6 Ways to save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, on your 2017 family travel on Cyber Monday
This article may be the most important one that you read on any travel website. Why? Because it could potentially save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, in 2017.
I love a deal. And I know how to find one. Before becoming a family travel editor, I spent years as a consumer investigative reporter. It was my job to save people money. So I’ve combed through Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals for well over a decade. In the last few years, I’ve seen more and more travel providers - airlines, hotels, and resorts - offer killer deals on Black Friday and even better ones on Cyber Monday. This year will be no exception.
But to take advantage of the potential savings, you need to do your homework now. If not, you’ll be overcome by indecision on Monday, November 28 and unable to cash in.
Photo courtesy: Fabian Blank
1/Decide on your family’s 2017 travel calendar
Admittedly, I’m a planner. And yes, I’ve already locked in the dates and locations of my family’s travel plans for the entire coming year. On Cyber Monday, you’ll find me in front of my computer screen making airline reservations and booking hotels… and saving a whole lot of money!
“I can’t plan that far ahead,” you say? Sure, you can. It starts by asking two simple questions: when are the kids not in school and when can I get time off from work?
Let’s talk about school. Already, your school district has likely posted online the school calendar for 2017-18 school year. Look at it and this year’s school calendar; mark down all the vacation periods and random days that they’ll have off. If you’re the parent of a high school junior or senior, you’re not likely to pull them out of class; it’s just not going to happen. But if you have younger school-aged children, there are times when missing a couple of days of school is acceptable. A few years ago, I pulled my children out of class a few days before their winter break to go on a cruise of the Galápagos Islands. I would argue that - educationally-speaking - they benefited a great deal from that trip. And let’s be honest, not a lot gets accomplished in those days leading up to a school break.
In addition, if you have young elementary school-aged kids or kids that are not yet in primary school, I implore you - travel during the off-season, meaning avoid school holidays and the summer. You’ll save a tremendous amount of money. For example, take the family to San Diego in October, when nearly all the attractions are free for kids and hotels offer deep discounts. In a few short years, you won’t have this option, and trust me, you’ll kick yourself for not taking full advantage.
Now what about work? Getting the necessary time off can be a bit more tricky. The key is to be proactive and investigate your options now. Before Black Friday and Cyber Monday, go into the boss and explain that you’re trying to make some reservations in advance to save money. Hopefully, he or she will reward your thriftiness by approving your time-off request.
Photo courtesy: William Iven
2/Decide on what region of the world that you’d like to explore
You thought that it was difficult comparing doorbuster deals on flat screen televisions on Black Friday. That’s nothing compared to wading through the pile of travel deals. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. So prior to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, call a family meeting and ask your family where they’d like to go in 2017. Maybe you’re on a budget and need to focus on regional travel. Maybe your family wants to explore the great outdoors and visit our country’s national parks. Or maybe this is the year for your family’s first trip abroad?
To that point, know that international travel doesn’t always mean more money. For example, if you were able to score a good deal on airfare, a vacation to a country like Cambodia is amazingly affordable. Actually, Cambodia is one of KidTripster’s favorite international destinations for families. So use KidTripster as a resource and explore different destination options before Thanksgiving week.
Photo courtesy: Hannes Wolf
3/Decide on the type of vacation that you’d enjoy most
Different families travel differently. Personally, I can enjoy a five-star beach resort for about three days before I go a little stir-crazy; but I have friends who are perfectly content to spend an entire week on the same beach. Sometimes this decision will be dictated by the age of your children. If you have three kids under the age of five, a long road trip is probably not in your immediate future. If you have teens, you’ll likely need some element of adventure. Are you going to make it a true family vacation and invite the grandparents to join you? Again, explore your options on KidTripster prior to Black Friday and Cyber Monday to come up with a short list of your top choices.
Photo courtesy: Arno Smit
4/Decide on a budget
I’m of the opinion that every family should take a vacation together, no matter what. Being intentional about taking time away from school, work, and household responsibilities is vital to creating lasting family memories. Even if you don’t have a big budget, there are ways to unplug the electronics and connect as a family. For example, exploring our state and national parks is incredibly affordable. And if you do your homework and are prepared for the upcoming travel sales, you could end up scoring a vacation that you otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford. Last year, the three-star Palace Station Hotel in Las Vegas offered rooms for $10/night on Cyber Monday!
Photo courtesy: Bench Accounting
5/Sign up for newsletters and follow on social media
Once you’ve narrowed your choice of destinations, start stalking. Yes, stalking. Go to the website for the airline, hotel, resort, theme park or cruise line that you may want to use and sign up for its newsletter. (If you hate junk email, you can always unsubscribe in December.) Also follow those travel providers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, plus follow aggregate travel websites like Kayak or Hotwire. Sometimes exclusive deals will be offered through these social media platforms. For example, in 2015, HotelTonight gave new Instagram followers a secret discount code to use on purchased travel, according to Deal News.
Photo courtesy: William Iven
6/Use KidTripster's cheat sheet
Based on past year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, I’m able to make some predictions about what you can expect online this year. In addition, we at KidTripster have contacted many of the travel providers that we recommend on this site, and they’ve shared information regarding their discounts with us in advance. Know, that unlike other travel websites, we do not make a cent from passing along this discount information to you; there’s no kickback if you book travel with any of these travel providers or properties. That’s not how we operate. Our goal is to equip you with the best information possible to ensure that your family can travel the world together.
Click here to see a sampling of what deals you can expect on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Editor Shellie Bailey-Shah was an Emmy-award winning consumer investigative reporter prior to founding KidTripster. Few things give her more joy than planning a fantastic family vacation that was purchased on sale!