Almost at the home stretch of this series! So, now that you know where you are going, how you are getting there, where you are staying and how you will eat, what else will you do?
This is a fun and pretty easy topic. There are definitely ways to save money on almost anything you want to do. Since you looked at the area when you decided where to go, you probably have a good idea of at least some of the activities.
1. Sit down with your family and brainstorm what you would like to do - get everyone involved. If your kids are too little, think about their favorite things to do - for many little ones a pool or a playground is as much fun as an amusement park.
2. Make a list of 5 or 6 "must do" activities - include something for everyone.
3. Do a search on the web for the location you are visiting. Look for the tourism office, check citysearch and check a few travel forums like frommers or fodors. Check for activities as well as discounts.
4. Go to the library and check out a tour guide on the area.
5. Combine your ideas from #2 -#4 and pick out your top ones. If your kids are older, consider letting them each take a day and "plan it out" - that can be a lot of fun for them and if they are more involved in the trip, they will enjoy it much more.
6. Now, get back on the internet and look for deals - type in the name of the attraction and then the word "coupon" or "deal" - this will often pull up a few sites where you can get discounts. If that doesn't work, call the location and ask about deals. For example, last time we went to Sea World I called and asked them if there were any deals on ticket prices. They told me that if I brought in a Pepsi can or bottle we would save $10 off admission - quick and easy. Another place to look for deals is if you are a member of AAA. There are often discounts associated with that membership. Of course check the Entertainment book also.
7. Don't forget while you are on vacation to ask the locals (at restaurants is a good place) if there is anything special you should do while you are there. Last time we were in Florida near the ocean the waitress at breakfast (a nice local joint) told us where to go to see Manatees. It was free and fun! This is a good way to find State or County parks which can be a lot of fun - especially if you pack a picnic lunch.
8. Finally, don't pack your days too full - especially if you have little ones. Sometimes the most fun can be had playing in the pool at the hotel, stopping at a school playground to play or just relaxing on the patio with a good book and a coffee while the kids nap or play in the room.
If we are visiting a place like Disneyworld, we usually only go to the parks 2 days out of 7. Then 2 or 3 days are spent at the pool and the other days just exploring Orlando - the outlet mall, parks, other attractions, etc.