As a family who travels on a monthly basis, I have been asked countless of times how we’re able to make that happen. People think that after kids, traveling has to stop, but it is possible to show your children the world on a budget.
Whether you want to go on a fun weekend getaway or take a family vacation this summer, there are several ways you can save money on your trip. All it takes is some planning and a little bit of effort and you are off on a great trip without breaking the bank.
Check out these 10 easy ways I have discovered that helps my family to cut down on travel costs and because of that, we are able to travel more often.
1. Join reward programs.
Most hotel companies and airlines have a reward program that you can sign up for and earn points for discounted—and sometimes free!—flights and hotel stays.
Make sure to sign your kids up for airlines reward programs as well so that they can start building their own miles.
2. Call ahead for deals.
Try giving the hotel a call directly and ask about current deals and promotions. Or check out their website and look for free nights stays after you book a stay for a certain amount of nights. Kids sometimes stay and eat for free at hotels and cruises, so it doesn’t hurt to ask! Carnival and Norwegian Cruise usually offers a kids fly free deal often, and big hotels such as the Nickelodeon Resort in Punta Cana which is a kids favorite also offers a kids stay free deal as well.
3. Use local coupons.
If you do a little research and look for coupons on your destination’s tourism website, you may find some super deals and discounts for hotels, restaurants, and local attractions.
Groupon is a great website that offers plenty of travel coupons and deals also. We’ve booked lots of deals using Groupon. We recently stayed at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort in California with our kids. The hotel price was $399/night, but we only paid $120/night by booking it on Groupon.
4. Stop by the visitors’ center.
If the place you’re visiting has an information or a visitors’ center, stop in and pick up brochures with coupons.
Also ask the attendant for discount information—they’re usually very knowledgeable about the area and can offer some great insight on free things to do, local events and much more.
5. Follow your dream destinations on social media.
Some of your favorite resorts or destinations often post deals on social media, so start following them.
Also, find websites that share travel deals on a daily basis and follow them too. This is how we’re able to find most of our travel deals, especially as these emails are sent directly to your email. O
ur favorite deal was $14 flight on Frontier Airlines to Orlando. When I saw this deal, I booked it immediately and our family spent five fun-filled days in Orlando. This deal wouldn’t have been possible if we hadn’t signed up for those emails.
6. Be flexible when flying.
When you’re entering your dates for airline tickets, put in several different days of the week because fares fluctuate. Days like Tuesday and Wednesday are usually cheaper than flying on weekends. If your trip doesn’t have to be on a certain day, you’ll be able to save some money by selecting a lower fare day to travel on.
Skyscanner and Google Flights are the best, as well as my favorite, websites for finding the cheapest day to fly anywhere in the world. I use the “everywhere” search option on Skyscanner and then travel to the cheapest place on that list. (You can download the Skyscanner App to track flight prices, search for hotels, rental cars, and much more.)
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7. Travel overnight.
If you don’t mind sleeping on the train, airplane, or bus, then a great way to save is by traveling overnight. This way you don’t have to book a room for that night—and you can get there in the morning ready to explore. We love booking red eye flights, and do this often with the kids, versus flying and getting there late in the day and still needing to pay for a hotel.
8. Go on a road trip.
People think that travel only involves flying. But road trips are also a great way to travel with kids, especially during high season when airfare tickets are very expensive like summer, spring, and winter breaks. You’ll be saving money on expensive airfare, and also have the option to visit several new cities as you drive along the way.
Make sure that if you are driving long distance, or going on a road trip, you get everything checked out including the oil, all fluids, the brakes, and especially the tires. This will cut down the chance of car issues while you are on the road.
9. Eat local.
Once you reach your destination, ask around for the good breakfast and lunch spots. Also make sure to find a restaurant that has lunch specials—and a restaurant with a kids menu also is gold.
Not only will you get a taste of the local cuisine, you’ll also save a few dollars on your meal. We take advantage of lunch specials and have a big lunch, and then a light dinner. This helps on costs, especially as dinner is usually more expensive.
10. Stay in an apartment or house.
Try AirBnb, VRBO, or any other reputable online vacation rental company for apartments or homes. Not only will you have more room, but you can cook meals to save money. Usually the more nights you stay, the cheaper the nightly rate. Airbnb is our choice when we go on vacation, we have used Airbnb in Chile, Mexico, Las Vegas and plenty of other places. It is perfect for big families too!
AirBnB offers a discount for first-time users; click here to get $40 off your first booking.
(Editor’s note: If you buy something through some of the links, Karen Akpan may earn an affiliate commission.)