Traveling is always an adventure for my family. Our goal is to visit all 50 states in addition to traveling to other countries. One of our biggest slips is being repeat offenders. We, sometimes, find ourselves in the same state because one party has been to the state already and now the other parties are wanting to experience all the state has to offer. Another reason we find ourselves in this predicament is because some states are too big and have too many cities we would like to visit to accomplish everything in one trip.
Budget determines a lot of where we go and what we do. We try to spend around the same amount every year regardless of where our final destination might be. Because we are in education, summer is the best time for us to travel. It is also the most expensive time of the year to travel. With that in mind, we have found many ways to make the most of our vacations and not break the bank. What is it we do to make the most of our vacations you ask?
- Plan ahead. We plan a year in advance for every vacation. This allows us to have an idea of cost and any provisions we might need to make before the trip. (We have a Plan A, B, and C. This means we have multiple options based on cost.
- Make it a road trip if possible. In most cases, paying for gas is cheaper than the cost of one round trip plane ticket. This also allows us to cover multiple states in one trip.
- Pay with prepaid gas cards versus using cash. Most often, we save approximately $.10/gallon by using a prepaid gas card.
- Find free attractions/activities along the way. When traveling through the smaller states that have few attractions of interest, we stop, visit a few of the attractions and make it an overnight trip. We are then able to scratch that state off the list.
- Pack snacks for the trip. Purchasing snacks from the local grocery store or Family Dollar is far cheaper than the gas station snacks.
- Subscribe to rewards programs such as Marriott Rewards and Choice Hotels Rewards. We typically have a couple of free nights that we use on the way going to our destination and on the way home.
- Pay in advance for the hotel. Hotels will give a 10%-15% discount when parties pay in advance.
- Purchase tickets for attractions in advance. Most will give a discount if you purchase tickets at least 7 days in advance. If we are doing multiple attractions in the same city, we look for a bundle packet. This usually saves us money as well.
- Buy plane tickets in advance. The early bird gets the worm!
- Stay in hotels that provide breakfast.
- Travel when hotels are offering additional points. Points can be redeemed for free nights at later dates.
These money saving tips allow us to enjoy ourselves every summer. This also allows us opportunities to still enjoy our summer while we’re home because we don’t put ourselves in a financial bind. We are not penalized for having fun on our vacations!