May 11, 2013

Traveling for Less

One of my favorite things to do is travel. I grew up in a home where we weren’t able to travel a lot, so taking family vacations is something that is very important to me. As you know, the economy hasn’t been the greatest for a while now, which has made it harder on families to take nice vacations together. In fact, many families have opted to take “stay-cations” where they take off work for a week but explore the local area instead of traveling and incurring the expenses associated with lodging and food.

Even if we aren’t talking about a week long vacation, the cost of traveling is expensive nonetheless. Below are a few tips to help you and your family travel for less. 
1.      VRBO.com – One of my favorite sites to use when booking lodging for a family getaway is vrbo.com. It stands for “vacation rentals by owner.” While I love the priceline.com for hotels, I’ve found that the best deals for lodging can often be found on vrbo.com. Why? The listings you will find on this website are apartments, condos, houses, etc. listed by the owners themselves. Often times, you can get a two bedroom condo for the same price as a one bedroom hotel room. For a family with kids, this is a better deal as everyone has more room to spread out…especially for those week long (or more) vacations. And, since they are listed by the owners themselves, they are often used by the owners too...meaning they are often well taken care of. 

2.      Credit Cards – This year my husband and I have planned a 7 night Disney cruise for our vacation. We’ve been saving up since last November and it will be our first big vacation in a year and a half. Since we have been planning it for so long, we had the opportunity to take advantage of some pretty good credit card offers. First of all let me say that I am not a fan of credit cards. My husband and I keep them for emergencies and usually have a $0 balance on them. Anyways, American Express sent us an offer for their Sky Blue card that basically gives us $400 worth of redeemable travel points if we put $500 on the card within the first three months.  

We used the card for gas and paid the balance in full every month. Once we reached the $500 requirement, we stopped using the card. When we book our airline tickets for the cruise, we will basically get one round-trip ticket for free thanks to this offer. Therefore, if you are able to plan far enough in advance for an upcoming vacation, it may be in your benefit to take advantage of credit card offers like the one we received. I mean, who doesn’t want a free airline ticket? That’s $400 we don’t have to spend now! 

3.      Eat In – My priority when taking a vacation (aside from a cruise) is to explore the area. I love to get out and do things. In order to afford the price of some of these activities, my husband and I choose to eat most of our meals at the condo. I make it a priority to book rooms that either have a kitchenette or a full kitchen so that we can make sandwiches for lunch and prepare dinner at night. Yes, we do go out to eat a few times while on vacation, but most of the time we eat in. Food didn’t used to cost as much when it was just the hubby and myself, but now that we have kids…the food bill has risen substantially. We can easily save $300 or more just by preparing our own food!
 
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