The older I get the more I am realizing how important family vacations are to reconnecting with our families.
We are always running in so many various directions during the year that we all need some relaxing time to let loose and have some fun.
And while that sounds great in theory, it can be horrible for our finances if we aren’t careful, especially when it comes to taking summer vacations.
In order to get the most FUN at the least cost, without sacrificing any luxuries, I’ve got solid ways you can save money on the four most important things related to travel; getting there, meals, lodging, and fun experiences while you are there.
Watch the replay of this mornings Fox Segment here:
1. Save On Getting There
The first thing you start to worry about when planning a getaway is the cost to physically travel to get there, right?!
We sign up and use the Shell Fuel Rewards network in order to earn fuel rewards by shopping at Grocery stores (every other month) and restaurants. Then, we also always choose a Shell Gas Gift Card when Publix offers their Weekend $10 Off Coupon.
If you are planning to fly when you travel, then I have bad news… the best time to book travel is several months in advance. However, you have a chance to still score a good price on a flight by using Google Flights or SkyScanner to compare the costs across the country. You could also score a great deal by following your favorite airlines on Twitter.
I would also sign up for these three websites: The Flight Deal, Airfare Watchdog, and Secret Flying. They can find mistake airfares and low-cost flights and by subscribing you’ll be first to hear about the deals and price drops so you can get them before they’re gone.
Don’t forget that flying into a nearby airport might save you even more! We are about an hour from the Clearwater Airport, and sometimes flying in and out of there can save you $100 PER flight!
Plus, the travel day matters. Traveling on a Tuesday or Wednesday could save you even more.
2. Save On Meals
We are traveling over to the other coast for a couple days at the end of the month to celebrate my hubby’s birthday and just like I plan with using my fuel rewards for gas, I’ve already started buying discounted gift cards for us to use at the local restaurants.
I planned out our meals based on what restaurants are nearby and which gift cards I could buy ahead of time either directly from the restaurant or just buy a discounted one from CardPool, CardCash or Raise.. You could save over 20% off JUST by planning a couple hours ahead and having a discount gift card to use!
And lastly, it is always fun once you get to your destination, to look on Restaurant.com for fun new local restaurants to try. We’ve been using Restaurant.com for years. When we first moved to Brandon, we found a fun Indian restaurant by getting the discounted certificates. A typical $25 git certificate only costs $10. That’s more than a 50% savings!
3. Save On Lodging
Traveling with a large family (we usually travel with 8 people in our party), the biggest feature I always look for, is a basic kitchen so we can cook a few meals as opposed to eating out for every single one.
After we check in at our destination, we search for the nearest grocery store and stock up on some easy breakfasts and fun desserts. Those are the two easiest things to avoid overspending on when we are away from home.
If you have some flexibility in your schedule, just like air travel is less on weekdays, an overnight stay during the week will be cheaper than the weekend. If you are planning a 5 day getaway, instead of traveling Thursday to Monday, plan that vacation from Sunday to Thursday instead. Then you’ll be back home before the overpriced weekend ever begins.
4. Save On Experiences
As soon as you’ve figured out where you want to go, I suggest you sign up for alerts from Groupon and LivingSocial for the city you’re traveling to. You’ll save far more than you would if you showed up to the attraction on any given day, even with a regular coupon.
The National Park Service website is brimming with information on upcoming activities and events. As a Mom who loves and needs to save money, I can’t think of a better or more inclusive way to not only have fun with your kids, but expose them to history, explore nature, and get involved in community events.
Also, did you know that active military members and their family can get a FREE annual pass?! We love our military and are thankful for each and every one – past, present and future, who sacrifice and serve our nation.
Often one of the most underused resources is a city’s visitor center or chamber of commerce. Every state has some wonderful attractions to explore. There’s more out there to explore besides the usual museum or zoo (although those are fun too).
YOUR TURN: What vacation plans are you saving up for? Let me know in the comments below!
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