVOID PEAK TRAVEL TIMES - The travel industry is all about supply and demand...it's most expensive during the most popular times to visit. Rates usually take a jump whenever the kids are out of school so avoid travel during the December Holidays, Spring Break and from June 20th till August 20th. If you travel off peak you'll also enjoy less crowds and usually find bargains on dining and shopping too. The more flexible you can be with your travel dates the better prices you'll find on flights, cruises and accommodations. Flying mid week and including a Saturday night stay can often save hundreds of dollars on airfare.
2. SHOP AIRPORTS - Be sure to compare flight prices with small local and larger regional hub airports, both for your departure and arrival airports. Sometimes driving a few miles will save you a great deal of money or offer you a much better itinerary. If good to do a google search to find the airports you'll be using. Often the airport websites list all the airlines that service that area and you may be able to find regional carriers or charter airlines the offer fantastic rates...you'll never find these sort of deals on internet travel websites like Expedia or Travelocity.
3. PACK LIGHT - Most airlines charge anywhere from $15 and more per flight for checked luggage. Additional fees are charged for oversized or heavy bags. Remember you don't need a different pair of shoes for every day of the week and yes, you can buy shampoo just about everywhere on the planet so bring only what you need and save some cash.
4. BOOK A PACKAGE DEAL - Airlines and hotels really do hate to advertise their exact prices, especially when they need to offer a sale. By offering a discounted rate for two or more travel items the consumer doesn't actually know which is cheaper, the flight or the hotel or both. And what do we care?... as long as we get a lower price, it's all good. So whether it's a fly and drive package where you get your airfare and a rental car or a complete vacation package...combining components saves money.
5. KNOW THE LATEST BUZZ - A new airline route or a newly built resort can be under the radar for many folks but can offer major savings. This is where it pays to work with a savvy travel agent who is really in the know. New resorts or newly refurbished hotels offer "soft opening" rates while they work out all the kinks and train their service staff. This is a fantastic way to get a great deal as long as you're willing to deal with possible inconveniences.
6. PLAN AHEAD - This is when you will get the best choice and the best prices. Airlines post their schedules and prices 330 days out. Cruise ships post their availability and pricing up to two years in advance. The further out you confirmat our family vacation, the better prices you'll find. If you have commitment issues planning far in advance, be sure to get cancel for any reason insurance to protect your vacation investment.
7. KNOW THE WHOLE TRUTH -Be realistic when planning your ENTIRE vacation budget. Remember food and drinks are more expensive in touristy areas, even if you plan on trying to do the cooking yourself. This is why many parents opt for family cruises or all inclusive family resorts. This way you pay on price up front and most of your meals are covered. The cruise ships offer basic beverages but sodas, specialty coffees and bar drinks cost extra. Cruises and all inclusive resort offer additional entertainment options like evening entertainment, daily fun activities and more.