With summer travel on everyone’s mind, we’re excited to have a special guest author today’s blog! Suzanne Rowan Kelleher is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of WeJustGotBack.com, a multi-award-winning family travel planning site. As a go-to travel expert, Suzanne has appeared on national TV and radio programs including CNN, ABC News Now and NBC News. She is married with three kids.
5 Ways to Save on Your Summer Vacation
As a family travel expert and longtime travel journalist, I’ve been watching travel trends since before I had kids. I’m always looking at industry statistics, travel surveys and consumer polls and then connecting the dots to determine how families can get the best value when they plan a vacation.
One dismal trend is that airfares have been rising, and nobody in the travel industry seems to think they’re going down anytime soon. The high cost of air travel means that the family road trip is still the cheapest way to take a vacation. One of the most economical strategies is to jump into the “nearcation” trend, targeting vacation spots within a day’s drive of your home.
Here are my five tips to help you plan an affordable family getaway:
- Be a backyard explorer. Think all the great destinations are further afield? Check out your state’s official tourism website as well as those for neighboring states. Not only will you find discounts and getaway packages, but you’ll be surprised at how many beautiful getaways spots are right in your backyard. Remember, kids don’t care how far you travel, as long as they have fun when you get there.
- Make value your top priority. The trick is to find a place to stay where you get as much as possible included in your hotel room rate. If your family loves waterparks as much as mine does, then an indoor waterpark resort such as Great Wolf Lodge translates to great value. The room rate includes unlimited access to an enormous waterpark with waterslides, raft rides, lazy rivers, wave pools and more, from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave. Best of all: waterpark admission is exclusive to hotel guests.
- Plan your meals. When budgeting for a vacation, it’s easy to underestimate how much you’ll spend on food – especially during the journey itself. Purchases from your local grocery store are cheaper than convenience stores and fast food restaurants, so buy your kids’ favorite snacks and drinks before you leave home. This also means you’ll need to make fewer stops along the way.
- Go midweek. We all love the idea of extending a long weekend, but you will usually get more bang from your buck when you take off Tuesday to Thursday. Not only are midweek rates lower at Great Wolf Lodge and many other hotels and resorts, but crowds are thinner, too!
- Fuel up for less. Nobody wants to spend more than they have to for gas. I’m a huge fan of GasBuddy, a site and app that helps travelers find the cheapest gas wherever they are. I use GasBuddy to budget my gas spend for each road trip, and also to find the gas stations along my route offering the cheapest gas prices. It makes saving money a no-brainer.