Tomika Bryant of My Mommy’s Neighborhood offers a few tips and tricks on planning a family vacation without breaking the bank.
If you are like me then you are probably longing for the lazy days of summer, as I look out my window to the 10 inches of snow that seems to increase every day. Last year, due to medical reasons and other constraints, we were not able to travel like I would have liked but I plan to make up for it this year. I called a family meeting during one the many snow days and declared our summer vacation plans.
I want my children to have fond memories of summer and of travel much like I did. The funny part is while I just wanted to visit a local beach or see something that only required a few hours of driving, my children have elaborate vacation ideas. London, Hollywood, Jamaica, Disney and Paradise Island were on the tongues of both children. I wondered to myself, “did we hit the lottery and no one told me? Or maybe the Publisher’s Clearing House people were on their way with a check in hand.” Either way, I realized that I needed to come up with a plan to make something happen and quickly. I told the kids to do some research on their choices and be prepared to convince my husband and me of their favorite choice. Meanwhile, I had to figure out how to pay for the elaborate idea they were sure to develop. The prices during the summer are higher but I realize with flexibility and a budget, I can make this happen.
SLEEPING & EATING
Prices vary throughout the summer but I find if I call the hotels of interest to determine the weeks where they have low occupancy, I can get a better rate. Don’t forget to ask for association discounts such as AAA or AARP. There are usually other options available, include renting a house or condo through local realtors. The added benefit to this option is the kitchen which can help reduce food experiences drastically.
As a family of four, traveling by car is the cheapest option but with some research you can get reasonable airfare. The best time to research prices is late night/early morning Tuesday or Wednesday. This is when most airlines adjust their prices. Tuesday and Wednesday are also great travel days. I suggest you start checking airline prices early in the process and be prepared to purchase when you find a price that suits your budget.
It never fails that my family always needs a vacation after the vacation so I try to plan a few days of laziness. We will allow the kids research the activities they would like to do at the chosen destination. My job is very clear, to find the best discounts available. I always try to purchase museum memberships that offer reciprocal admissions at museums in other cities whenever possible. I’ve noticed that in many cities they have free or reduced admission on certain days and times. Don’t forget to check out your local super-club as their discount offers could also help you stay within budget. I scored a 3-day pass last year to an amusement park at the price I would have paid for one and it is good for 3 years. The hotel can usually recommend activities and they often have discounts directly from the establishment.
My crew can eat and seems to do so even more when we are on vacation. This is where those kitchens come in handy. If this isn’t an option, I always make certain that my room has a refrigerator. Prior to arriving, I have clipped any coupons or food deals for the week so all I have left to do is hit the store. I try to get meals that are easy and require very little preparation since I am on vacation. We will eat out a few days but seek out places that offer free or reduced meals for kids.
Tomika Bryant My Mommy’s Neighborhood