7 Tips for a Great (and Cheap) Vacation ...

Whether for business or leisure, our family travels a lot and tips for a great vacation are always needed. Tips that make a vacation fantastic without breaking the bank are even better. No matter how much we vacation, it always seems like there are ways to save and those sneaky ways to splurge. These tips for a great vacation that do not break the bank are things we have learned over the past few years. Some of these have even made it possible to go on more trips throughout the year without changing the budget!

1. Always Ask

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As far as tips for a great vacation go, this one is probably the most obvious. Sadly, very few people ask about discounts and special offers. Discounts can come in all shapes and sizes and it's money that we could be leaving on the table. When booking your hotel, flight, or activities, always ask about current promotions and discounts they are offering. Do not forget about all those clubs you are a part of as well- places give reduced rates for teachers, veterans, AAA members, volunteers of certain organizations, and even people who bank with certain companies.

2. There's an App for That

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Yes, I just said that. As corn ball as that statement may sound, it is so true for saving money. Some of my favorite apps include Hotel Tonight for up to 60% hotel rooms, Living Social and Groupon for massive savings on activities and meals, GasBuddy for stations with the cheapest gas, Urbanspoon for food reviews and pricing, and Triposo for all-in-one trip planning. These are all great apps for saving money, but they are also fantastic ways of finding safe/incredible places to stay, eat, and play while on a trip.

3. Plan Flights Ahead

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Flights are such a fickle thing and, really, everyone seems to have their own trick for them. My trick is to start looking at flight prices up to six months in advance but not book until about one month ahead. This seems to get me the best prices but does not leave me stressing about schedules. The upside of this is that we save money, the downside is that we do not always get to sit together. If sitting together is a big deal, you may want to book at least six weeks ahead, depending on where you are going.

4. Become a Member

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There is a way to become a member for almost every hotel, airline, car service, and about a dozen chain restaurants. Members of these different services get anything from points you can use for free trips, free food, and promos to extra discounts. A great example of a membership perk is one we got this last year… We were able to use a promo and pay for one night at a three star hotel to get one night at a five star hotel for free. It was epic and wonderful, and we even got an upgraded suite at the five star hotel for being a member. Best. Thing. Ever.

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Although Uber is an app, it is not listed in the apps area because it deserves far more than that. This is the best travel app (pretty much) ever. With Uber, you can order different price ranges of driven cars (Town Cars to Mercedes) to either pick you up where you are, or at a set location. Uber drivers pick you up where you are treated to free water, then drop you off. No money is exchanged because the app has your credit card on file and charges you directly. Now, how does it save money? A recent study has shown UberX to be 10% less than taxis!

6. Use an Agent

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Some trips are fine for us to plan all on our lonesome, but others are better with help. If you are going on a big international trip or have no idea about the area you are visiting, use an agent. Travel agents may seem more expensive up front, but they will save you in both time and money in the end. Certain agencies also get great deals with hotels, restaurants, and local activities that you get to use. These can save you tons and make your trip a bit less risky.

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This little tip can count for more than just beer, but beer is a good thing to buy on your own as well. We recently were able to take a trip to Atlantis and this tip saved us at least $500. No joke. Resorts can be laughably (and by laughable I mean face in palm crying) expensive. Find a trusted and local grocery and get fresh fruit, bottled water, wine, and snack food from there. The food in your room can take care of breakfast and lunch so you do not have to fast for dinner. It may also help keep those extra travel lbs at bay.

There we are, seven ways to save some massive coinage on your next vacation. Trips can be expensive, hopefully these will help you save a bit on your next excursion. What are your favorite ways to save while traveling or staying home?

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