Thursday, March 10, 2011

Time to Hit the Road!

March starts AAU basketball season for my son, and that means LOTS of traveling, very few free weekends and numerous hotel stays! It can get really expensive so I really need to focus on ways to save this year. I do have a few ways I plan to save that I’ll share with you! Who knows, maybe some of it will be useful!

1. First, with gas prices the way they are, we have to determine the least expensive routes to travel for our trips. This means minimal toll roads without adding a lot of miles. I invested in a new GPS system with current maps. I have the TomTom and I really like it! I will invest in updating the maps before our travel season so I have the most recent information available. This will save us time and money (as well as keeping us from wasting gas being lost!!).

2. For me anywhere I can save money is a deal to me. I am putting my car in the shop for maintenance, tire checks and anything else that needs to be done before we hit the road. This way we will not only be safe, we will safe money on gas and unnecessary repairs.

3. Since we don’t have a choice as far as when we travel, I signed up for the loyalty clubs for the major hotel chains (Marriott, Hilton and Sheraton). These points add up really quickly when you are doing a lot of traveling. Plus I have some classes scheduled for work so by the end of the summer, I should have enough points for a free room or two! Some of the rewards clubs also have “stores” where you can cash in the points for items.

4. I start looking for hotels early to try and catch a good deal. For instance we have a tournament in the Disney area this year. While we may not be able to enjoy the parks all that much, we can surely cash in on some of the hotel discounts that abound in this area. Since we will be there for a week, I plan to rent a vacation condo and hit up the nearby Walmart to stock the refrigerator! Some places I like to check for discounts in the area are and Deb’s Unofficial Walt Disney World Vacation sites. For other areas I like to check Expedia and Travelocity.

5. When I arrive at the hotel, after checking in, I look for the ad board. I don’t know the official name for it but it’s the place where all of the little pamphlets for local and area attractions are. There are usually some discounts for local food places.

6. I always visit the area’s Chamber of Commerce website prior to my trip. This is another place you can find coupons, and discounts for local businesses. Also if you are going to be in the area for a few days, you may find some local events that you can attend! Once we attended a local fair and had a blast!!

7. My son plays basketball so that keeps him pretty busy, however my daughter sometimes gets a little restless from having to sit in a gym all day. I shop ahead of time for little treats for her. Since I use Swagbucks as my search engine, I’m always accumulating Amazon gift certificates. I use these to purchase games for her DSi and also books and puzzles that she can do in the car. Saves a lot of grief and fighting over the laptop!!

8. My kids don’t like this one so much, but we gotta do what we gotta do. If the hotel where we are staying does not offer a continental or some type of breakfast, I get bagels and cereal for us to eat breakfast in our room. That’s one less meal that we have to pay for. They don’t like it but they know!

9. One thing I just started doing is checking to see what supermarkets are in the area. This way I can take my coupon binder with me and still save money if I have to shop for food or other necessities. Most areas have a Super Target or a Super Walmart so this is usually not too difficult. There are tons of coupon sites where you can find out what the best deals are too! I tell them I’m from out of the area and I don’t have their store card and most of the time the cashier will swipe their card for me. More savings!!

10. Last but not least! We have fun! Whatever the situation, wherever we are, we make the best of it and have a good time. Fortunately our team is very close knit so we eat most of our meals together and enjoy each other’s company. This is the cheapest form of fun there is!!

So there are my tips for a fun filled travel season! If you have any, I'd love to know what they are! 

I’m looking forward to exploring some new places this Spring and Summer. If you see me on the road, be sure to wave!!

In the interest of disclosure, I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Love and Blessings!