I often get asked the same questions both on my radio show and on TV, about the best ways to save money when traveling.
Here are a few of my most common, recent questions and what I tell my listeners and viewers:
The author and her family
vacationing in Seattle
What are some tricks to finding the best family travel deals?
Be resourceful. Look at different media and use a combination of sources:
guidebooks, internet, newspapers.
If you are cruising or traveling to an exceptionally popular destination,
consider traveling in the fall or on the cusp of a season, when rates tend
to me lower.
Be willing to cruise at the last minute, when fares are sometimes the lowest
and from a drivable embarkation port.
Consider shorter, less expensive cruise itineraries of under a week where
you can travel for less per day than it costs to stay home.
Also Carnival offers a new pricing promotion called Early Saver with a price
protection feature so if the price drops, you are provided a cruise credit.
What are some ways families can travel on a shoestring or even for free?
We enjoy taking in local events which tend to be very inexpensive…things like
local fund raising dinners, local fairs, crab feeds, swap meets or flea
markets, free outdoor concerts and festivals. These are great places to pick
up local art for pennies on the dollar, and an opportunity to eat local
food, and to meet and mingle with locals who offer great tips and
suggestions. You really get a feeling for an area by doing what the locals do and
it tends to cost a lot less than the typical packaged tourist activities.
From a shoestring perspective, consider hiking, camping, bicycling, and
kayaking for sightseeing.
Also get away from the big cities. For example when visiting San Antonio or
Austin many tourists might miss magical Sequin, Texas about an hour a way
and far more affordable. Or visitors to Montana might make the mistake
of staying in the bigger cities and miss the true gem of Red Rodge or some
of the real historic working guest ranches like the Runamuk in Roundup.
The real gems are often outside of the cities and are usually less expensive
than big city destinations.
On a separate note, individuals or families can literally travel for free to
Europe by teaching conversational English to the locals for one week,
What are some tips for planning the perfect family vacation?
Much like writing a book or a story, create a theme for your trip. Plan your
trip around one or two preferred activities or interests that will be the
main thread or theme of your trip…such as golfing, tennis, theme parks,
museums, sailing, kayaking. Make those activities the focal point for
planning your trip or destination and then build from there.
Let your children have an active role or contribution towards the planning process.
Is there a best time to lock in cheap airfare?
The sooner the better; more than two months in advance if possible. But some
carriers offer services where you can sign up for alerts (even last minute)
on specials from your home airport
What are some of the top destinations for US travel?
For domestic travel, familiar places like Southern California, Lake Tahoe,
Orlando, Las Vegas, the Canyonlands of Utah and Arizona, New Orleans,
Alaska, Washington DC, Hawaii, New York, The Florida Keys, still tend to be
But it’s so important to remember the less commercialized yet spectacular
spots like Sedona, San Antonio, Galveston,
Golden Islands of Georgia, Carolina Low country, The Badlands and Dakotas,
Wyoming and Montana and theirs outstanding guest ranches, and the Creole
Nature Trail of Louisiana, just to name a few.
What are some of the top destinations for international family travel?
Outside of the continental US, the Caribbean, The West Indies, The Bahamas,
Mexico, Spain, and Italy continue to be very popular.
What are some of the travel trends emerging/that you
Airlines seem to be expanding and lots of new flights and non-stops are
Cruise prices are rock bottom and most major cruise lines are adding new
ships and new itineraries. Multi-generational travel and cruising is hotter
Due to the stresses of the economy and the growing trend towards health
consciousness, more destinations are adding full spas, and restaurants,
hotels, and resorts at major destinations are making a move toward healthy,
local, and sustainable food choices.