Last month, I told you some basic things that you could do to save money on food without using coupons and apps and such. I told you that this month I would give you some ideas to do the same on your summer travels.
Now, this one may take a little more effort than just ordering water at dinner and taking your lunch to work. But, it’s still fairly simple ideas that can save you lots of money.
Consider the Season
When you are traveling, you need to consider when “peak season” is in your destination. Especially if you plan to travel in the spring. Some places consider the week of Easter as their spring break. Others, not so much. For example, Disney World’s “Spring Break” – and you just read that as “price jump and crowd increase” – began the Saturday after Mardi Gras. So, the week that we here in NOLA are out of school for Mardi Gras, was still a much lower rate than the folks traveling just one week later would have paid. Plus, while Disney is never really desolate, spring break is a time when they may actually start turning people away due to the park being at maximum capacity. Can I just tell you that I would keel over in the parking lot if I had spent all that time and money, done all that planning, and then couldn’t get in because it was full?!
We went to Branson, Missouri this April. We left Monday after Easter when my kids were on their spring break from school. If you are not familiar, this is a tourist area in the Ozark mountains. The theme and feel of the town is very similar to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. We had no trouble booking a great room, and while I knew that their spring break celebrations were the week BEFORE Easter, I didn’t realize just how different the two weeks would be.
I had followed several Twitter and Instagram pages and knew that the town was packed. But, when we arrived at Silver Dollar City, which is a pretty big amusement park, you could almost hear crickets! We rode some rides back to back 3 times. My son rode his favorite roller coaster SEVEN times. The last time, he was completely alone on the train. He is 8 and he rode a roller coaster…an indoor roller coaster…with dark rooms…alone. It was an amazing day as we spent very little time waiting for anything and did whatever they wanted as many times as they wanted. Fabulous!
The same goes for summer. Different states classify the “summer season” in different ways. Many resorts along our beautiful Gulf Coast only want Saturday to Saturday renters. Others have their rates drop by the double digits of August. While Memorial Day is traditionally the start of summer, the rates may not go up until the kids are out of school in that area. So, just be aware that it’s different anywhere you go, and if you have the option, go when the rates are down.
Do a quick Google search
Before you head out, take 5 minutes and search for restaurants in the area where kids eat free. Many tourist towns may not offer this, but if it’s a national chain that typically does have this type of promotion, you may get lucky. Always, always call and check before heading out! I received an email from Applebees the week before we went to Missouri with a kids eat free coupon. I called the local Applebees when we got to Branson, and they did not participate in those promotons. Sure, I was disappointed, but I kind of expected that. But, you could search for a mommy blog in the area and see if the have a list. Search terms like “Kids Eat Free” + “Your vacation destination” and see what comes up. You may get lucky and save a few bucks. On our Branson trip, we found a place where kids eat free every day! Plus, they offered all you can eat chicken tenders one day, fried catfish another…and it was NOT A CHAIN! So everything was homemade, fresh and delicious! Plus, they had amazing fried pies and ice cream for dessert. With the kids eating free, of course, we had to have a pie!
Look for coupon books in your hotel
You don’t have to plan ahead as much for this one, but you do have to use a coupon. As a general rule, if you are in a tourist location, there will be several coupon books in the hotel lobby. They are there for a reason: for you to use them! The companies that you want to patronize, yep, they paid to put those coupons in that book so that you would use them and come visit! So, don’t feel bad or cheap because you can save $20 for your family to get into a water park! No worries! They will get that $20 back when you buy a hot dog or two.
Now, if you DO have some time to research and “coupon,” then I suggest searching Restaurant.com, Groupon, Living Social and those types of sites for your destination area. I have seen deals in all 3 on Disney property, near the beaches, the mountains, and everywhere in between. They all have apps, too. So, even if you do your research on the ride….it could save you a good bit!
Do you have any tips to share for saving money on vacation?
About Northshore Mama
Kari, born and raised on the Northshore, began Northshore Mama after her family experienced a couple of rough financial years. Kari shares the tips and tricks to maneuvering each store’s different marketing of their sales, as well as introducing her readers to various programs and websites where she earns free stuff every day. Northshore Mama’s mission is to bring you the coupon deals and show you how to match them up with each store’s weekly sales to get the most bang for your buck!