Sometimes April is called the month of fools, but you don't have to be foolish with vacation spending to still have fun. Summer is going to be here before we know it. Can you say, “I need a vacation”! This months tip is about vacationing wisely. I want to share a few travel tips in hopes that you would enjoy your journey without loosing your purse. I learned a long time ago that preparing ahead of time is one of the greatest tools for saving money on vacations. The little travel tips I'm sharing in this month's blog have come in handy over and over again for us. They can save you money and provide opportunities for family fun at the same time!
There's a free membership opportunity at a site called Groupon. It's free to join. Go out to Groupon.com and put in your email address. Once you register, you can choose the notification options for your account. Choose wisely if you want to limit the emails. Soon, you'll begin receiving email updates about events, restaurants, and entertainment available at discounted prices in your resident city. The great news is the discounts don't have to stop there.
Did you know that whenever you are about to take a trip you can go into your Groupon account and actually change your location of residence to the city you're about to visit or simply add another city to your account? By doing so, you will begin receiving emails about things to do in your get-away city. Then you can purchase groupons for activities and food for your trip to use once you get there. Doing it 2-3 weeks before you travel will give you time to evaluate some things and decide which activities will fit your family and travel time best. We've taken pirate cruises, visited orange groves in Florida, caught shows we would have otherwise missed, and saved money on restaurants, while making our trip a whole lot more enjoyable by not breaking the bank.
Recently, my husband and I were headed out of town for our 26th wedding anniversary to Niagara Falls, Canada. I went out and added this city to my account. Soon the discount opportunities started rolling in. I found a great deal on two IMAX theater tickets which came with the bonus of a $50 dinner voucher to Ruth Chris Steak House. Since it was our anniversary and this particular restaurant is very pricey and only for special occasions, we had our anniversary dinner planned. What a deal!
Here's another tip. Sometimes you can purchase the same event in two separate cities or countries for more savings due to currency exchange. For example, since we were headed into Canada, I took advantage of the exchange rate. I could actually purchase the same tickets through Niagara, NY or Niagara, Canada. The tickets were less in Canada due to currency exchange and I saved eight more dollars on the same groupon.
If you're looking for a discount in lodging for your stay, search Groupon Getaways on the site. It can be overwhelming so be sure and choose a region of travel on the left side of the screen before your search. Set your budget price per night before looking, then you'll know which locations might work best. If you can't afford a week long vacation embrace just two or three days away as a family. Travel closer to home so you'll have less time in a car, but travel. A short get away can do wonders for your family relationships.
A few years ago, we really wanted to go out west to snow ski. Lodging can be very pricey. Fortunately we found a Groupon for lodging in Montana. We purchased three two-night groupon getaways for the Rainbow Lodge. The problem was we were traveling for nine days instead of six. The travel section usually limits how many nights or groupons you can purchase for one stay. As a result of a loop hole in the system, we were able to turn around and purchase three more one-night getaways from the same groupon to cover all the days of our stay. The trip was incredible and didn't break the bank.
One last note of advice. Before booking a hotel or resort with a get-away, go out to a site called Trip Advisor. You can search the name of the place you are considering staying and see what reviews say about that location. Sometimes the location could be offering a Groupon due to problems, but many times it's a new owner, a remodel, or just about getting the word out about a great place to stay. Our stay in Montana couldn't have been more incredible.
Trip Advisor has professional photos of the location as well as photos by people who have stayed there along with their reviews. Don't write the location off for one or two bad reviews... you can't please all the people all the time. Weigh out the information carefully. Verify the dates of the reviews to make sure they are recent. Sometimes a bad review can be from a year ago and there's been positive changes since then. You can always call the location directly and ask questions before booking. Make sure to verify that the Groupon price is a good deal by checking the site of the location directly for their prices first.
The four most important tips for a great vacation season are:
1. Set a budget before planning.
2. Don't over plan activities or you'll miss out on intimate family time and conversation.
3. Leave your cell phones in the car or you'll fail to reconnect while you're away.
4. Have fun!