|by Kaeli Conforti||Helpful Websites, Technology, Family Travel||0|
Looking to save more money on your next family vacation? I recently chatted with Anne Taylor Hartzell, founder of the family travel website, HipTravelMama.com, to find out about the best ways families can get the biggest bang for their buck—especially when it comes to meals. Here are her five top tips for saving money on your next big trip.
Create a list of favorite restaurants for your destination.
Everyone thinks about the price of airfares, hotels, car rentals, and how much they should spend on activities and attractions, but people sometimes forget to set aside enough money in their vacation budgets for meals. Anne says a good idea is to research the place you're traveling to and create a list of favorite restaurants. That way you can estimate how much you'll really be spending, and you won't be tempted to blow your budget on an impulsive dinner at that fancy restaurant you know is way out of your price range.
Stick to hotels that have in-room kitchens or resort credits you can use towards meals.
Instead of eating at restaurants for every breakfast, lunch, and dinner during your trip, consider booking a hotel room with a kitchenette, visiting the local farmers market or grocery store to make sandwiches for lunch or even cook your own special family dinner. Alternatively, you can scope out hotel deals and packages that include daily breakfast to help cut spending on one meal a day, or look for places that offer resort credits towards meals at the hotel restaurant to offset the cost of dining out every night.
Eat where the locals eat.
Instead of being herded into one of the more touristy restaurants in the town you're visiting, talk to some of the locals and find out where they like to eat. Ask the hotel staff, your tour guide, or even your taxi driver, about their favorite places to eat—not only are you more likely to end up with an affordable meal, but you'll also get to try local specialties and have a more authentic dining experience.
It's okay to splurge...sometimes.
You may be on a budget, but you're also on vacation. Make enough room in your plans for a special splurge—eat at that amazing Italian restaurant everyone's been raving about or treat yourself to a sunset dinner on the beach in Tahiti because, honestly, how often do you get a chance to something like that? It's okay to splurge once in a while, just don't make it a habit or you won't be able to afford your next vacation.
Look up deals and coupons online before you go.
Scour the internet for coupons and meal deals—look for dining vouchers, discounts for activities and attractions on sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, and Travelzoo Local Deals, or seek out coupons for popular restaurants in the place you'll be visiting. Restaurant.com offers deals at more than 18,000 restaurants and diners around the country, saving travelers more than $500 million since 1999 through its extensive gift certificate program. Their Double Deals program even rewards you with a $25 gift certificate towards meals if you purchase a $25 business voucher for use at participating businesses either at home or on the road (like local barbers, electricians, or beauty parlors), to help beef up your budget for the next big adventure.