We’re still 2 weeks away from Easter, so it may seem odd to suggest that this is an ideal time to start planning for your family’s summer vacation. However, there are significant advantages you’re likely to enjoy later this year, if your preparation begins now.
If long-distance travel is in your future, use your current flexibility to plan air travel that gets better rates. Midweek days and Saturdays are often lower-priced. You can use online services like Hopper and DealRay (among others) to guide you to the best, most affordable airline opportunities. In some resort areas, bundling airfare, accommodations and rental cars can lead to significant price reductions as well. If you’re travelling a good distance, consider consolidating destinations. Orlando can be a good starting point for travel to Tampa-St. Petersburg or Cape Canaveral attractions, for example.
Of course, most families are budget-conscious to a degree and closer to home options are worth planning in advance as well. One good way of doing so is with establishing a “one tank limit plan.” Calculate the amount of mileage you can cover on a tank of gas and scour that area for attractions. It’s a great way to hold down costs by reducing transportation expenses and possibly accommodations as well. There’s an added bonus to consider. You may wind up discovering close-by landmarks that you’ll want visit again and again.
Another money-saving idea to consider is a multiple-day or season’s pass. Amusement parks and other leading attractions such as Colonial Williamsburg, offer significant discounts for repeat visitors. The National Park Service has an annual pass program that provides access to over 2,000 destinations for $80/year.
You’d be surprised at the number of attractions that offer discounted tickets or free activities, particularly at the beginning or end of the summer season. Convention and travel bureaus in the areas you plan to visit are often great resources. They can help you find fun experiences on an affordable budget that are a good fit for your specific family. They are also often aware of discounts and special offers.
Perhaps you’re one of those families that hasn’t taken full advantage of your close proximity to the North Carolina mountains or beaches. Maybe this is the year to do so. And finally, one last budget-saving thought (depending on the age of your kids) is the possibility of train travel. Look for attractions in cities that are easily reached by train in a few hours. You can benefit from the relaxing ride and novel form of travel, and be refreshed when you reach your destination.