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Is it really possible to travel more for less money? I know it seems like a myth, especially for families. But, trust me: if you know what you are doing, you can stretch your vacation dollars further. Here are 10 ways to do just that.
- 1. Do your research.
- 2. Visit off the beaten path locations.
- 3. Be flexible.
- 4. Look into alternative modes of travel.
- 5. Stay a little further away.
- 6. Go in the off season or shoulder season.
- 7. Look at packages.
- 8. Compare prices.
- 9. Look for “kids eat free” and “kids stay free” deals.
- 10. Be loyal.
1. Do your research.
The first way to travel more for less is to do your research. Spend some time really looking at all the possible options so you can find the best deal for your family.
Many times, you will find the same hotel listed on different websites for different prices. Airlines sometimes list sales on their own websites that aren’t advertised elsewhere.
You may also find that you can get a better deal on a rental car by renting it from a location that is not at an airport.
So, spend some time researching your trip before booking anything. This will almost always lead to you saving some money.
2. Visit off the beaten path locations.
More often than not, popular tourist attractions are busier and more expensive than lesser known experiences.
So, to get more bang for your buck, skip the things that get all the hype and visit some off the beaten path locations. This goes for destinations and attractions.
For example, while Albuquerque and Santa Fe are great, there are a ton of other amazing things to do in New Mexico that are just as amazing but for less money and with fewer crowds.
3. Be flexible.
Another way to save money on your travels is to be flexible as much as possible with your travel dates and plans.
Sometimes, you can save a good chunk of money simply by adjusting your arrival and/or departure days slightly. And sometimes, you can even extend your vacation while lowering your total cost.
Generally speaking, hotel rooms are cheaper during the week than on weekends. And airfare is usually cheaper when you fly during the week too. So, planning your trip from Tuesday to Tuesday will most likely be less expensive than the same trip from Saturday to Saturday.
I love using Google Flights to find the best days (in terms of price) to fly to a particular destination. It will show you the cheapest airfare on each day in a monthly calendar format. This makes it very easy to plan travel dates.
4. Look into alternative modes of travel.
Another way to travel more for less is to look at alternative modes of travel. This goes beyond just deciding whether to drive or fly. If you really get creative with your modes of transportation, you can lower the price of your trips significantly.
Do you need a rental car for your entire vacation or can you use public transportation? If you only need a car for a few days of your trip, then only rent one for those days instead of your entire vacation.
Consider flying into an alternative airport that may be a little bit further away from your destination. We once save over $5000 simply by flying into an airport that was an hour and a half further from where we were staying than the one we ordinarily would fly into.
Is it possible to take the train to your destination? Can you fly into a nearby city and then either drive or take the train to your ultimate location cheaper than flying in directly?
5. Stay a little further away.
Make your travel budget go further by staying a little bit further away from the action on your trips. Like with real estate, location is important when it comes to hotels.
You can get a hotel room two blocks from the beach for less money than one right on the beach. If you are willing to stay on the outskirts of the city rather than downtown, you can usually find bigger rooms with a lower price tag.
On our honeymoon, my husband and I stayed one block outside of Times Square in New York City for a fraction of the cost of hotels within Times Square.
6. Go in the off season or shoulder season.
You can also save money on your family vacations, which will allow you to travel more often, by going in the off season or shoulder season. If you are not aware of the term, shoulder season is the transition period between the slow season and the busy season.
Avoid the crowds and get cheaper prices by visiting popular locations during the slower times of year.
What exactly these months are will vary depending on the location, but during your travel research, you should be able to find this out pretty easily.
7. Look at packages.
Yet another way to stretch your vacation dollars is to look into booking your trip as a package instead of as individual components.
Most of the time, you will get a discount on your trip by booking it all together as a package. But, this is not always the case. So definitely check the prices of booking a package versus booking everything individually to get the best price.
8. Compare prices.
As mentioned in tip #7, you should compare prices when doing your research in order to find the absolute best deals on your vacations.
Not only should you compare packages against individual components, but you should also compare prices of all the different aspects of trip planning.
Look at what it will cost to fly into one airport versus another. Would it be cheaper to drive than fly? What will your total trip cost be if you stay for five days versus seven? Will it be less expensive to fly on American or Delta or United?
Spend some time running all the different numbers to find the perfect price for the trip you are wanting to take. Comparison shopping will always work in your favor.
9. Look for “kids eat free” and “kids stay free” deals.
If you are traveling with kids, look for “kids eat free” or “kids stay free” deals at hotels and restaurants. These discounts can make an otherwise cost prohibitive trip possible for families.
While these deals may only save you $10-25 at a time, they will definitely add up along the way. This is an easy way for families with multiple kids to make the most of their travel funds.
You should also look for other discounts that can reduce the costs of your overall trip, even if it is just a small savings here or there.
10. Be loyal.
Lastly, you can travel more for less by being a loyal customer. If you have an airline, hotel, or rental car company that you love, sign up for their loyalty rewards program.
These programs can earn you free rooms, flights, and upgrades, simply by using the same brand time and time again.
Even if you aren’t loyal to one particular hotel brand, you can still earn free hotel stays by booking all of your lodging through hotels.com. For every 10 nights you book with them, you will earn 1 free night.
With a good travel rewards credit card, you can earn free travel by making everyday purchases with it.
Family travel can be expensive, but if you know what you’re doing and spend a little time, you can save money and make it more affordable. These 10 tips to travel more for less should help you reduce the cost of your next family vacation.
For more money saving tips, see how to save on airfare, hotels, and rental cars, how to save for vacation, how to take a vacation when you can’t afford it, how to go to Disney World on a dime, how to earn airline miles without flying, and how to take amazing vacations on any budget.
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