Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Top Ten Tips for Great Travel Deals

Vacation season is gearing up for most people.  In fact, I talked to my friend the other night and she and her family were in Colorado as her kids were already on spring break.  With the economy the way it is, you may have some constraints on your vacation budget, but just because you have constraints, doesn’t mean you cannot have a great vacation.

Social Moms (formerly Twittermoms) has teamed up with Alamo to ask moms everywhere to share their top 10 tips for getting away with great family travel deals.  Here are some tips I have:

  1. Plan to travel out of season, if at all possible.  Rates on hotels, condos and car rentals will be much less.  Florida in June and early July is still very nice and not unbearably hot.  We have had incredible prices on our pick of condos.
  2. Join AAA or some other plan.  Many times, you can get reduced rates, tickets, etc. for just about anything—hotels, car rentals, tickets and more.  The savings you get can easily cover the cost of membership.
  3. Before you take your trip, visit the websites of any attractions you are interested in.  They may have promotions or coupons that you can print off.  Also, just do a general search for coupons for the attraction site.  Grab the magazines at the hotel, gas station, or airport.  These usually contain coupons for area attractions.
  4. Most places offer great, free attractions, such as parks and nature trails. Many cities offer free admission to museums on certain days.  Or maybe there is a special market or store that offers fun sites.  Just in Cincinnati, I know the Cincinnati Art Museum and Krohn’s Conservatory are free every day and these are both wonderful attractions.  In addition, the Taft Art Museum offers free Sundays.  Cincinnati also boast Findley Market, a Bass Pro Shop (with attractions) and  Trader Joe’s.Contact the Chamber of Commerce before you travel.  They will generally provide you with information about area attractions, including free attractions.
  5. If you are really on a tight budget, consider a stay-cation.  Most people have never visited all the attractions their area has to offer.  But to really get the feel of a vacation, unplug the phone, etc. at home. 
  6. Look for hotels that offer a free breakfast.  Then, plan to eat some meals in or pack a lunch.  Buy the makings for lunch a supermarket.  Order a pizza in—this is a lot cheaper than dining out and paying for beverages and tips.
  7. Some people like to have a special charge card to earn points for travel.  I have a friend who used a Disney charge card for years and earned points for a trip.
  8. When flying, try to travel on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.  Ticket prices are often much cheaper on those days.
  9. Also, when flying, consider flying into a different airport or leaving out of one that isn’t too far.  Sometimes, you can get much better rates.  But be careful, you need to weigh it out with the car rental costs.  In the past, it actually worked out better for me to fly to my destination (Sarasota) and pay more for my airline ticket than to fly into Tampa (at a significantly reduced airline cost) because the car rental was significantly more from the Tampa airport.
  10. Also, if flying to a destination where you know someone, consider asking them to pick you up at the airport and getting a car rental outside of the airport area.  Car rentals at the airport are usually higher than rentals a few miles down the road.
I hope I have given you a few ideas to help you out.  Do you have any special travel tips for saving money?  I hope you will share your favorites with me!

Disclosure:  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

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