Ed note: It’s always great to get a good deal. But sometimes when you’re taking a big trip with the whole family, a good deal is a necessity – not a bonus. Yoly Mason shares some of her top tips for frugal family travel. Leer en español.
As a family, we always look forward to planning our annual vacation. Traveling is our way to unplug from the routine. We sit down to brainstorm dream places we would love to visit. Once we have narrowed down a list of places, we start looking into the times we could fly. That’s when the budgeting starts. Here are some tips to help you stay under budget while traveling.
Know Your Airlines
Do you have a favorite airline? Subscribe to their newsletter to receive their sales and bonus deals. Earlier this year, we were able to book our airfare to New York City for just $64 a person on a good airline because one of their one day sale. Additionally, taking advantage of airlines’ frequent flyer programs could help get your discounts on airfare.
Be flexible with your plans.
Keep your options open by knowing alternate airports. That $64 ticket departed from an alternate airport to us. By driving an extra 15 minutes it saved us hundreds! Staying somewhere close to home? If time is on your side, consider skipping the plane ride and look into driving, taking a train or bus ride.
Cooking in or eating out?
Another way we stay under budget is staying at hotels that offer free breakfast. It is worth it! Not only do you save a little money, you’ll save time by not having to make an extra stop for breakfast. If you rather cook your own meals, which is pretty savvy, take a look at Airbnb or VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner).
Wanting to enjoy the local food scene instead? Yelp can help you research restaurants based on your favorite cuisines. To stay under budget after having a short list of restaurants we look into services like Restaurant.com, LivingSocial and Groupon to get discounted meals. One trick I love is looking at those restaurants’ Facebook pages. In my experience, this is a great way to learn about their weekly specials ahead of time.
The golden rule.
Being nice pays off most of the time. My husband always jokes that he is the “happy customer” of the day with hotel and airline employees. We have been able to score airline upgrades by asking nicely. We prefer to arrive to hotels later in the evening instead of right at their check-in time to score room upgrades. Our reasoning is that by that time front desk employees have a better idea of what’s available as well as the front desk area is not packed and there’s more opportunity to build rapport and reasonable with the ask. And when in doubt just ask for a discount or upgrade. What’s the worst thing that can happen? They say no. You’d be surprised that often they’ll be willing to help you out getting complimentary upgrades, free beverages and even more discounts.