Wednesday, March 9, 2011

10 tips for family travel deals

As gas prices and airline fares soar, families are looking at ways to save money, yet still take a fun family vacation. You can find deals and follow these tips to save money.

Travel Off Season
1. It can be very difficult to find ski deals Christmas week, or a cheap beach house in the Hamptons in August. Consider traveling in the ‘shoulder’ season, the time before or after the high season.

Public School breaks
This can be the most expensive time for family travel. For example, public schools in New York City have a week off in February around President’s Day, and ski vacations and flights to Florida shoot up in price. If you can take your kids out of school a day or two early, you can snag a better deal.

3. Snacks
Pack your own snacks so you don’t have to rely on overpriced convenience stores or, worse, yet, snacks at theme parks or tourist attractions. Because my family is vegetarian, I always have plenty of healthy snacks in case we can’t find suitable food. Bring refillable water bottles.

4. Car rental
Book your rental car, at a refundable rate, as early as possible. Then check prices again a week or two weeks before your trip, and again the day before. Agencies often run specials when they have a lower than expected rental rate and you can take advantage of that by rebooking at the special rate.
Car rental, step 2 Check after you rent your car. you might be able to snag an even better deal. Bid low; you can always bid again if your bid is rejected. Priceline rentals are non-refundable, so no more price checking after .on.

6. Car rental, step 3
Bring your own GPS, toll pass and car seat so you don't have to pay extra to rent these.

7. Public transportation
You might be able to forgo the rental car altogether and save even more money. Since kids often love riding trains and buses, see if you can just utilize these.

8. Museum memberships
If you are visiting a city or region with a local children’s museum, science museum, zoo or botanic garden, bring all your membership cards with you. Many non-profits offer reciprocity and you can have fun, like a local, for free.

9. Go Vegetarian
When you dine out on a family vacation, consider the vegetarian options. They are often several dollars cheaper than the rest of the menu.

10. Do Your homework
Research your chosen destination’s local convention and tourism bureau for free family-friendly events and attractions.

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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