Summer vacations–whether for families, couples, singles or groups–don’t have to be expensive to be memorable. In the last of our three-part series (see Part I & Part II), we give you tips to help you stay within your budget while planning your summer getaway.
Each year, the Staes family travels to a different state for Amateur Athletic Union Basketball finals, which doubles as a week-long summer vacation. Having three children with varying ages and interests—Ethan, 13; Grace, 10; and Holden, 6–the Staes try to have fun without breaking the bank. “When possible, my husband Steven and I rent a home or condo for the week for $600. We can cook several meals, enjoy the private pool, and use amenities like the game room,” says Michelle, 41. “When we stay at a hotel, we look for discounts and complimentary breakfast.”
When in a city with an amusement park, try inquiring at the local grocery store, gas station or visitor’s bureau about discount tickets. About.com has a comprehensive section on its Website, Themeparks.about.com, that gives information on savings at theme parks, water parks and roller coasters throughout the world. “A couple of Websites specialize in Disney World with incredible detail. All Ears lists current menus with prices. And Mouse Savers, which is dedicated to saving money at Disney World, has details about meals, snacks and drinks,” says Teresa Plowright, family vacations writer for About.com.
For free fun and excitement, type 101 things to do and your state into your browser. Our nation’s capital offers myriad tourist attractions from visiting the Smithsonian and Lincoln Memorial to the National Zoo and Space Museum. You can also find deals by clicking on the 101 free things to do in Washington D.C. link. “The National monuments, the U.S. Capital building and White House are free also,” says Widzer. One little-known perk in D.C.: you can contact your member of Congress in advance of your trip to request complimentary tickets to tour the White House.
Take advantage of special discounts
Websites such as MyKidsEatFree.com, KidsMealDeals.com, and KidsEat4Free.com list restaurants that offer kids’ meals free of charge. Adults can enjoy discounts on dining as well. “A site I’ve recently learned about is CouponMap.com. For any given location, the site lists available coupons at all sorts of places, including restaurants and attractions,” says Plowright. There are also discounts for students. Check out Websites such as Student Universe and Contiki.
More Travel Websites for Summer Vacation Deals
Sidestep.com – Searches over 200 travel sites for best deals
Priceline.com – Name your price discounts and best prices guaranteed
Expedia.com – Provides info for researching, planning, and purchasing trip