jetAnother spring break looms and your family travel budget may not support a blow-out vacation this year, but that doesn’t mean you have to forego spring break family travel altogether. These tips will help make your family vacation more affordable.

Go for a Spring Break Visit

Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need. If you have a cousin, sister-in-law or college roommate who lives somewhere you might like to explore, call and ask whether she’d be willing to have you and your family visit for a few days.

But–and this is important–be entirely honest about your plans, needs and wants during the visit. Are you looking for a free bed and breakfast and nothing more? Or do you want a built-in tour guide and personal driver who will show you the sights? Are you willing to repay the favor by hosting her family in the future? It’s always best to have the details worked out in advance. If you don’t, that next family reunion could turn into a really testy affair.

Do the Free Stuff

Every town has free stuff to do. Call the local chamber or convention and tourism bureau to find out what events and attractions are free and kid-friendly. For a list of free, fun and family-friendly things to do in many U.S. towns, check out the Free in 50 States feature on

Double Up

Consider vacationing with another family to split expenses (and, perhaps, child care duties so each couple gets a little private time). It might allow you to cut your gasoline bill in half or rent a bigger condo that gives everyone more room for privacy.

mountainsUse a Coupon

Check the web to find coupons for hotel rooms, car rentals and attraction entrance fees, says Barry Boone, owner of

Ask and Ye May Receive

Robin Korman, senior vice present of loyalty marketing and strategic partnerships for Wyndham Resorts, says you should always ask for a better deal.Call the front desk and ask the clerk for an extra night’s stay free, a discounted rate or free upgrade – even if the hotel isn’t currently advertising one. When you call, say something like, ‘I already have a reservation at another hotel at a cheaper rate, but I’ll book with you if I can get a third night free.’”

After you check the hotel Web site for availability, call the hotel directly and ask for a better deal before you book a room. Chances are the hotel will be willing to give you a deal to fill an empty room.

Don’t Buy What You Don’t Need

For example, check your auto insurance policy to see whether it will cover you when you’re driving a rental car. It can save money on car rentals.

Ask Around

Spend time chatting with the locals. They know where to get the best for less. And, unlike the hotel concierge who may be getting a kickback from the restaurant he recommends, locals are just happy to be promoting their hometown.

playgroundBe Flexible

Justin Soffer, vice president and general manager of, says airfare sales normally run Tuesday through Thursday, so book your trip on those days. If possible, plan to travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays, which are typically the least expensive days to fly.

Stephanie Diehl of Travel Designed by Stephanie, a travel agency in Freeport, Illinois, suggests opting for a non-traditional spring break destination to save money. Rather than head to Orlando and Disney World, choose a city stay or another spot closer to home to save on airfare and have a better shot at negotiating a good deal.

Eat and Drink More Frugally

It’s easy to save money on food and drink, says Teri Gault, CEO of the, If your hotel doesn’t include free breakfast, stop at a nearby grocery and pick up cereal, bagels and a carton of orange juice so you make your own breakfast in the room. If you’re eating out, get your big meal from the fancy restaurant at lunch. You’ll get the same great food at a much smaller price. And bring your own refillable water bottle. Buying water bottles at $2 a pop can add up quickly. Regardless of whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, always bring your own snacks for the journey. Buying snacks in the airport or at a gas station along the way can be very expensive.