Beach-KidsSo, you’ve decided that it’s time to start planning for your next family vacation. Only this time you’re feeling like taking a stab at surfing the deal sites for a destination and let’s face it, saving a buck or three hundred sounds pretty good too. Before you set out in search of great deals -and possibly going cross eyed, numb-fingered and slightly less sane than when you started-  here are a few tips to help you navigate through the jungle of deal sites out there.

Choose Wisely. Let’s play a little game. Go type, “deal site” in your search engine, then come back and share how many businesses turn up in your results. Can’t count that high? Not surprising. To say that the deal business is booming is like saying, “Shoe shopping is fun”. Hello Captain Obvious. So, how do you sort through all of them to find what works for you? A good mix is the key here. The big guns are pretty familiar to most; Groupon or Livingsocial. Both have fairly good travel components. What you may be far less familiar with are niche sites like Jetsetter, which caters to the luxury traveler (hey, posh people like to save money too). Traveling with a family? Try deal sites that cater to families. Get a good mix of big name and niche sites and focus a scant handful of those.

Know Your Goal. Shopping deal sites can be sort of like a shopping for shoes, it’s hard to stop at just one (or four) pair. Knowing your goal is a huge time and impulse buy saver. If you’re looking for a cabin on the lake, reading the whole “pitch” about a weekend shopping escape to LA might be fun but it is counter productive. You’ve got a long way to go, save your energy -and eyesight- to look for relevant deals.

Think Differently. Oh Steve, how we miss thee, thanks for leaving us with this bit of wisdom. When you think differently, you just might end up embarking on an unexpected adventure. When we travel, most of us tend to think linearly; Destination. Accommodations. Reservations. Entertainment. Deal sites can be a great tool for thought shifting. Try finding smaller, locally based, deal sites in the area you’ll be visiting. Think of this as the ultimate “insider guide”. Most of these smaller deal sites subsist on local business, they offer great deals on places locals go. If you’ve saved money on say a sightseeing cruise on the Potomac, treetop zip-lining adventures and eating out from DC based deal site CertifiKid, you have more of your budget left over for finding a great hotel for DC vacation (or maybe buying more those shoes we mentioned).  

No matter how you plan your next trip, or what deal site you might choose, remember it’s more about the people you travel with than the places you travel too. Enjoy the journey!

~ Deals Traveling Mom