- When it comes to finding flights - instead of using sites like Orbitz.com and CheapTickets.com, try going directly to the site of the airlines you want to use. For example, Southwest.com is usually the cheapest in my experience. But it all depends on where your going.
- Look for smaller, less-known airlines. Frontier for example, is a great one. They don't go all over the country, but they do cover quite a bit of land. Check them out at FrontierAirlines.com . They also have a pretty decent prices from what I have seen.
- If your planning on going to a popular destination, try going during their "off season". Or look to see when they say they are less busy. For example if going to an amusement park, if you can go during the week between 8am and 3pm - you would be going while most people are at work and/or school. Less lines, less crowds.
- To get discounts, join AAA - they have awesome discounts for flights, hotels, and travel destinations all over the place. I have AAA, and I can tell you from personal experience, its worth it.
- When booking a flight, try to leave and go back home during the week - like on Tuesday or Wednesday. May feel weird to you, but its usually cheaper. The weekends are the most popular days for flights, so they are usually more expensive.
- If your travel destination is a very popular place, you may want to consider planning as early as you can. 6 months ahead of time if you can even. Purchase the tickets for the flight, book your room, plan (and possibly book) any tours or attractions that you would want to go and do while you are there. Start doing your research on your destination in advance, that way you will know what you would want to do when it comes time to plan. This is helpful especially for trips to places such as Disney World/Land, Universal Studios Florida, even for Cruises.
- Try something local for a change. If your used to going out every year and doing something big, try staying home and exploring your home state. For me, I live in the Phoenix area of Arizona. I think it would be fun to do a road trip and visit Sedona, Arizona and then travel up to the Grand Canyon. It would be cheaper than a flight, and there is so much to see along the way. Look for the tourist attractions in your state or area, and see what may interest you. You may be surprised!
- Don't fly. Drive! If your planning on going a state or two over, why not just drive? It still may be cheaper than flying. And depending on how many drivers you have, you could get there pretty quickly. Plus all the sights along the way - would probably be beautiful. I understand if you have small children this may not be the option. But maybe it could be if you were to rent an RV to go?! The kids would probably think its cool, and you could take board games, video games, etc and keep them occupied. I once drove from Phoenix to Las Vegas. It was only 5 hours, but it was pretty, and fun. I saw things I would not have seen had I flown. I remember as a kid going from Ohio to Pennsylvania and Maryland to see family. Those were so much fun - and these things your kids will remember for years to come!
- Do you have frequent flyer miles? Loyalty rewards for hotels you stay at often? Use them! Do you have credit card that offer these as rewards? If you don't already use these, you should consider using them/saving them/starting a program. They are worth it. If you find that you fly a certain airline every year, start earning air miles with them - so what if you only use it once a year, in a few years you may have enough miles to pay for the flight for the entire family for most - if not all - of the way to a travel destination. That is a great reward!
- Save save save! Everyone starts saving for their vacation/trips a few weeks to a couple of months before. Why not start saving a year before? Start saving now for next years trip. It really helps relieve some of the last minute tension of saving and making sure you have enough spending money. If you start saving early enough, you may have an extra $1000 or more to spend on your vacation on frivolous things that you normally wouldn't enjoy, for lack of cash.
One last tip - Find coupons for things at your destination. Whether its Las Vegas or Hawaii - theres coupons all over for restaurants, attractions, everything. When you check into your hotel, ask them if theres a coupon book, or an entertainment guide, or something like that. There may even be deals/coupons in the phone book in your hotel room!
Ok, well, I hope that helped you. This is what me and my husband use whenever we plan a trip - no matter how far or how close. These are only some of the suggestions. Ask your friends or family what their suggestions are, they may be more creative than this!
If you have something to share - please do! Tell me what your money saving tips are for family vacations! I would love to hear!
“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.”