As the economy begins to bounce back, many families who have put vacations on hold are now ready to pack their vacation bags. But can you really save money and have a good time with your kids on vacation? According to national family travel expert and author Eileen Ogintz, you can have your cake and eat it too when it comes to saving money and spending time with your kids.
Recently, UrbanMediaToday's Allegra Johnson spoke with Ogintz about saving money and why it's so important to spend quality time with your kids on vacation.
Allegra Johnson: We know that the economy is not at it's best right now, so how important is it that people feel like they are getting the best deals for their money?
Eileen Ogintz: Well, obviously we all want to get the most bang for our buck. But I think it's really important to remember that we need vacations. We need the time to connect with the kids, get away from all the stresses and strains at home. So we shouldn't feel guilty about taking a vacation.
AJ: What are some tips on saving money on spring vacation?
EO: There are a lot of ways that we can save. Think about when your going (on vacation). For example, if you go to Orlando in May or June, it will be cheaper. During that time you can find lots of hotels rooms for under $100.00 a night and it will be cooler and less crowded. If you go to ski country in Colorado or Park City, Utah, you'll find plenty to do in the spring and summer also, lodging will be two-thirds less then in winter. Another things is, think about places closer to home. You know, maybe you want to go to a national park; you don't have to go to Yellowstone or Yosemite if you don't live near there. You have 397 national parks to choose from, so choose one that's just a couple of hours away from home.
AJ: What about hotel stays? It can be challenging when you are traveling with children.
EO: Well, you can opt for a place to stay, where you can cook some meals; a condo or vacation house. There are also suite hotels that have a kitchen. Another way to save is to share expenses; with the grandparents or good friends. You're not only going to spend less on lodging cost, you'll share on food cost as well.
AJ: And where are some of the best places to go for families with children?
EO: Well, I think it depends on the family. If you have a kid who is obsessed with the theatre; go to New York. If you have a kid who lives for roller coasters or princesses; go to Orlando. But I think it's good to talk to the kids about what they are interested in. Ultimately, they're not going to decide where you are going but they can help out. Also when kids feel like they have input in the decision making, they will be a lot happier and you'll be much happier too.
AJ: And when it comes to saving money during the vacation, is it best to book everything as a package deal or search yourself for the best deals?
EO: If you're planning to fly and you go to a website like South West or Expedia and you book a hotel, a rental car and a flight altogether, you can save 20 percent or more. Basically what's happening is, you're not saving that much on the air fare but the hotel is giving you a bigger break then you can get on your own. It all depends on the kind of traveler you are. I suggest that you do your research before booking altogether. So, say you're going to Washington, DC or New York, you might want to look at the city's official website and see what kind of hotel deals there are. And if you're traveling with kids, you might find an incredibly cheap hotel but it might be inconvenient. If you're going to D.C. and you have kids, you may not want to be too far outside of the city, so it might be worth it to pay a little bit more.
AJ: And when it comes to flying with kids, what are some things parents should know?
EO: Many airports now have what they call a family lane. Always look for that so you don't get stuck behind an impatient businessman. When you have little ones who might have a favorite toy or blanket that they always have with them, It's good to explain to the kids before hand about why they have to go through security so they won't have a meltdown in the line. I think traveling with reusable water bottles is great when you have kids. And make sure you have an extra tee-shirt or change of clothes just in case the kids spill something or have an accident.
AJ: Is there anything else you would like to add?
EO: Just remember, when you are sitting on a plane with your kids, that time can be really special. Maybe have a deck or cards or a book or something that you both can share. And finally remember, when you're traveling with kids, it's just like raising them; it's expensive and messy and wonderful. So just don't expect everything to go totally smoothly because it won't but some of the mis-steps become some of the most memorable moments.
Written by Allegra Johnson for UrbanMediaToday.com