Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Family Get Aways For Less

I am member of SocialMoms and they have teamed up with Alamo to introduce another fun blogging opportunity in honor of the Alamo Insiders program. If you are like me, we all want to save money when booking travel for the family. Alamo would like for me to share my top 10 tips on finding deals and insider information for getting away with you. You may read more about that request here.

My family and I love to get away from home every chance that we get. I am a stay at home mom of two school aged children so that means that I need to be crafty when planning a get away. I want to ensure that we have fun and stay on budget at the same time. I have devised a plan that allows our family to do exactly that: have fun and stay on budget while on a family get away.

1. My first step is to plan a get away budget. I like to figure out how much we can afford to spend on a get away before we actually plan it. This is just a dollar amount and at this time I don't even have a destination in mind.

2. We usually plan get aways that are a few hours away from home. Traveling by car is not only cheaper than airfare but for our family it is also easier. There is no parking at airport, transportation of luggage or extra waiting involved. You simply get in your car and drive. Once you arrive you are at your get away destination.

3. Accomodations: I ask my family what type of get away would they enjoy? I ask them if they would like to go camping or stay in a hotel. Once we figure out if we are camping or staying in a hotel then I start looking for accomodations.

4. Hotel choices: There are many types of hotels to choose from. I check online for hotel discounts and room rates by using hotwire, priceline, or orbitz. When looking at hotel choices I also check to see if a breakfast is included with the stay. A free breakfast will save you a lot of money each day. Sometimes they will even have fruit or dry cereal boxes that you can take with you for a snack later in the day.

5. If we are enjoying a warm weather get away, I check to see if the hotel we chose has a swimming pool. A swimming pool isn't necesary in colder weather months but it is a must in the warmer weather months. We always enjoy swimming and this is a great, free way to spend an afternoon or evening.

6. Free things to do once you get to your get away destination: Once I have planned a get away destination and hotel accomodations, then I start searching for free and low cost activities that we may enjoy while we are there. I look for local zoos, parks, museums and even events.

7. Coupons: A lot of times you can find online coupons or discounted admission passes through a website search. Google is my friend. I use it to find many discounts that save my family money. If you are new to finding discounts online and want to give it a try, it is easy. In your search engine you type in the word that you want and follow it with discount code. An example would be "Alamo discount code". A list of websites that mention your topic will be displayed. You go to those links to find the discount that you need. This is the same way that I also search for hotel discounts.

8. Travel Plazas: Normally when you cross a state line you will find a travel information plaza for that state. This is a great place to get out of your car, stretch your legs and find money saving coupons! I can spend an hour or more looking at travel brochures at the travel plazas. They are free so pick you up a few that look interesting and then look at them at your hotel or while you ride in the car. If you ask the desk attendant for coupons they may even have some for you. It's free to ask and you might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

9. Dining Out or Eating In: To help our get aways stay on budget, we will stop at a grocery store once we reach our destination. I will pick up snack foods, fruits, peanut butter, jelly, bread, drinks and other items that may keep for a few days. If our room has a mini fridge and / or microwave then I will pick up other cold foods to make sandwiches and small meals with. For us, a normal get away day is breakfast at the hotel (free), lunch may be at a restaurant since we will be out exploring our destination, and dinner may be a light sandwich in the room. I usually remember to buy some popcorn also. Our family loves to watch a movie and enjoy popcorn in our hotel room while on our mini vacation!

10. Stay Safe: My last tip is to enjoy your family get away and remember to stay safe. Buckle up and obey the speed limits because a traffic ticket will blow your budget completely!

Disclosure: 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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