#Travel – 10 Easy Ways to Save on Family Vacations & Road Trips


While work schedules and budget don’t always permit us to take a “big” vacation, we do frequently take mini-vacations. We’re getting ready to head out of town this weekend for a short family trip. If you’re also  hitting the road for some frugal family fun sometime soon, here are our top 10 tips for making the most of your dollars when getting away

1. Hotel Savings by Shopping Around Online
When you’re looking for hotel accommodations, be sure to shop around and compare hotel websites with discount travel sites. We were able to get a 4 star hotel for our trip for just $60 a night and if you have a 2012 Entertainment book, there is a coupon for a $20 free rebate on any stay when you book through Hotwire, making our room just $40 after rebate! Also look for hotels with complimentary breakfasts, or where kids eat free. Other things to check for are free internet and free parking.

2. Join Restaurant E-mail Clubs
If you know there will be particular restaurants you’ll be near or patronizing during your travels – be sure to sign up for their e-mail clubs. Many chains will send you free offers like appetizers or BOGO coupons (buy one get one free) just for signing up. We sign up for and print some of our favorites and take them with us when we go.
3. Great Deals Through Daily Deal Sites
I was a late joiner to daily deal sites but now that our family has gotten a taste – we’re hooked. Even though there are not Groupon deals for our area – we frequently purchase Groupon and other deals to towns we are visiting to score ½ or better deals on meals, shows, entertainment and more. 

4. E-bay and Craigslist
If you’re looking to score cheap tickets for a city’s event’s and activities, another place to try is eBay and Craigslist. We frequently are able to get concert tickets, show tickets and more last minute for a fraction of the cost. We went to amusement park today, and saved 50% by buying gift cards online.
5. Going to a Major City? Get a City Pass!
If you’re going to a major city, be sure to check out www.citypass.com. These passes offer some great discounted deals to see the sites, and the price is a fraction of what it would cost to see just a couple attractions! We’ve bought these for several cities, and they’ve been a great deal every time!
6. Free Family Activities
Membership programs can be a great way to score coupons and free items, but they can also often get you free tickets for activities and events. If you’re a Coke Rewards member, you might have redeemed points for sweepstakes or free soft drinks, but did you know you can redeem them for attractions as well? During a recent getaway, we were able to get a free ticket to Six Flags from Coke Rewards, and partnered it with a coupon for a free kid’s admission with an adult admission. As a result, we only had to pay out of pocket for 1 of the 4 tickets to get admission to the park for the day (our little guy was free due to his age). 

7. Free Tickets With Sports Fan Club Memberships
Are you a member of a fan club, or supporting member of an attraction? It may include free event tickets! My husband is a die hard baseball fan and both he and my 3 year old son are members of their favorite team’s fan club. There are various perks of fan club membership, but one we were able to take advantage of recently was 2 free tickets (per membership) to a major league ball game. We were able to get 4 free tickets to see our MLB team play. They were great seats – and you couldn’t beat the price of free! 

8. Big Savings on Restaurant Gift Certificates
Did you know that you can buy restaurant gift certificates ahead of time for many locations for a fraction of the price? Restaurant.com offers gift certificates for restaurants around the country for a fraction of the price. Visit Restaurant.comto check available restaurants in your area. 

9. Put Those Old Airline Miles to Good Use
Have airline miles racked up, but no where enough for a free ticket? You may be able to redeem them for other items! Many airlines now offer frequent flyer club members the ability to cash in miles for things other than free flights including restaurant and store gift cards. During a recent trip, we were able to have a great meal at a steakhouse for free due to a $50 gift card I received from frequent flyer miles. 

10. Cash in Points
Do you participate in reward programs like MyPoints or Swagbucks? There are lots of programs online where you can earn points for reading e-mails, doing searches, and even shopping online – just like you normally do, but you earn points towards gift certificates and other merchandise for doing so. Swagbucks is a program our family uses where you can earn free items including restaurant and shopping gift certificates. Click here for more information. We stock up on points, and then redeem them a few weeks before hitting the road.


  1. Janet W. says:

    Those are definitely good tips. And once you’re on vacation, you can save a lot of money by cooking some meals yourself instead eating out for every single meal.

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