If you were to ask anyone from my family what one of our favorite things to do is, we would probably reply with one word. Travel! My happiest memories are of our trips to various places. Its the only time when we are all together for several days without the distractions of work, school or other stresses. My family is very close and we do spend alot of time together on a weekly basis, but its different on vacation. Everyone is just so much more relaxed and happy. It has become a very important time to us.
You are probably thinking, "Well sure if you are loaded." Let me be clear here... we definitely arent loaded. But we do make family trips a priority. Everyone spends money on different things; clothes, housewares, eating out, the latest electronics. We channel it in another direction. There are also ways to majorly cut costs when it comes to travel.
First of all, forget staying in a hotel! Crazy expensive and you really dont get much for your money. We choose to stay in condos or suites with full kitchens. Not only are they cheaper, but we are then able to cook most of our meals (another cost saving idea) and fit more people in our room to help split costs.They are way roomier and usually come with shared ameneties such as pools, hottubs, bbqs and a concierge.
Travel off season. Unless you find a screamin deal, travelling when others arent will save you alot of money. Avoid Christmas, July/August and spring break. Airlines, accomodations and car rentals go way up at these times of year. If you are keen to travel during these times, book far in advance. See two paragraphs down.
Book online. Check out expedia or travelocity for flights, VRBO for accomodations and priceline for car deals. Usually you can save money by also booking your activities online, such as amusment park passes or day tours. Sometimes if you buy passes to things in advance you will even save yourself time by getting to jump the line.
Book early! Alot of people think by waiting to the last minute you get the best deals. Its true, you can get some very good deals if you are willing to wait until the week or two before you want to go. However, this will limit your options and there is a reason there is availibilty. If you have a specific idea of a place you want to go, usually booking 6 months in advance will score you a better price.
So there you have it. Carolyns travel tips. Hope they are helpful :)