It might be warm now, but when your mid-winter hits, you’ll have daydreams of flying off for a vacation where you can get away from it all. With just a little early planning, you’ll be able to find your way to the hottest – or coolest – family vacation destination. To get there, check out our top 10 tips to planning and saving for the winter getaway you deserve.
1. Start Saving Early
As soon as you finished unpacking from last year’s trip, start to save for your next vacation. Even if you don’t know exactly how much you’ll need to squirrel away, keep a family piggy bank in the kitchen, where every member drops in the loose change that collects in pockets, purses, and even in the crevices of the couch.
2. Try Something New
Instead of booking yet another beachside trip, plan an adventure tour that really immerses you in a new culture. Whether you’ve always wanted to experience a wildlife safari or an elephant jungle trek, check out www.gapadventures.com, where there are 10 travel styles to suit almost every wallet size.
3. Invest in Gear
If you spend every winter vacation sliding down the slopes or exploring the ocean deep beneath the waves, then save the rental fees and take your own equipment along. For growing kids, though, renting may be a more cost effective option – especially if your trip is only once a year.
4. Read the Fine Print
Newspaper travel sections are loaded with rock bottom holiday sale prices. But don’t haul your suitcases out of storage yet. First, be sure you can manage the flight restrictions, which may include blackout dates Saturday night stays and advance ticket requirements.
5. Compare Prices Online
Before you hand over your credit card, log onto the websites of various airlines and travel search engines (www.Expedia.ca, www.Travelocity.ca, www.Orbitz.com) that fly to your favourite holiday spot. Just key in your dates, the number of children and adults traveling, and your preferred flight times. Most engines will also give you the option to display the results in order from the lowest to the highest price.
6. Join a Preferred Guest Club
Some resorts (which often boast various family-friendly hotspots) offer frequent guest cards or clubs that entitle you to benefit from huge savings on future stays. So if you’re likely to head back for more of the same, sign up for special offers such as reduced rates for rooms and airline tickets.
7. Check Alternative Airports
Even counting the cost to park your car in the airport garage for a week, it’s often worth the road trip to the next city to save a bundle on flights for your whole family. In some cases you can save thousands by driving across the border to another airport instead of flying off from the nearest city.
8. Go to the Source
If you know exactly where you’re headed, call the hotel directly. Since there’s no middleman, their prices may be the lowest. And don’t forget to ask if they have any specials, such as ‘2-for-1 rooms’ or ‘Kids Eat Free’. If you’ve seen competing deals advertised elsewhere, ask the hotel if they can offer a better package or a reduced price.
9. No Hotels? See Villas for Rent
So you’ve spent all day searching for a hotel room, and they’re either booked solid, or else offered for a king’s ransom. Don’t lose hope. You may end up with an entire villa for a fraction of the price by renting directly from an owner. Check out sites like VRBO.com, or Cyberrentals.com [[URL] to get started on your search.
10. Plan a Group Trip
If you do go the rent-from-owner route, why not invite your best friend and her clan along? That way, you’ll be able to afford a bigger place, and you can split the cost of groceries instead of eating up all your cash at restaurants.
When you add up all the ways you can save, your dream trip can become a lot more affordable. The key is to start saving early and do your research before you buy.