By Alison Lever
How I Save Big Money on Plane Tickets for the Family
Tho cost of flights for a family can be extremely expensive. I have found some great ways to save a lot of money when booking plane tickets. I start my research early for flight prices. I play around with the dates in the online booking tools to try to see how low the flight prices can go. I sign up for the airline’s email distribution list so that I know when the airlines are having a seat sale.
I look at the total price of the flights including tax when comparing costs. Most airlines offer a 25% discount off the base ticket price for children. Due to the fact that the taxes and surcharges may vary depending on the airline and flight path, I might get a better deal on a higher priced ticket that has lower taxes when I factor in the child discount.
Travelzoo is an excellent source for finding the best travel deals. Every week they email me a list of discounted flights, hotels and tours. I have gotten excellent information on cheap flights from Travelzoo such as tickets from Toronto to Lima, Peru for less than $400 including taxes. Travelzoo has different versions depending on where you reside.
I check out the cost of flying out of nearby cities. I live in Ottawa but its a four hour drive to Toronto. The cost of flying out of Toronto can be significantly less than flying out of Ottawa. I can save hundreds of dollars even when I factor in the cost of gas, parking and an overnight hotel.
Plane Ticket Savings
Regular price of ticket Toronto to Lima $896.00 including tax. My price was $396.00 taxes in for each person.
How I Save BIG Money on Accommodations
The cost of accommodations can be quite pricey for a family if you are looking at staying in a typical hotel room. I look for hostels to save money when I travel with my kids. A lot of hostels offer family rooms with ensuite bathrooms at prices significantly less than a hotel. Another option is a serviced apartment where you have access to a kitchen to cook in and lots of space to spread out in. This is usually much cheaper than paying for 2 hotel rooms. I also look for cheap accommodations that are centrally located so that I also save on local transportation.
Cost of the Beijing Swissotel for a family of 4 was $220.00 per night. Cost of the hostel I stayed in was $37.00 for a family room!
How I Save on Local Transportation
When traveling with my kids the cost of local transportation can really add up. I take public transportation whenever possible. If there is a subway at my destination then I use this to move around. My kids also have fun trying to navigate the subway. I try to always book a centrally located hotel close to public transport and close to markets, stores and restaurants.
Local Transportation Savings
The cost of a taxi from my Shanghai hotel to the Science and Technology Museum was $12.00 each way. Cost of the subway for my family of four was $2 each way.
How I Save Loads of Money on Tours and Attractions
I always look for free or low cost attractions for my kids and I to enjoy. We always head to a local park for a few hours. The kids have fun exploring the different playgrounds and usually end up making some new friends too. I always search for free activities, museums or festivals. Organized local tours can also drive up the cost of your family trip. On a recent family vacation to Negril Jamaica I wanted to visit YS Falls for the day. I managed to save quite a bit by hiring a driver for the day and paying our own entrance fee. It was also great to have the flexibility of having a driver as I was able to leave when the kids were tired and we were able to stop for a delicious jerk chicken meal along the way.
Savings on Tours
The cost of an organized tour for a family of 4: $270.00
The price of a taxi driver and entrance for 2 adults, 2 children $145.00
How I Save Money on Dining
The cost of eating on your vacation can take a big bite out of the family travel budget. There are lots of ways to save money on dining on your trips. For breakfast I head to a local grocery store and stock up on fruits, baked goods and cereal (I pack a couple dollar store bowls and spoons). I try to book hotel rooms with a mini fridge and stock up on drinks and snacks as well. I also try to eat where the locals eat. The food is usually cheaper and much tastier than at the inflated tourist restaurants.
Savings on Dining
Cost of the breakfast buffet at my hotel in Paris was $60.00. The cost of some fruit and pastries was $18.00 for the whole family.
Now with all the money I have saved I can go on another family trip!
There are many more ways to save BIG money on your family trips.
Alison Lever is a single mom who loves to travel and is always on the lookout for a great travel deal. She is co author of the family travel website http://www.family-travel-scoop.com. This site provides information on family friendly hotels, activities to do with the kids, and new foods to try in destinations around the world.
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See Also Parenting Articles by Dr. Randy Cale at www.TerrificParenting.com