I am someone who tries to take two or three vacations a year. There’s something really special about sinking my toes into the sand for the very first time or submerging myself into another city’s history. The world has so much to offer, why not try to see it all with our family by our side… even if it’s just for a few days at a time?
However, traveling can be costly and planning the trip can be very time consuming. I have learned over the years that with these seven tips, I can book any vacation with ease.
1. Word of Mouth
The best way to discover that perfect beach resort is to ask your friends where they’ve vacationed in the past. Not only will you get a recap of their personal experiences, but you will also hear about restaurant recommendations and tour tips from people who have already enjoyed the location. The majority of my trips are booked this way. Whether it’s through friends, blogs or travel review sites in general, I just love to explore photography, read journals and check out highlighted websites.
Tip: Head on over to Instagram and search the tags #Travel or #InstaTravel. You can really begin to get some great ideas for locations by seeing where the rest of the world is currently vacationing.
2. Travel Deal Sites
A great way to try to save money while planning a trip is to make use of travel deal sites. Whether you check for updates daily or sign up for their newsletter, it makes sense to see what savings each location is currently advertising because the right package could truly make a difference to your bottom line. Look for packages that include flight and hotel combinations.
Rather talk to a travel agent? Believe it or not, these brick and mortar stores offer up similar deals. Head in and let your advisor know what you are looking for, how much you want to spend and what week you have off from work. More and more travel agents are only a phone call away – having private practices at home. Find someone you trust from the neighborhood and give them a shout! A 10-minute phone call can certainly put you on the right path towards savings. Let the professionals do all the heavy lifting. If you still want to compare their findings with a quick online search of your own – go ahead!
3. Luggage and Laundry
As a family of five, I can tell you that we typically over pack for trips. I’m a girl who likes options and my children have inherited this trait from me. But some airlines charge a bag fee (around $25 per luggage piece) and when we fly on those carriers, we really edit down what items we bring along. During those trips, I always make sure to call our lodging ahead and guarantee that laundry services are available on property. While the kids are soaking in the pool, I spend an afternoon running up and down getting through several loads of dirty clothes. This enables us to go away for long periods of time with minimal luggage and without incurring unnecessary baggage fees.
4. Car Rentals
Check online for car rental deals and make sure you are part of the Alamo Insiders club before making your reservation. This will ensure you receive all the updated coupons, last-minute specials and partner deals that are currently available to customers. As an Alamo Insider, you’ll discover how easy it is to book your car of choice and pick it up once you land at your final destination. Travel in style and comfort and know that you will have a ride waiting for you and your family no matter where you are.
I know everyone wants to have the best photos for online social sharing, but think about how you want to capture your vacation memories and prepare ahead of time for your option. Whether you just want to stick to your phone, or hire a photographer on the spot (there are services available online that can help you locate professionals in every city worldwide), consider batteries, chargers, memory cards and storage. The last thing you want to do is land and find that your phone’s storage is completely full. Believe me, I’ve been there!
6. Hotel vs. Rental
With services like AirBnB in play, nowadays, hotels aren’t the only option in town. If you want to live like a local, you literally can! Just think a bit about what that would mean for your family. You can have complete control over your eating habits – cooking at home is a breeze with a full kitchen – but also consider if you really want to wash dishes, go food shopping and make your bed while you are away. There are pluses and minuses to each option. Convenience vs. cost-effectiveness: consider what is more important to you and then hone in on those properties.
7. Remember To Book Downtime
A seasoned traveler once told me a rule that she lives by, and I’ve been doing the same ever since:
Split your days into threes – book two-thirds and leave one-third completely free to relax, nap or just hit the pool.
I’ve gone to Disney World over a dozen times with my family and before talking to my friend, we would just stay at the park for hours and hours on end. We always thought that we had to get the most time squished into each day to make the trip “worth it.” But you know what? It would often leave us exhausted and snippy at one another. In other words, it wasn’t always a positive experience, even though technically we did cover a lot of ground. Ever since taking up this new model of thinking, our kids are so much happier because they aren’t being dragged around from one location to the next. Usually, we start nice and early and then head back to the hotel for an afternoon swim. Then we finish up our day exploring once again. It’s a great way to reset and revive. Something to consider the next time you head out on your next trip.
Hopefully, the tips I’ve shared will help you save money and time during your next planning session with your family.