Mar 14, 2016

8 Ways to Get the Best Vacation Deals

A lot of my family and friends ask me how I've been able to go on so many fun vacations.  I thought I would share the ways we are able to go on about one big fun family trip every year (sometimes 2)  First of all, I have to mention again, we always plan ahead and save separately for travel.  I put a percentage of the money I make doing photography into the family travel fund and we also use any money we get as gifts from Christmas, along with part of our tax return.  We usually end up having to use about $200 out of our checking during the trip and that's it.

1. Liligo/Airfarewatchdog emails and alerts for best flights

It may be annoying to some of you to get daily/weekly emails from many of these money-saving sites, but it is the only way I can see the best deals available.  One of which is airfarewatchdog- which is a good starting point to get an idea of what you are going to pay for airfare.  I also have to mention that when we travel as a family since having 3 kids we don't fly (only when it is just me and my husband)  There were many times we flew when we only had to pay for 3 seats and the best deals we found were always on Southwest airlines- subscribing to their emails definitely paid off.  Liligo is best for if you have a specific date you need to fly- you sign up to receive updates on that date every day and then you can book as soon as it is low enough for you.

2. Travelzoo for hotels and entertainment

This year we got our Sea World tickets through Travel Zoo- 7 day passes for less than the price of one day!  My parents also booked a hotel in San Diego with them and it was SO NICE.  They have really great deals on both hotels and on activities. 

3. TopCashBack for all purchases or

Anytime you are going to make a purchase go check these two sites first to see if they have a better coupon code for the purchase or a percentage of money back- quite often they do!  You will first have to sign up which is just giving them your email so you can stay updated on great promotions.  You can get money back for way more than just travel too!  It's pretty awesome!

For our latest trip to San Diego I was able to get a hotel room for 5 nights for a total of $395.  I went through TopCashback to get a percentage back and then used a coupon code on top of that.  Plus, already had a really low price on that specific hotel.  I think I ended up getting 80% off!  The hotel was SUPER cute too and very clean.  It was in the perfect location for a San Diego trip and the only complaint I had was that it was a little bit too small for our family of 5.

Kings Inn- San Diego (our deal from

5. ALWAYS Google for coupon codes before you make a purchase ANYWHERE online.  

I always have the best luck finding coupon codes on RetailMeNot.  There are some other sites that have coupon codes and if you google what you are looking for you may have some luck with those too.  This is how I find coupon codes often for Living Social and Groupon,

6. Research WHEN you should buy your specific flights

This includes the number of months before, the time of year, day of the week, etc)  You can ask around but I would mainly look online.  I read quite a few articles for our Hawaii trip coming up.  I kept an eye on airfarewatchdog and liligo, but really, once the price of your flight drops down about 20% off the price just go ahead and book it!  I am SO mad at myself right now for not booking sooner because the price has gone up for our flights and I held out too long...I am going to end up paying about $200+ than I would have if I had just booked the second it came down :(  Lesson learned...and now you can learn from my mistake ;)

7. Groupon/Living Social for food, spa, other activities

I always get the BEST deals on Groupon.  I also like to make sure I get their emails because they often have promotions where if you use a coupon code you can get 15-20% of their already really amazing prices.  For our Hawaii trip I was able to get 2 passes to go zip-lining for the price of just one!  Something that we would not have done because of expense we will be able to do now!

8. Fare Compare Emails

For those of you that don't want to put a lot of effort and time into planning a trip, but still want to get a great deal, fare compare has some great all-inclusive vacations that look amazing.  I haven't personally booked one with them (I am too much of a control-freak) but I have heard of lots of the places I have seen on their site and people love the all-inclusive resorts where food and activities are all taken care of and all they have to do is show up!

If you want to see the pictures and videos from our vacations follow me on instagram @jesshills. I hope these tricks will save some of you on your next vacations!  Happy planning!
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Adrian said...

Nice! I have used some of these but not all. We are planning CA trip in August. We got a great deal on our hotel, but we want to do Disney for a few days. Any tips on saving money on tickets there? I know there are lots of blogs on just that. I should do some research.

Jess said...

We did Disney last year and unfortunately, no, there isn't a way to get them cheap...PLUS they raise their prices every year :( From the research I did, Getaway Today has the best prices on tickets. I personally think that if you do 4-5 days and the 1 park per day you are getting the best deal. I also suggest going in the off-season and DO NOT I repeat DO NOT take advantage of the magic morning - always do the opposite park of the magic morning because the whole rest of the day you will pay for it with an increase of people at the park on those days. At least that was our experience. Also, make SURE you go on a Monday because those are the least crowded days (unless its a holiday of course) We basically had the entire Fantasyland to ourselves for the first hour of the day on the Monday we went! :)