Want to travel more often?
This time last year, my husband and I were trying to decide what we wanted to do for summer vacation with our family. Vacation expenses add up quickly and we wanted to maximize our spending dollars.
One night I found a sale fare to San Diego that couldn't be beat. We quickly snagged those tickets and started planning what became a wonderful, relaxing vacation.
Here are my tips for letting the destination choose you and then enjoying every minute of it.
Search Deals, Not Destinations
Don't lock yourself into a destination. Make a list of places you'd like to go over the next few months or years. Many airlines and booking sites will let you set alerts to notify you of sale fares to those destinations.
I follow @flightsfromhome on Instagram. She usually posts 3-5 fare alerts each week! Amazing destinations at discounted fares with all the instructions on where to find the fare. This is how we found our tickets to San Diego from Salt Lake City for only $112 a person round trip!
This resource is specific to Salt Lake City, but there are resources like this in many places. Google Flights is a handy way to search fares all over the world. Groupon and Travelzoo are well-established sites for travel deals. Paid services like NextVacay.com (which we haven't tried yet) will do the searching for you and send you the deals.
Don't Do it All
As a travel agent, I spoke with many families who wanted to do it all on their vacations. The price added up quickly and they would feel defeated and feel unable to take their trip.
So many times we try to do so much that we come home needing a vacation from our vacation. When we do less and spend less, we feel more relaxed.
You can save a lot of money and actually relax on your vacation if you focus on one or two major things and then fill the rest of your itinerary with free and inexpensive activities. Save the rest for another trip. Vacations are more affordable when we take shorter, smaller trips more often instead of just one large trip.
We decided to visit SeaWorld San Diego and take in some of the sights at Old Town San Diego. SeaWorld regularly offers ticket deals, and our SeaWorld ticket was good for 7 consecutive days in the park for the price of one. We took advantage of that and went on three different days! We enjoyed Sea World at a leisurely pace and saw and did everything. Our favorites we even hit twice!
We visited Old Town one morning to enjoy the historic area and do a little shopping. Our kids loved the candy shop best, and then we had a wonderful Mexican meal.
Another stop the kids loved was the Mormon Battalion Visitors Center. A fun, interactive museum with great hands-on activities for the kids to do and a free souvenir photo. This was a great activity and we stayed a lot longer than we had planned on.
Ask a Local
Ask your hotel staff for some ideas of what locals like to do. You can find some great activities, restaurants, and/or places to see this way. We drove over to Coronado Island and found a wonderful beach. The weather was overcast and chilly, but the sand was perfect. We found a great ice cream place to enjoy dessert and enjoyed a relaxing evening away from crowds.
One tradition we have is to find an off-the-wall pizza place on our vacations. Our girls love it and we've found some delicious pizza in many different places.
Take Advantage of Hotel Amenities
Book a hotel with a pool. It'll be your kids' favorite part of the trip. If your hotel offers a breakfast like ours did, that is an easy way to save money to use on other activities throughout the day.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Hotel Circle. The pool was wonderful, breakfast was included daily, and the room was very comfortable for our family. We booked our hotel and SeaWorld tickets in an affordable package through Get Away Today Vacations, which was another easy way to save money.
We have a lot of great memories from our San Diego trip. Since this trip cost a lot less than it could have, we look forward to making more vacation memories before long!
Don't lock yourself into a specific vacation and then wait for it to work out. Be open to wherever the deals take you, and you can travel more often on a limited budget.