1. Book your stay at a hotel or rental home with a mini/full kitchen and cook your own meals.
We personally like to find affordable AirBNBs with kitchens that have rates comparable to a standard hotel room. I actually really enjoy cooking, so I look forward to having cozy meals in our home-away-from-home. This is not to say we don’t also enjoy eating a few meals out while on vacation, but it certainly saves money when considering the average cost of food per person per day on vacation is about $40.00. That cost adds up real fast.
I like to research grocery stores ahead of time, and plan a pickup order if it’s a short trip (to spend more time enjoying the vacation locale). Or, we’ll spend time together as a family building the menu on-the-fly as we peruse the grocery store aisles.
2. Visit in the off-season.
The busiest time of year to travel anywhere is the summer, for obvious reasons. Kids are out of school, the weather is more predictable, and there are more flights than any other time of year. But those conveniences come at a literal cost. Do some research on your vacation destination and find out when the shoulder season starts, and what weather to expect for that time of year. You’ll be amazed how much cheaper flights, cars, hotels, and vacation rentals can be!
3. Find deals on third-party apps like Groupon for local eateries, events, and things to do.
If you think Groupon is soooo 2006, think again. We have found lots of great bargains for everything from breakfasts and lunches to downtown tours and scavenger hunts. Lots of family-friendly activities that you can search by location and sort by price. When I went to Chicago, I saved $15 per ticket when booking an architecture river cruise. Bingo!
4. Never underestimate the Visitor’s Bureau.
These places exist solely for your benefit! I like to sign up for promotional emails from “Visit XYZ” when I start planning a trip. If you get enough emails already, you can check out online community calendars and the “Visit XYZ” website and social media pages for local events and discounts. If you’re staying in a hotel, ask the concierge if the hotel offers discounted activities simply for being a guest at that hotel.