May 232013Shellie’s Favorite 5 Vacation Tips + A #HelpMeSave Vacation Makeover

Welcome to Saving with Shellie! If you are visiting the site for the first time after seeing me on Fox 7, I normally do a round up of my favorite five deals going on right now but today we mixed it up a little. With summer right around the corner, it’s time to plan your summer vacation.

A vacation may not be in the budget for your family this year but you’d be surprised how much you can do on a little. I teamed up with Valpak and Savings.com to offer a Vacation Makeover to a lucky local reader. Meet Traci Shannon. Author of A Star in My Own Universe and mother of two. She is eager to not have yet another staycation this year. Here’s how I used a limited budget to send her family of four to Corpus Christi for four days.

:: TIP #1 - Stock up on supplies before you go. Pack more than you think you need so you don’t have to buy full-price. Use coupons at the grocery store to save. We found Traci some great deals at Target this week like free flip flops and $.35 sunscreen.

:: TIP #2 - Look for a budget hotel with free breakfast and a fridge available. Bring sandwich fixings, chips and fruit from home. Then you only need to eat out for dinner. Use Savings.com to look for coupon codes for hotel travel sites like Hotels.com, Orbitz and more. We found Traci several budget hotel options from Hotels.com that were $300-$400 for 3 nights. These all had free breakfast, a fridge available, a pool and good guest satisfaction ratings from Trip Advisor.

:: TIP #3 – Look for “staycation” ideas on the road. When people are planning staycations they look for fun, inexpensive local activities. Why not do this when you are visiting!? Search for local blogs and other websites that offer staycation ideas for your destination city. For Traci’s family we found a local park that offers free summer concerts. It’s perfect for Traci’s family because it also has a HUGE playground for kids.

:: TIP #4 – Pick one or two attractions and budget for them ahead of time so you don’t feel badly about splurging. Use the Valpak website and enter your destination city to find discounts and savings for popular local attractions. The Texas State Aquarium is one of the top attractions in Corpus Christi. For Traci to take the family it’s $60 which is pretty pricey compared to other attractions. We found a $1 off per ticket coupon and this fun-for-kids splurge will make the trip even more memorable.

:: TIP #5 – Give yourself a contingency budget. Kids get hungry after you’ve run out of snacks. Dinner out may be more than you budgeted. Your gas fill-up may be more than you expected. Use mobile apps like ValPak Mobile to find ways to save even when you are out and about. I gave Traci a $150 contingency, which is an extra $38 per day. It’s unlikely she’ll need quite that much but it’s nice to have it in the plan just in case. I also showed her the GasBuddy app so when she and the family are in an unfamiliar city, they can still find the cheapest gas.

Use these tips to plan your own getaway. You an also tweet using #HelpMeSave and @ValpakCoupons and @Savings will help you find savings for your destination.

Want to find more ways to save? You can get free daily email updates with all the deals, follow along via Facebook or subscribe via RSS feed. Not sure where to start? You can checkout my Welcome Page or Couponing 101 for some great tips.