6 Ways You Overpaid for Your Last Family Vacation

6 ways to save on a family vacation.
6 ways to save on a family vacation.

You’ve read all the updates about America, the under-vacationed nation. You already know that most of us leave vacation days on the table—time off that we could be spending jet skiing at the lake, relaxing by a pool, or hiking in a cool, fragrant forest. And the reasons we do this are more complex than vacation costs alone, involving demands at work, job insecurities, and other workplace dynamics. But if taking vacation time was more affordable, don’t you think people would try harder to find a way around the challenges of getting away from their jobs and their daily routines?

Here are 6 ways that many people leave family vacation dollars on the table, paying more than they need to for accommodations and travel services that others are enjoying for much less.

  1. Need to rent a car? Don’t just book it; bid for it or negotiate a rate. Hotwire and Priceline both offer options for you to bid for a rental vehicle from most of the major car rental companies. A website you may not have discovered yet, Breezenet.com, offers rental deals that include local car companies as well as national brands. And most companies offer specials, coupons, and membership discounts for groups you already belong to such as alumni associations, AAA, professional associations, and even warehouse or buying clubs.
  2. Airfares really are cheaper on certain days of the week. This is more than urban legend; airfares are at their lowest on Tuesday afternoons and begin to creep up throughout the week, with buying airfares on weekends being the most expensive time to shop.
  3. Renting a timeshare, as most include eat-in kitchens, can save you a ton on dining out and also make it easy to pack snacks for days you will be spending at places, such as theme parks, where on-site food costs drive up the price of your daily fun.
  4. Consider alternate airports. If you have to rent a car at your destination anyway, you might find the best price on air travel isn’t to fly directly to your destination. Most online travel booking websites offer the option to “search nearby airports” and many even let you set a distance by miles for how far from your target destination you are willing to travel. One example of using an alternate airport is the Orlando-Sanford International Airport, which is located within an hour’s drive of the theme parks and attractions in the popular Orlando-Kissimmee family vacation area. Served by a limited number of airlines, you’ll find that this Orlando travel alternative not only offers highly competitive prices on domestic carriers to US destinations, but also on travel from Europe and South America through international carriers. And although it is a full service facility, it’s smaller size makes this airport one you can move through quickly, saving time to offset the fact that it may not be the closest to your timeshare rental or the parks you plan to visit.
  5. Renting a timeshare typically means you can pack lighter. Since most timeshares include either an in-unit washer and dryer, or laundry facilities convenient to your timeshare unit, (such as in a common hallway and shared by a few units), you can buy less and pack less, reducing luggage fees.
  6. When you plan a family vacation in a timeshare rental, you have options for how much money you want to save. You can rent directly from a resort and you will save over the cost of a hotel room, because you can accommodate more people, more comfortably, without the cost of renting additional timeshare units. But that is only the beginning of the savings possible on timeshare rentals. You can rent timeshare directly from the person who currently owns the timeshare, either in a rent by owner transaction or by working with a company that specializes in timeshare resort rentals. Renting timeshare from the owner or the owner’s representative, often means you are working with someone who is only looking to cover or offset the costs of his annual timeshare maintenance fee. These drastically reduced rates on accommodations are in fact, a win-win for timeshare owners and vacationers.