Who says travel can't be fun anymore? For me, half the adventure is looking online for the next great place to travel to with my family. I find, for my 12-year-old who has a learning disability, that exploring different cultures, historical locations, and different species of mammals or fish, he retains a lot more of the information and it motivates him to stay focused on his schooling when we get back. I also love to travel with my kids because they are anxious to try new things and make new discoveries almost anywhere. But the trick is figuring out how to get there...
My Travel Strategy - Low Price, Direct Flight
If it's going to take a whole day to get somewhere that is four hours away due to multiple airports with layovers then it isn’t worth it. We would lose two days out of the seven day holiday in airports. If we can’t find a good flight then we explore the next location that we would like to travel to.
Flights - Where I Look First
A few of the places that I check out for the best rates are:
Airlines- Jetblue.com, Spirit.com
Holiday travel airlines- Sunwing.ca or AirTransat.ca, most of these vacation airlines offer direct flights.
Airports – small airports on the US side
If you can fly out of smaller airports on the US side, you can potentially save a lot on airport taxes and parking. Unfortunately on one occasion this backfired, when we were heading south flying out of Buffalo and they cancelled the flight due to bad weather in New York. We had already checked in to the hotel as the departure was early the next morning. It was a drag, we had to turn around and head home and then return 2 days later to catch the flight. Fortunately I had a 2 week vacation planned so it wasn’t too bad.
Where to Stay- Hotel or House?
You can book your hotel with the sites above and you generally get a better deal if you book them with your flight. But when it comes to accommodations, here's my super favourite travel secret. Book a house or condo with a kitchen. I prefer to not eat out every meal and I like to shop, eat and experience the local culture. I find that being confined to the resort - especially and all inclusive - that I really don’t experience the island or the locals. I went to Costa Rica during March break and was able to rent a four bedroom house with four bathrooms and a pool for just $1280 a week. The house I found was on Homeaway.com (also check VRBO.com). There are customer reviews, pictures,videos, maps etc. and you contact the owner of the house to enquire about renting it. You have to pay a % down to the owner and the remaining prior to arriving. The website even has a basic or carefree rental insurance plan if you are nervous about booking. I've rented twice from this site and dealt with the owners without any problems. I've asked for more pictures or more information about the surrounding area and the owners were extremely helpful.
Tripadvisor.com is also a great site for customer reviews about destinations, hotels, restaurants, excursions and their rates. If you're looking for a way to explore the world but not pay through the nose, let your fingers do the walking through the web.
Let me know if you have any great tricks for saving money while traveling!