Family vacations don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Try using these nine thrifty travel tips from consumer savings expert, Andrea Woroch, to save some money on your next vacation.

  1. Discover off-peak destinations — The United States is a big country. This means there are nearly unlimited places to travel. Los Angeles and San Francisco are some of the most popular spots, but they’re also the most expensive. If you think outside the box, you’ll find some really cool locations to have a unique vacation without the crowds … and the expenses.
  2. Shop at auctions— Is your heart set on luxurious accommodations, but your bank account just doesn’t match up? The auctions at travel sites like can help you find accommodations, spa credits, meal vouchers and free drinks for as much as 65 percent off the retail price.
  3. Go back to school — Traveling with a large group? Frequently, hotels will offer discounts to large groups Many colleges and universities rent out empty dorms during the summer, which can save everyone a bundle, especially if you’re staying for a week or longer. If you’re traveling with a soccer team or church group, college campuses also offers more space and freedom for kids to play outdoors.
  4. Use discount gift cards— Purchase discounted gift cards at sites like for big savings on rental cars and airfare. Gift cards for airlines like Southwest usually sell out within minutes, so signing up for e-mail alerts can help put you at the front of the line.
  5. Make your own food — Eating out at new restaurants is a vacation highlight, but there’s no need to eat out three meals a day. Instead, plan to eat out for only one meal. Many hotels offer some sort of free breakfast, typically consisting of fruit, cereal and pastries. Also consider booking a hotel that offers a mini kitchenette so you can prepare meals to enjoy in-room or pack for lunch.
  6. Enjoy membership perks — Credit card affinity programs and club membership in groups like AAA can provide some unexpected travel benefits. AAA members can find discounts at hotels, restaurants and local merchants. They’ll also give you complimentary tour books and travel maps. While many credit cards offer points with purchases that can be redeemed for airfare, hotel rooms and other travel perks.
  7. Giving back to get away— If rest and relaxation are less of a priority than simply getting out of town, there’s always an abundance of volunteer opportunities. Voluntourism is a great way to connect with other people who care about the same causes. Sites like can help you find opportunities all over the world. Many times, food and lodging are included when you commit to a term of a week or two. All you have to do is get there.
  8. Find secret savingsTravelocity is taking a new approach to finding great hotel prices with their Top Secret Hotels. Give them a little information about when and where you’re traveling and they’ll give you a list of hotels with ratings and prices. Once you pick one and book your stay they’ll reveal the name and details of the hotel you selected.
  9. Travel with apps— Smartphones go where you go, so they can help you save while you’re on vacation. If your family is taking a road trip, the Gas Buddy mobile application can find the lowest prices on gas for every leg of your journey. After fueling up the car, Meal Ticket will help track down coupons and reviews for nearby restaurants.