Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Vacations have been more stressful than relaxing with a toddler. So I had little to no good expectations of our trip to Chicago as a family. We were attending a wedding in the city and wanted to make it a short get-away for our family. But I was so pleasantly surprised by how we enjoyed ourselves, and I'll be sharing a few things about planning and traveling for budget-conscious families.
With Spring Break or even summer vacations approaching, what's the best way to maximize time and resources?
Before you go, it's helpful to prioritize because most of us are unable to have the luxurious hotel, lavish shopping, and unlimited budgets for the dream vacation. While it is quite possible to save to purposely splurge, we should think about what we're willing to pay more for.
First, accommodations. In choosing the right hotel, we considered price, location, and amenities.
Obviously, it is important to compare rates. Check websites like Hotels.com or Priceline.com for specials. Also consider using AAA or other discounts. For traveling to big cities, parking costs should be considered. Does the hotel offer free parking? If not, what kinds of parking privileges do they have?
How much are you willing to pay to be close to attractions? How much money is your time worth? In visiting Chicago, we stayed close the airport and took the train into the city. It took us 30-60 minutes, but was worth saving $100 each night.
I like to eat, so a free breakfast is a huge perk for me! But what else is free? Wi-fi? Parking? Shuttle service?
For other families, the pool area is important. Suites are always nice for families too. Check websites to find out what's the best fit.
In doing research, my go-to site has been TripAdvisor.com. I find benefit to reading the reviews and also utilizing the forums to "ask the experts." Researching and gathering details about hotels sends my brain whirling, so make a helpful list or spreadsheet for easy comparison.
Stay tuned for more about vacation planning!
Photo Credit: Image: porbital / FreeDigitalPhotos.net