15 Ways to Save Money When you Fly on your Family Vacation this Summer

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A couple of days ago I posted the article: Ten Ways to Save Money on Your Family Road Trip This Summer.  In case you plan to fly on your family vacation here are some suggestions and tips for you.

I am assuming you are planning on taking a family vacation this summer.  I hope you’re planning on doing it with cash, but I suspect there is not much I can do to change your mind if you’re not. So my ultimate goal is to help you make your summer vacation as cheap as possible.

Photo by MarinaAvila

  1. Set a vacation budget. Sound familiar?  I know vacations are supposed to be a time of freedom and liberation.  No rules and no boundaries, but you do not want this one week to make you miserable for a year (or longer).  Far too many people complain that vacation credit card payments follow them home.  Here is a simple tool.  Break down your vacation budget into five broad categories: transportation, meals, entertainment, lodging, and other.  Put the predetermined amount of cash into each envelope and go on vacation.  You don’t need to keep receipts or anything and there’s no book keeping.  Just spend money out of the predetermined envelope and then it’s done.  Another option is to buy gift cards for your dining out.  When the gift cards are done, so are you.
  2. Start to save now for the family vacation so you can pay with cash. What my family does is takes our budgeted amount and divides that by the number of months till we vacation. Then we put that monthly amount into our budget each month till the vacation.  For example, if our vacation will cost $1,000 and we plan to go in 8 months we save $125 per month before our vacation ($1,000/8 months).
  3. Book your travel as soon as possible.  Do you know what usually happens to airline prices in the summer?  They go up.  Do you know what usually happens to airline prices the closer you get to your date?  They go up.  So when do you think would be the best time to buy?  Stop procrastinating and start looking online for cheap air tickets.
  4. Follow the steps I outline in Step by Step Guide to Buying Cheap Airline Tickets Online and Step by Step Guide to Buying Cheap Lodging Online.
  5. Check out Southwest Airlines.  While most airlines are adding fee after fee, Southwest still offers you some things for free.  Most importantly free baggage.  Expedia has this helpful chart so you can see all the fees airlines impose.  They exclude Southwest as they do not do any bookings with Southwest.  Here is other reasons why I like Southwest.
  6. Take advantage of current hotel promotions.  Hotels are really trying to fill up their rooms right now.  Both the Starwood Program and the Priority Clubs group have a stay two nights get one free promotion.  You can read about the Starwood promotion here and the Priority Clubs promotion here.  Be sure to read the terms and conditions.  Book your hotel ahead of time to be sure you will get a great deal.
  7. Buy an Entertainment Book for your destination.  When you are eating out, renting cars, and visiting lots of places it won’t take much to recoup your money.  Also, depending on your city, you could see if they offer a City Pass where you get discounts to multiple attractions.
  8. Take advantage of super cheap hotel, air, and car rental rates from Opaque travel sties like Hotwire and Priceline.  Not sure what an opaque site is?  Read this article.
  9. Make a list and be prepared. How many times have you had to buy another container of sunscreen just because you forgot to pack it? Make a list to be sure you have what you need before you arrive at your destination.
  10. Eat before you go to the airport and take your own snacks.  Remember you cannot take drinks through security, but snacks are fine.  Many airlines are charging outrageous amounts for a simple snack so just pack your own.  If you are going to be flying out around a meal time eat before you get to the airport.
  11. Pack light. The less you pack, the less you pay (on almost every airline).
  12. Locate Free ATM locations at your destination.  Find out where you can get cash without fees.  No need to pay $2.50 just because you were too lazy to check out a location online before you left.
  13. Be polite.  If you have any airline troubles being polite always yields better results than throwing a temper tantrum.  If you are delayed over a meal time politely ask if they might provide you with a food voucher.
  14. Take your GPS. If you are renting why pay $5 – $10 a day for a GPS?  Take your own from home.  It really doesn’t take up that much space does it?
  15. Check out www.helpmetravelcheap.com.


  1. Evansville Coupons says

    People too often overlook coupons. Its like cutting money out of the newspaper or printing up your own cash online. Why not? I hate paying full price.

  2. says

    Choose camping over hotels. It’s more fun and costs less. Also, you can cook your own food, which is cheaper than going to restaurants. Otherwise, find a hotel with a kitchen so you can cook there.

    • says

      Camping is a great idea. Personally we’ve spent enough time in New Guinea that the idea of a nice hotel sounds more like a vacation than camping. It’s sad because I used to really like camping.

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