Want to plan a family getaway this summer but working with a slim budget? Now is the time to get the ball rolling to find the best deals, destinations and activities.
Before you head out
Months before your trip think about where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. Are you flying or driving? This Fly or Drive Calculator is awesome for helping you figure that out.
When flying: Consider signing up for one — or more! — rewards cards to earn miles. Set up a Travel Alert to track when airline tickets fluctuate and jump when they are low enough. The best time to get the best price when you purchase tickets is at 9:00 pm ET, and the best fares are for flights on Wednesdays. Be otherwise flexible with flight times, days and departure/destination.
When driving: Download the MyMPG app to help you fine-tune your driving habits for better gas mileage. Get your car tuned and serviced prior to departure — and don’t forget to fill your tires to the recommended pressure. Just like with airline rewards, fuel stations are offering their own. Sign up and save at the pump.
For more great road trip tips: How to survive a family road trip without losing your mind and Summer road trip must-haves >>
Saving on lodging
Hotel rooms can add up after a while! But, with a little preparation, you can get the best bang for your buck. Here’s how: Consider going off the beaten path; a downtown Chicago hotel is twice as expensive as staying in one that’s a train ride away. Consider alternatives to hotels, such as HomeAway, VRBO or AirBnB. If you’re feeling brave, you may even try a home swap. Or, save the hassle and stay in a family friendly all-inclusive resort.
Wherever you stay, be sure to get some added perks such as free internet, breakfast and a pool. The pool is a must-have for moms with active kids.
Save when you’re there
Getting there is only half the battle — and it’s those little things that add up. So, be prepared. Make a budget then add a 20 percent cushion for activities. Some great ways to save include eating like a local, using deal site apps for local last-minute deals on activities and restaurants, traveling like an eco-tourist by using public transportation and otherwise living like a local.
Traveling on a budget with the family is certainly a responsible thing to do, however, don’t be such a stickler that you miss out on fun experiences and opportunities. Trust me, your amazing vacation memories will last a lot longer than a hit to your wallet.