Hit the Road

A summer vacation doesn’t have to bust the family’s budget.
Here are ways to save.

Money-saving Tips

Locally, ClarkHoward.com has daily travel deals and other discounts, including airfare sales from Atlanta.
Kidventurous.com, named the best family travel blog by Parents magazine in 2011, offers tips and deals specifically for families.

Coupons, Discounts

Sites such Groupon.com, Livingsocial.com and Entertainment.com offer discount coupons for hotels, restaurants and activities.
The convention and visitors’ bureau of the city you’re visiting often has discount coupons for attractions or last-minute hotel deals.
For some larger city destinations, Citypass.com has discounts for admission to attractions, and you skip most ticket lines.

Gasoline

Use gasbuddy.com to locate the cheapest gas when it’s time for a fill-up. A recent search for a Marietta zip code found regular gas from $3.33 to $3.89 a gallon, a 56-cent difference.

Stay For Less

A condo or house may be the best deal for families. You can save money over a hotel, when you dine at your home-away-from-home and limit restaurant meals. Plus, you’ll have more room to spread out. Try Vacation Rentals By Owner, vrbo.com, for deals, if you’ll be staying a week or more. Consider renting a house with another family; you’ll both save, plus your children will have built-in playmates.
If you’re staying only a night or two at any location, check Expedia.com and Travelocity.com to get an idea of hotel rates or look for bargains at Travelzoo.com, Hotwire.com or Priceline.com. At Hotwire, you’ll see hotel prices but you won’t know which hotel until you book.
Some hotels offer a lower “nonrefundable” room rate, discounts for a week’s stay or savings for booking two weeks in advance. Many offer complimentary breakfast. You can often get a better hotel rate than that listed on websites if you call the hotel directly.

Loyalty Programs, AAA

Chains such as Holiday Inn, Marriott or Best Western have loyalty programs; sign up for free and accumulate points toward a free night with each paid stay, plus be alerted to hotel specials. Some give you additional perks such as free breakfast or late checkout.
AAA, the American Automobile Club, has negotiated discounts with many hotels, restaurant, attractions and car rental companies; membership costs $66 a year in Georgia, but could save hundreds. Other benefits include emergency road service for auto trouble, trip planning services and free travel books.

Vacation at Home

People visit metro Atlanta from all over the world, but many of us haven’t been to some of the destinations those tourists come to see. Take the week off, but save the hotel and restaurant costs, and visit the Georgia Aquarium, Stone Mountain, the Atlanta Zoo, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, the Atlanta History Center and the metro area’s many other attractions.