Budget travel doesn't have to be just about camping in a tent...or long road trips with whiny, crying kids asking "How much longer, Daddy?" or "Mom, I GOTTA GO NOW!"
Although I have to admit...
One of our most memorable trips was when we drove to California (from Wisconsin - about 5,000 miles roundtrip).
We stopped at the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, Mount Rushmore, and Jackson, Wyoming where we went horse back riding in the gorgeous Teton mountains.
So if you love to travel...but don't have an extra $10,000 lying around...Great!
And if you want to bring "Champ" along on the family vacation...
After all, your dog needs a vacation too!
And for all my visitors from "across the pond"...
Pets stay Free at many of the most beautiful cottages in scenic Scottland with Dales Holiday Cottages. From the Dales to the Scottish Highlands.
Off beat places like...
Argentina, the "Paris" of Central America...
Honduras' Roatan Island, the best value for cool Caribbean beaches...
Malaysia, with beautiful beaches and exotic jungles...(been here!)
Mexico, with parasailing and the Copper Mountain train ride...Here too!)
Morocco, with ancient fortresses and camel rides...
Peru, with Incan ruins of Machu Picchu and whitewater rafting...
Thailand, with beachfront bungalows for $10 and elephant rides...
Turkey, with plenty of family resorts and underground cities with cave rooms for $4 a night...(Going in March 2007)
and even Singapore, with "Little India" and peanut satay on a stick...(Been Here)
And let me assure you...I'm the Queen Bee when it comes to budget traveling...especially when you have 4 kids to feed and entertain!
We've taken all four of our kids on budget travel trips to Maui, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, England, and Japan.
And in mid-March, we're heading to Turkey! I'll be sure to let you know how that adventure goes.
If you don't mind an occasional long flight, you can splurge on some of the most exotic beaches and historical cities on Earth.
How does a rustic cabin on a black sand beach in Maui for $55 sound?
Or a beachfront bungalow for $10 to $20?
Or a seafood dinner for $2?
Or a luxury 5-star hotel room for less than $200?
All this is possible and so much more...when I show you how to budget travel with the whole family...in style!
My brother-in-law is a pilot for Delta airlines. So we are the LUCKY receivers of 6 free airline tickets...every 6 years!
Why only every 6 years? Because there are 11 siblings in my husband's family, and we all have to take turns!
But boy, is it worth the wait.
Whenever we get our free tickets, which happens to be this March, we travel to far away "sweet spots" that we wouldn't normally go to.
Especially with all 6 of us.
So we're heading to Turkey, the Czech Republic, and the Greek Islands with the kids. (I'll tell you all about it when we get back!)
But most people don't have a pilot for a relative...so the next best way is to shop around for cheap fares.
This is the #1 site to book the cheapest airfares for your next budget family vacation... Orbitz and Travelocity are also good websites to check for prices.
You often find the best prices on the web, even better than airlines website.
So be sure to compare prices before booking your flight.
A good rule of thumb to follow is $250 or less is a good price for domestic flights, and $450 is a good price to Europe, particularly to London.
And if you can be flexible and travel during the middle of the week, you'll save even more big money.
Also, the cheapest flights are to major airports. It's less expensive to take a train or rent a car than to fly into a smaller airport.
But be careful here.
You're obligated to take what they give you when bidding.
When you're checking in for a flight, a good question to ask is "Is this a crowded flight?"
If the answer is yes, then ask "Will there be travel vouchers given to passengers for volunteering to be bumped?"
A yes to this question means you could be given a FREE travel voucher to be used in a year if you're willing to delay flying.
That means a FREE ticket...later...for a little inconvenience...now!
Well worth it if you have the flexibility.
Frequent flyer miles is also a smart way to earn Free tickets. American airlines has the best program.
In my husband's previous job, he had to travel twice a year to Germany and 4 times a year to California.
Now, since we live in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin during the winter...
the kids and I jumped at the chance to tag-along with Dad to sunny California during one of his business trips.
We also took advantage of staying with family living in California for a really inexpensive trip.
We've also tagged along to Germany, Belgium, and Japan for more budget travel vacations.
And I'll never forget a couple romantic days in Cancun, Mexico (we left the kids at home for this trip)..and a week-end in Paris for our 10th Wedding anniversary.
So if you travel at all for your business or job, extend your stay, invite the family, and get a much deserved budget travel vacation!
Along with 1 free airline ticket!
My husband thinks of it this way..."the kids are growing up so fast...we may never get the opportunity again to travel together."
I'm always amazed at how few people actually take advantage of combining business with pleasure vacations.
Millionaires do this ALL THE TIME...and get a tax deduction as well.
Besides the airfare, hotels are the next biggest expense on vacation.
Don't ever think that you have to pay full price for a hotel room. The price is always negotiable, particularly when you call the hotel directly and talk to the manager instead of the central reservations number.
And don't forget to ask if the kids stay free...or eat free.
If you are stopping at a hotel without advance reservations, you can usually get a few bucks off by just offering a business card and asking for the "business rate" or a student ID for the "student rate", etc.
An empty room isn't making a hotel any money and they'd much rather discount a room, than leave it empty.
So let's be creative here to get the best budget travel deal.
First of all, if possible, smart budget travelers go during the off-season to get the best rates.
Especially traveling to Europe...or you'll blow your budget as soon as you get off the plane!
We went to Maui (THE most expensive Hawaiian island) during October.
I called the Embassy Suites direct and talked to the manager.
He was able to match the lowest fare on the web AND gave me one FREE night.
And the best part?
A fantastic breakfast buffet is included and there is a refrigerator, microwave, AND coffee maker in the suite.
So of course I stocked up on plenty of drinks and snacks for the kids.
Remember the cabin on the black sand beach I mentioned earlier for $55?
It's true...we stayed in a rustic cabin at Waianapanapa State Park on a horseshoe-shaped black sand beach in Maui.
It was in a beautiful tropical jungle setting surrounded by avocado trees and geikos that my sons Tony and Matthew chased for hours!
All for $55 for six of us.
It's the best deal in Maui...and everyone knows it too.
You should reserve it at least 6 months in advance...but I called to see if there were any cancellations and got lucky!
It never hurts to try...and I've never been hurt by a NO yet! Call (808) 984-8109 for availability.
And be sure to take a hike on the ancient Piilani trail to see some real mounded rock burial grounds.
Kind of creepy if you ask me...but my kids thought it was the coolest thing ever.
Let me say...traveling in Europe with 6 people can be tricky...and expensive if you aren't careful!
Hotel rooms in Europe are definitely NOT like the Holiday Inn rooms we're used to here in the United States!
Most European hotel rooms are for 2 people...and the large rooms accommodate 4!
When we went to Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands...we had to get 2 hotel rooms, and some times 3 rooms.
It was NOT cheap.
That's when I started growing my budget travel Queen Bee wings!
Renting out private condos or flats as they're called in Paris...became much more affordable...and comfortable too.
And they're becoming more and more popular with budget-minded travelers - especially families.
Another budget travel tip for getting half price hotels is with "Happenings Books" or Entertainment Passbook.
These books can be purchased for under $50. In the middle of each of these books is a list of U.S. and worldwide hotels that will give you 50 percent off a hotel room...from low end to high end.
You can't beat these for budget traveling.
Here are some fantastic theme parks to take your kids on a budget... Your savings on a one night stay will usually pay for the book.
The trick here is to make reservations before the hotels are 80 percent full or you won't get the discount.
So make your budget travel reservations early!
The passbook is organized by destination city and there is a wide variation in prices, so try calling several hotels to get the best price.
If they're too full to give you the coupon price, ask for the best price available - you'll be surprised at what kind of discounts you'll be offered, such as corporate discounts, off-season discounts, specials, etc.
Another technique to try is to use the passbook to get a rate for a business-oriented hotel on a holiday weekend.
This worked for us when we went on a long ski week-end in a hotel with a water park.
Entertainment Passbooks are sold for various cities around the U.S. Ask for one covering the nearest major city to you so that you can also take advantage of the budget travel offers on local attractions and restaurants.
These books are often sold be charitable groups as a fundraiser or are available at 1-(800)-374-4464.
You'll be amazed at the sheer number of budget travel discounts you can take advantage of.
So pack your suitcase...grab the kids...and go on a millionaire vacation without breaking the bank!
And let me know YOUR tips for saving money while trotting the globe!