Yesterday I decided to write about traveling. Traveling is a SUPER passion of mine and quite frankly, I'm good at it. What I mean by that is, I have figured out several ways to travel cheaper AND BETTER over the years which allows me to travel more, and that of course is the goal. I woke up this morning, at a hotel in Vegas, at 5:00 am (my body still runs on East Coast Time), thinking about sharing some of the ways I've managed to save money on nice stuff and travel more over the years, with or without my kids. Tim jokes that he just "let's me go" and asks how much later. Now understand, this dude knows where all our pennies are so that's a big deal.
KEY to understanding what I mean: I DO NOT stay in discount, sometimes sketchy hotels. I stay in the nice spots and many people roll their eyes and think I'm spending so much, which usually, I pay very little for the nice places, every single time.
One example before the tips: Katie was in the 7th grade and playing travel volleyball. Her team had recommended 3 hotels in the Pigeon Forge area. The team received a discount for those hotels and their total was going to be $130 a night. Most of the mommas ended up choosing a Hampton Inn (that severely needed remodeled) because it was close to where the kids played and included breakfast. Well, I wanted to stay at The Christmas Inn because A. It's SO Pretty. B. Santa stays there. and C. Their breakfast is THE BOMB. Using what I guess I could call the Kelli method, I got our rooms for $111 nightly and the breakfast was included.
I hope these tips might help you get where you want to go for a little less and get there a little more often!
TIP ONE: Junk Mail - Girl. Friend. Sign up for all that junk mail. Yep, I said it. When you go to a hotel and they want to exchange your email for a discount, give it up. On any given day, I receive about 200 "junk" mail messages but within those messages, I will have discount codes, returning offers, and flash sales. When it's time to book a room, I simply go into my email, type in the place I want to go in my search bar, and all the offers from that hotel pop up.
TIP TWO : Pick up the phone! - Ok so this is a BIG one. Not only to get a good deal but also to get better rooms, make a call. Call the hotel directly. DO NOT USE THIRD PARTY SITES. I know they tell you they've giving you the best deal by comparing or offering a free night after 10 stays or whatever, but in our experience, you will get the best rate by talking to the person at the front desk directly. ALSO, and this is a big one for me, we seem to get nicer rooms when we book directly. After we started traveling for work and volleyball a couple times a month each winter, we realized when we used a third party site, our rooms needed updated, were the farthest away from everything, and needed more attention than the rest of the hotel. We actually had an employee of a very nice hotel tell us once, they hold the less desirable rooms for those who booked online through other sites.
TIP THREE: FREE REWARDS - If you book with a chain like Hilton, Marriott, or MGM, again, give up that email, fill out that registration, and become a member. These hotels reward you for your loyalty, give it to them! This has probably saved us the most money over the years. For the kids stuff and for work, we may choose to stay at a Hilton hotel every time for like a 6 months. We will get a discount every time and then we start to get free rooms. This is worth it. Here in Las Vegas, is where we save the most though. We are MLIFE members. Each time we come here or DC, we stay in a MGM property hotel. We get HUGE discounts and rewards. Every time I go to the spa or we eat in the hotel, we scan our card and get additional points.
Last September we came out for Tim's 40th birthday and I was able to get us a suite at the Bellagio for 5 days for $147 TOTAL. I'll just leave that link below.
(We ALWAYS pay less to stay in Vegas than we would pay in Beckley, WV)
TIP FOUR: Prioritize - Once you've booked your place to stay, start to decided where you want to spend your money. For example, when Tim and I come out to Vegas, we know one night we are doing a super deluxe very expensive, put me in a pretty dress meal. Just ONE though. We kind of decide ahead of time that we will splurge on a certain night and then it takes the pressure off of doing that too many times and in the long run saves stress and money. It seems like common sense but I know when we first started to travel he wanted me to be happy and I didn't want to overspend so we would have stressful conversations that usually started with "where do you want to eat." I know we're not the only ones.
TIP FIVE: Make Payments WITHOUT charging a credit card - We travel to Disney every 2 years. For our family, at this point, that requires about $10,000 for food, room, and park tickets. Listen, I have never just called up Disney and said "charge it" OR "Here's my debit card" for 10 grande. No way. We don't charge our vacations ever and we started traveling long before we had enough money. SO, I found sites, programs, and ways to simply pay on it. I like to use Disney as an example because it's still the only way we can afford to do it so often. Anyway, I simply call Disney, tell them exactly what I want and make a $200 deposit. I book that vacation a year and a half before we plan to go and let the payments begin. I don't make a payment in December or January intentionally to avoid stress with Christmas.
TIP SIX: Just ask. My last and best tip is to speak up! Every time we arrive at a hotel I, without apology, boldly ask if there are any upgrades available, any new discounts that might apply, etc. I do so with a big ole' WV smile. I make conversation, explain why we're in town, and typically comment on me having 4 kids and needing this trip. Like 60% of the time, I end up getting a discount or some free upgrade. On this trip we're on right now, they didn't have any suites left but a new offer came out since I originally booked so she offered that to me instead and took $250 off my room! Yep, I'll take it!
Well guys, I hope at least one of these tips gets you searching the internet and planning something fun!