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Now onto the travel hacks…
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When you visit at theme park on your vacation, you are adding a huge extra expense. You are adding those expensive theme park tickets. You can still save money on a theme park vacation. Here are some of our favorite ways to save money at the theme parks.
#1 Character Dining for Breakfast: If you are planning a character dining at one of the many theme parks across the country, you will want to schedule a breakfast vs lunch or dinner. The breakfast character dining is always less expensive.
#2 Split Meals: This tip works for other destinations, but is very true for theme parks. Most theme parks have huge meals for adults. In our family, my daughter and I almost always split a meal. That way we are not stuffed, we do not waste food, and we save a little money!
#3 Disney Tickets: I am asked about cheap tickets to Disney World, almost daily. I created a whole guide to all of the ways you can get cheap or even free tickets to Disney World in Orlando. Click here to check out that guide. One of the easiest ways to save money on Disney World tickets (I mean super easy and time saving) is pre-ordering them from a Disney ticket wholesaler. We love Official Ticket Center and have been working with them for over 10 years. They are locally based in Orlando. You purchase your discount ticket online and show up at the park. It is that simple and will save you some dollars! Click here to visit Official Ticket Center.
If you are traveling to Universal Orlando Resort to see Harry Potter or to Thailand, here are some travel hacks that will help you save money on your vacation. Some of these hacks can save you hundreds of dollars on your trip.
#4 International Travel Ask the Locals for Attractions & Must See’s: Be sure you take a few minutes during your vacation and ask the locals for their favorite attractions and must see’s. You may find some hidden treasures and some less expensive attractions, off the beaten path. One of my favorite people to ask are Uber or taxi drivers. You can get a wealth of information from them!
#5 Shift Your Hotel Dates: Did you know you could save hundreds of dollars on your hotel by just changing your dates by one night or two? There are different seasons throughout the year, which causes hotels to change their rates. One of the biggest is the Holiday season from December 24-January 1. Sometimes by changing your arrival date to December 23 vs 24, you can save 50% off your hotel. It is crazy! Be sure you always check on shifting your dates to see if you can save money.
#6 Extra Mini Vacation: Did you know that most airlines will let you extend your layover at a connection by a few days? My daughter and I were planning a trip to Disneyland in CA. For our flight, we had a connection in Seattle. We love Seattle, so decided to extend our stay by a couple days in Seattle and took the same flight a few days later. Instead of a few hours layover in Seattle, it was a few days layover. It was the exact same cost. I was able to add an extra mini vacation for no additional airline tickets.
#7 Search Incognito: When searching for flights or travel online, be sure you go “invisible.” My favorite is going incognito on my computer. That way, your search history does not affect the prices that may pop up from the wholesalers. This is especially true for airlines.
#8 Travel Off Season: You can save a lot of money by traveling off season. We took a trip to Italy during and off season. We saved a ton of money on our hotel and even attractions. There were also smaller crowds, which was a plus. The only downside is not everything may be open. You will want to double check before booking.
#9 Upgrade to Concierge: You may think upgrading to a Club or Concierge room is out of your budget. You may be surprised! One of my favorite hotels on the Big Island of Hawaii is the Fairmont. Did you know to upgrade to a Club Room is only $50 more per night? In the Club Room, you get access to the Club Lounge. This includes breakfast, afternoon snacks, beverages (all day long), and cocktail hour in the evening. In Hawaii, you will pay $50 for breakfast alone. You can easily save $125 a day on food and drinks, especially with a family.
#10 Pick the Right Destinations for Your Budget: You may want to visit Disney World, but Disneyland may be more within your budget. Always do some research to find a destination that fits your budget.
#11 Compare Nearby Airports: Many bigger cities have multiple airports and even airports within 30 minutes-1 hour. Double check pricing at all of the nearby airports. You may be surprised how much you can save at a nearby airport.
#12 Get Free Rooms with House Sitting: Did you know that you can get free accommodations to watch a house or pets? Besides airfare, the hotel/room accommodations are the second most expensive part of any trip. You can watch someone’s house or pets and stay in their home for free. One of our favorite sites is https://www.trustedhousesitters.com.
#13 Try a Picnic: Stop by a local grocery and pick up a picnic. I love getting picnics and then heading to a beach. One of my favorite picnic location while traveling was on the Big Island in Hawaii. I enjoyed my picnic lunch while watching sea turtles on the beach. It was amazing!
#14 Check out Vacation Homes: For longer vacations, check into vacation home rentals. You can usually find some amazing homes for a month for less than the price of a hotel for two weeks. We have used several different vacation homes over the years and our favorite is still Airbnb. Click here to save $40 off your 1st rental with Airbnb!
#15 Never Pay Rack Rate: When you call a reservation center or hotel, the initial cost they will give you is called rack rate. You (as the customer) have to always ask for the best price. They will not give it to you automatically. You have to ask for it.
#16 Never Just Show Up at a Hotel: Many guests do not pre-book a hotel. They will just show up. You will always pay a premium rate if you walk up to the front desk and you also run that risk that they will not have any availability. I have actually sat in my car in the hotel parking lot and booked a hotel online, before walking into the hotel. When checking the price with the front desk, I saved $50 by just booking my hotel in the car vs walking in the door.
#17 Early Bird Specials: I always thought Early Bird Specials were for the elderly. NOPE! They are for everyone. You can get a steak dinner for $12 by dining at 4 PM vs $19 by dining at 6 PM. Learn the restaurants near you that offer Early Bird Specials and take advantage of them.
#18 Book with a Travel Agency: This is one of my favorite ways to save money when I travel. Using a travel agent is a service like using a real estate agent, doctor, or mechanic. They are professionals in travel! The great news is they are free. They are paid by the destination or supplier to help you book your trip. Most travel agents do not book a quick 2 night stay in Las Vegas, but if you want a family trip to California, a bucket list vacation to Hawaii, or a relaxing cruise getaway; they can help you save money and get the most value for your vacation.
We use Destinations to Explore to book all of our travel. We work with Elizabeth and Erin. You can reach Elizabeth at email@example.com and Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org for your next vacation. Be sure you tell them Jones Family Travels referred you!
#19 Create a Packing List: You can waste a lot of money during your vacation on items you already own like camera batteries, chargers, etc. When you are planning your vacation, take a few minutes and create a packing list weeks before your vacation. You can then tweak it as you go. That way when it is time to actually pack, you will not forget anything.
#20 Groupons: Before heading to a city, I check Groupon to see if there are any deals. You can find some fun activities and attractions for a fraction of the price.
#21 Walk as Much as Possible: You can take a taxi or Uber, but you also may miss something amazing! Save some money and just walk. You never know what you may find.
#22 Pack a Priority Mail Box: When you travel, you will buy souvenirs! Make sure you have space for those souvenirs when you go home. You can buy another suitcase, but you will have to pay huge luggage fees with the airlines. OR, you can pack a Priority Mail Box from the USPS and pack that in your suitcase. When you load up your souvenirs, you can drop it off at the front desk to ship home. Your package will arrive home, right after you do. This is a great way to save a lot of money on your extra luggage fees or heavy luggage fees.
#23 Pack an Extra Suitcase: Another way we like to save money is by packing a suitcase with only snacks. This suitcase can include popcorn, granola bars, breakfast bars or cereal, peanut butter/jelly, and bagels or bread. You can then enjoy these snacks during your vacation, because you know the kids will be hungry (all of the time.) Then your suitcase will be empty for souvenirs for your trip home.
#24 Buy Souvenirs Online Before You Leave Home: One of the fun part of any vacation is souvenirs. For kids, you can buy souvenirs (for a lot less money) before you leave home. You can then leave the souvenirs by their bed or give it to them as a reward for good behavior after your day. To give you an idea of savings…princess dresses are $45 at the Disney Store online and $75 at the Disney Parks when you arrive.
#25 Double Check Car Seat Requirements: In some areas, you may be required to have or rent a car seat for kids. You will want to double check the laws in the city you are visiting. We took a trip to California and realized we needed a car seat. The car rental company was outrageous for a car seat rental. We went to Walmart and bought one for 75% of the cost. It could have been free if we remember to bring ours from home.
#26 Fill Up Before Returning the Car: It can be a hassle to stop to fill up the rental car, before returning it. However, it can save you a lot of money! Take a few minutes and refill the car, before you head back to the car rental company.
#27 Museum & Park Free Days: Double check to see if any local attractions or museums offer any free days. Most museums do and even parks. I remember years ago, even Disney World offered a day at Magic Kingdom that was free.
#28 Fly Mid Week: If you are flexible, flights are always less expensive Tuesday-Thursday.
#29 Shift Days for Flights: Sometimes adjusting your arrival and departure dates for airfare can save you hundreds of dollars. Double check the dates to see if you can save a little extra money.
#30 Sign Up for Hotel Reward Programs: Once we book a hotel, we normally go to their website and sign up for their hotel reward programs. You can get in room gifts, extra perks, and freebies; for just signing up for their reward programs. One of my favorites is the Loew’s Hotels. We use internet everywhere we go, even if we have to pay for it. When we sign up for Loew’s Hotels, we get free internet. That saves us $20 a day for just signing up for their rewards program.
#31 Shared Uber: In NYC, we love using the shared Uber. It is a lot less expensive and always fun to meet new people.
#32 Gotta LOVE Amazon: Did you know you can order waters, snacks, diapers, and more from Amazon and have it shipped right to your hotel or resort? It makes is so easy and you will save money!
The Jones Family loves to cruise! We love the relaxing vacation with a little adventure. Cruises are the perfect way to experience that on your vacation. However, they are also quite expensive because they are an all inclusive experience. Here are some of my favorite travel hacks for cruises.
#33 Book Excursions Outside of Cruise Lines: You will save a little money by booking your excursions outside of the cruise lines. All cruise lines offer an opportunity to book their excursions. Actually, they do not run these excursions. They are run by outside suppliers. However, they do get a “cut” on your excursion which bring the price up for the consumer. If you book with an outside supplier or directly with the supplier, you will save some money.
#34 Bring Your Own Alcohol: If you want to save some money on alcohol, bring your own during your next cruise. You will want to double check with the cruise line and port, but many of the cruise lines and ports allow you to bring a bottle of wine or even two. Be sure you bring a cork or you will be paying for an expensive corking fee. This is a great way to save money on alcohol during your next cruise.
#35 Drink Tea & Water: Many cruise lines do not include sodas. They include water, lemonade, and tea with the cost of your cruise. Sodas are extra. Getting sodas with tips from the bartender or getting a refillable mug can add up quickly. Just enjoy the drinks they provide you!
#36 Spa Days During Cruise Port Days: If you want to enjoy a day at the spa during your cruise, do it on an off day. The off days are the days in port. Most families get off the ship in port. With this in mind, the spas normally offer specials during the days you are in port.
#37 Day Pass for Spas: One of my favorite relaxing activities on a cruise is the day pass. Disney Cruise has one of the best called the Rainforest Day Pass. It is very inexpensive to enjoy rainforest showers, scrubs, heated lounge chairs, saunas, and hot tubs with a spectacular view.
#38 Book Early: With cruises, the price goes up the more booked the cruise ship gets. With this in mind, you will get the best deal as soon as the rates for the year are released. Book early!
#39 Keep Checking on Discounts: If you book early, that may be the best deal or it may not. Most cruise lines offer discounts throughout the year; including short term promotions, resident discounts, senior citizen discounts, and more. You will want to continuously watch the cruise line for new discounts. When a new discount is released, you can call the cruise line and have them update your reservation to the new discount. This one tip alone will save you hundreds to thousands on your cruise.
#40 Turn Off Your Phone: If you do not want a $2000 bill after your cruise, be sure you turn off your phone or put it on airplane mode. We usually put our phones on roaming, so we can still use the ship apps. For example, Disney Cruise Line has a fantastic app that allows you to communicate with the kids on board the ships. Just be sure you have that airplane mode on!
When I travel, I love the locals and FOOD! You can save a lot of money on a vacation with food and dining hacks. These are always some of the best ways The Jones Family saves money on a vacation. Here are some of my favorites…
#41 Eat Outside the Tourist Bubble: There really is a tourist bubble in most cities. You pay higher prices on food, sodas, alcoholic beverages, and even taxes. If you find out where the tourist bubble ends, you can go right outside that area to find some local favorites and they are usually a lot less expensive.
#42 Try out Linner: In our family, we love “linner.” This is a late lunch/early dinner – right around 3-4. Eating this late, can combine your lunch and dinner. This is such a great way to save money during your vacation.
#43 Enjoy a Big Breakfast: We do like a healthy and hearty breakfast. When we get eggs, bacon, and sausage for breakfast; this normally ties us over until late into the afternoon. Having a hearty breakfast is a great way to save money. A big breakfast with a few afternoon snacks can tie you over until dinner.
When you travel internationally, things are just different! You can waste a lot of money, if you are not prepared. Here are some of my favorite travel hacks when you are traveling internationally.
#44 Use ATM’s: When traveling (especially internationally) take advantage of the local ATM’s. They give you great rates, but you will have to pay transaction fees – so keep that in mind.
#45 Barter Everything: Do not be afraid to negotiate! I even negotiate in the United States. You can negotiate everything, especially if you are paying cash vs credit/debit cards. They may say no, but at least you tried!
#46 Do NOT Over Tip: In America, we tip really really high. If you go outside the United States or even take a cruise, you may feel the need to tip at 15-25%. For other countries, that is a huge tip. Double check the tipping in the country you will visit to make sure you are not over tipping.
#47 Skype: Did you know you can Skype around the world for free? It is a cheap way to keep in touch with your family and friends at home.
#48 Download Movies to Your Smart Devices: Before you leave home, download a bunch of movies to your smart devices. Then you will have movies to watch during your travels. On our trip to Peru, almost all of the hotels did not have television. The ones that did only had a few channels. We ended up watching our own entertainment on our computers.
#49 Find Free WIFI Spots: If your hotel charges for wifi, find a local coffee shop or restaurant that has free wifi. You can upload pictures and chat with family, while enjoying your meal.
#50 Get Currency from Your Bank: Before you leave home, buy some currency from your local bank. This will save you some stress of trying to get currency during your trip and it will save you money from trying to exchange at the airport.
Be sure you subscribe to Jones Family Travels on YouTube, so you can learn more travel hacks. We hope our travel tips help you get out there and plan an adventure! Where do you want to go next? Leave a comment and share your next big adventure.