3 Ways to Save On: Super-Sized Family Vacations

By Linsey Knerl      

Looking to get away, but plan to take the whole brood with you? There's a more affordable way to bring all the troops to your next vacation destination. Whether you're headed to warmer climates, just need a weekend somewhere fresh, or plan on trekking all over the world, these simple tips can help trim the travel budget when you've got a big family.

Kids Stay Free: Why pay full-price for a half-sized traveler? Small guests are usually honored at most chain hotels with a "Kids Stay Free" promotional offer. The rules will vary by location, but most offer some sort of free child stay (or two) for each paying adult guest. Keep in mind that hotels will have to follow state fire codes, and that you may be limited to 5 -7 guests per room. (If you're having problems finding a way to fit all the little ones in one location, consider a suite, adjoining rooms, or rooms at popular theme parks – they can offer as many as three queen-sized beds in a standard room.)

Packing for Snacking: It's difficult to pack for much of your food needs if you're flying, but car trips are a breeze to accommodate for. Be sure to take along a large cooler with healthy snacks, drinks, and ice. (If you're concerned about how long food will keep, invest in prepackaged but nutritional treats like nuts, dried fruit, and single-serve organic milk.) Remember that every meal you eat from you local grocery store is one LESS meal you have to buy out (on a credit card and with a 15 percent tip.) Want to save even more money? Make sure that your hotel room offers free breakfast and afternoon snacks (like fruit or cookies.)

Off-Season Value: Remember those adventure parks that we told you about (the ones that have the fabulous accomodations for large families?) Many of them also offer great off-season rates! While the details aren't usually highly advertised, it's possible to put in a word with your favorite theme park or indoor water center and let them know that you're in the market for non-peak promotions. It's not unusual to hear about mid-day discounts (while kids would be in school), winter pricing (with buy-one-get one deals) or even free kids' admission!