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Travel Tips and Help
My husband and I spent about 2 years traveling all over when he first retired 15 years ago. We went to Jamaica twice, Bahamas, cruises all over the Caribbean, Cancun, Alaska, Nevada, Florida, Myrtle Beach, and more. So I wanted to share some ways I have found that help save you money and time, plus just makes the trip better for everyone.
- Decide on where you are going. If you are not committed to going a certain places, then start looking for deals. If you want to be on the ocean then look all around the coast. Something that is closer can save you on airfare and still give you a great vacation. Now since adopting Desiree, and having the grandkids travel with us, we try to stay on the eastern part of the U.S. There are lots of deals you can get for more than one place along the coast.
2. Now you found someplace everyone agrees on. This is when you decide do you want to fly or could you save money by driving? There are benefits to each. Look up the airfare for all the people going, then figure out how much the gas would be to drive, also figure in you may need a hotel for on the way and the way back and a rental car while there.
A. Driving – You can take your time and stop at other places, or to see friends and relatives. If you go shopping while on vacation you do not have to worry about extra fees. No need to rent a car. You can take things you need such as shampoo and not worry about only taking a certain amount. You can also take food for sandwiches for on the road or during vacation for a quick bite.
B. Flying – Price is set and prepaid. At your vacation spot earlier and can stay longer. No one gets bored like they do in the car. Can be cheaper if you find the right deal or only a couple of people are going. May need to pay for parking. May need a rental car.
3. Now you have decided how you will get there now lets see where you want to stay. Hotel, rental home or condo, or with friends or relatives. Before you decide it is worth your time to do some research.
A. Hotel – Can be cramped, depending on number of people. Usually easy to find and close to things you will need. Depending on hotel there may be a restaurant on the premises. A lot of them include some type of breakfast, but not always, verify before you book. This will save you money on eating out for breakfast. This one is also easy to secure and pay for. Also probably the easiest to compare prices.
B. Rental home or condo – This is my favorite! You have lots of room. Some condos or homes can sleep a lot of people so the price can be split with others that are going. You can get a variety of places to stay, oceanfront, oceanview, golf course, etc. A lot of the condos have pools. You can bring food in and cook to save money on eating out 3 times a day. Bring your favorite pillow or anything else, this is your home for the time of rental. If something breaks down, like the dishwasher, you call and someone comes to fix it. This can be cheaper than a hotel. There are lots of companies that do the rentals so you can be sure you are not getting ripped off, be very careful doing deals without the right company. Now the downfalls – You can end up with a not-so-great rental. You will pay a deposit that you get back, but that is still money you need upfront. You will need to verify the total cost closely because they add service charges, cleaning fees, etc. Most need you to bring your own linens and towels or pay a rather high rental fee. Some take credit cards but not all.
C. Staying with friends or family – You may feel committed to do what they want to do. Depending on how much room they have someone could end up sleeping some place uncomfortable. You will need to go by their schedules for coming and going. It can save you money. Gives you a great chance to visit and may bring you closer, could do the opposite.
4. Now you have your place to stay, let’s see what there is to do. Almost every site you go to for prices on air, hotel, car, etc., has a section with some ideas of what to do, see, and more. This can be a great place to start. You cannot do everything but as a family you can decide what everyone would like to do.
A. Spend some time looking up what there is to do. Take the time to order travel guides, most take about 7 days to arrive. Print out some information the people who are traveling together can look at. Look for a variety of things, everything does not have to cost money. Try some special beaches, go to flea markets or farmers markets, go to a local grocery store – I can guarantee you will find something unique in the meat department that you do not see everyday. Plan on spending the first day just relaxing and not overdoing it. Look up the chamber of commerce and find information about the activities. Also look for reviews on everything you spend money on, hotel, restaurant, car rentals, and activities. Do a search of the city and find some hidden secrets most tourists do not find.
B. Make a schedule of what everyone would like to do and see if it is even possible to get it all in. Only plan 1 big thing a day, this will help with costs also. What do you need special to bring with you to do this activity, can you rent what is needed, do you prefer to use your own and will it fit into the suitcase. Do not try to get to everything because it will just cause stress they you are trying to get rid of.
C. Now start searching if you can book online and save money by booking early. Somethings you will not find discounts, for example: Disneyland. Some places say they can give you a discount if you go to a timeshare promotion, I do not recommend this unless you are already interested. Some places have discounts online, and coupons to use when you get there.
5. We can now find ways to save on eating out. Again you will find some of this information when you are looking for activities. If you like seafood, or another type of food, make for sure that is on your list for at least once. Go to Restaurants.com, a lot of times you can spend a couple of dollars for coupons for b1g1 or a percent off. If you do not use them when you come back you can exchange your certificate for some place local. I like to get a variety of places that serve different types of food. These will be harder to find, not all, but this might be a great way to see the surrounding area. You can put in a zip code and within how many miles so you will know how far you will drive. This is a great way to save money and find new and interesting places. There are also lots of places that you can get coupons for restaurants.
I have different affiliate links for you to take a look for yourself for most of the information listed above.
Groupon does have travel deals. Compare prices before you book anywhere.
Above you can order travel guides for your next vacation for free.
Travel Insurance – This is up to each person, whether they think they need it. I always bought it when going on a cruise or to another country. I do not want to post horror stories I have read, but just remember other countries do not take our insurance plans, and cruise ships are in international waters so they do not either.
Let’s put this all together. Get a folder, or I recommend a binder with clear sheets to put papers in. The front or the back will have your tickets, reservation information, phone numbers, car rental information, anything you may need to get there and get settled. A map would be great if you have one.
Next should be information about where you are staying. You can look at it and share so everyone can read it more carefully than they would have the first time. This is just for information no reservation information is here because you do not want to lose that information.
The next section will be things to do, places to see. Everyone can get familiar with all the information so they will know what to expect.
The next section will be coupons, discounts, travel guides, and all the information you found. I always add one more sections with places to eat and any discounts you found.
Another quick tip is to pack extra medicine that you take daily just in case you get delayed. I also carry any medication with me on flights.
Let me know below any comments, questions, tips you have.