Thanks to guest author Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings expert who shares these great “trip tips” that will “keep your budget in check” and lead to great family adventures…
Families with school-aged kids are eagerly awaiting the upcoming spring break for a chance to escape the real world and enjoy some extra time together. Since this week-long hiatus typically occurs between mid-March and mid-April, parents have likely confirmed most of the travel arrangements like flights and hotel.
While it’s important to find the best airfare and accommodation deals, keeping costs in mind when you get to your destination is equally crucial. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and spend beyond your means, especially with such temptations as afternoon snacks, unplanned excursions and must-have souvenirs.
To help keep your budget in check this spring break, here are eight travel hacks that will save you money without compromising family fun.
Search daily deals.
Before heading on your trip, start scoping out daily deals offered at the destination you’re visiting. From restaurant savings to discounts on activities and entertainment, you can save a bundle using these vouchers. Sign up at Groupon or LivingSocial to get alerts via email or download the app for instant pop-up notifications so you don’t miss out on limited-time offers. Review the fine print and expiration dates first, though, to ensure the voucher will be valid during your vacation.
Redeem reward points.
If you have reward points saved up on your credit card, consider redeeming them for gift cards to restaurants and activities. For example, you can get cards for SpaFinder Wellness to help cover the cost of a spa day for you and your daughter, or AMC Theater gift cards to cut down on the expense of a family outing to the movies. Alternatively, you can save your reward points for a future family trip and use a site like RewardExpert.com to understand how many points you need for a specific destination, and create a plan to accrue them as quickly as possible!
Take public transportation.
If you’re visiting a city, using your car or renting one can turn into more time spent getting lost or in traffic than actually enjoying the sites. Not only will you reduce fuel and parking costs, but taking public transportation is a great way to get acquainted with a new area while saving you money. Plus, you’re more apt to engage with locals and may end up with great recommendations for restaurants and activities as a result.
Look for restaurant coupons.
Not having to cook is one of the luxuries parents look forward to when traveling. However, eating out for every meal can destroy your budget. Make sandwiches in your hotel room to take along for the day’s adventure and pack snacks to carry with you. For dinner, take advantage of early bird or happy hour discounts (and don’t forget the all important restaurant bag). What’s more, you can access restaurant coupons using the Coupon Sherpa mobile app for deals at both chain favorites and local eateries.
Buy an entertainment book.
You can access two-for-one and 50% off deals on restaurants, activities and more for whatever city you’re visiting through an entertainment book. For instance, buy an entertainment book for Santa Barbara and you’ll get one free child admission with one adult ticket for their popular Zoo, and in Orlando you’ll score one free bowling session when a second one is purchased at AMF Bowling Centers.
Find free activities.
To make the most of your trip, you may want to book an action-packed schedule of activities and tours for the entire family. But, this can get pricey and may also wipe you and your family out! There are likely plenty of free activities that you all will enjoy like swimming, hiking or star gazing. Consult with the hotel concierge or head to the city’s visitor bureau for a guide and list of ideas for free and low-cost things to do and see.
Participate in a volunteer activity.
There’s no better way to experience a community than to volunteer your time on a local project. Plus, any opportunity to show your children the magic of giving should be embraced! Use a site like VolunteerMatch.org to find opportunities in your destination city or town, and filter by those activities you think your family will enjoy most. For example, you can participate in a Clean Your Block Party event in Tampa Bay, Fl., with such projects as garden planting, habitat restoration, tree planting and more.
Snap lots of pictures.
Instead of loading up your suitcase with a bunch of souvenirs, capture the best memories with selfies and group shots using your camera’s timer setting. When you get home, create a digital photo book as your spring break keepsake, or order a custom photo book online from sites like Snapfish and Shutterfly. Reduce your costs with coupon codes from sites like FreeShipping.org, which is currently offering free shipping and 25% off your order from Snapfish.
Author Bio: Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer-finance expert who is passionate about helping families discover simple ways to spend less and save more without sacrificing their lifestyles. She is a frequent contributor to national shows such as Today, Good Morning America and FOX & Friends, and has worked with hundreds of other popular media like Dr. OZ, CNN, MSNBC, ABC World News, Inside Edition, Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, Real Simple, Family Circle, Cosmopolitan and many more. Andrea also writes for various news outlets and her stories have been published on Forbes, AOL Daily Finance, Yahoo!, Huffington Post, LearnVest, New York Daily News “Dollar Stretcher” and ClarkHoward.com. You can read more about Andrea and watch recent TV clips at www.AndreaWoroch.com.