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Summer Vacation Savings


CCCS Offers Tips to Save on Your Family Vacation


ATLANTA GA, May 22, 2008 - Another school year is coming to an end and families are busy making plans for summer camps and for the annual family vacation. According to the American Automobile Association, a family of four spent an average of $269 per day on food and lodging in 2007. That cost doesn't factor in the cost of travel, visits to theme parks and other attractions, or boarding the family dog.

"While a vacation can provide a much needed break, it can have a significant impact on family finances," said Suzanne Boas, president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of Greater Atlanta, Inc. "Planning and creativity can go a long way in helping families keep the fun without breaking the bank."

CCCS offers some simple steps to help families save on their summer vacation plans:

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
By air - Travel experts suggest planning your travel for Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday, when fares are lowest. This is also a great time to use rewards points, frequent flier miles, or companion tickets to get free tickets. It is still possible to find deals on air travel. Start by comparing ticket prices at sites such as or Ticket prices can change daily, so if you're shopping online, check back regularly to get the best price.

By rail - While trains offer an alternative way to travel, families need to factor in not only the cost, but the time it takes to get somewhere to determine whether this is the method for them. Train travel can take 2-3 times as long as the average car trip, and families still need to have transportation options once they reach their destination.

By car - Record gas prices have made travel more expensive, and it seems that $4 gas will be with us throughout the summer. This might not be the year to drive cross-country in the family SUV. If you are planning to drive, consider destinations that are closer to home.

Families should compare the costs and benefits of each method of travel based on their destination, the length of the trip, and their own comfort.

Where to Stay

Hotels, vacation clubs, rental homes, camp grounds, house swaps... there are many choices when it comes to vacation lodging, and typically there are lodging options for every budget.

Look for special promotions - Many hotels offer special promotions, including free gas cards, discounted attraction tickets, free breakfast, and a free night's stay when you book so many nights. Sign up for hotel rewards programs and you will receive emails notices of their promotions. When you find one you want, book early, as the promotional rates disappear quickly. All-inclusive destinations can also provide value for your next vacation. Be sure you know what is included and make sure they are things that your family would use.

For trips of a week or more, renting a home can be a more cost effective option, especially if you plan to cook many of your meals or are traveling with another family. Unlike a hotel stay, there are many deposits and other fees associated with renting a home, so be sure and review the requirements carefully.

Dining and Entertainment
The average vacationing family of four spent about $120 per day on meals last summer. For a 10-day trip, the cost of food can rival the cost of the airline tickets.


  • Pack snacks. When traveling by car, reduce the number of stops you have to make by packing a cooler with drinks and snacks for your trip. If you are traveling to theme parks during your vacation, packing some fruit and other snacks can save you lots of money.
  • Kids eat free. If your hotel has a free meal option for your family or just for the kids, be sure to use it. And many restaurants offer free kids meals too. Before you go, visit and jot down a list of the restaurants where you can get special deals.
  • Look for coupon specials. Most cities have travel and entertainment brochures and magazines that include coupons for free appetizers, discounted meals, and more. Find the visitor center when you get to town.
  • Eat-in. If you are staying in a family suite hotel, private home, or other location with access to a kitchen, fix some of your meals in and you will save. While breakfast for four can easily run $35 or more, fixing eggs, toast and fresh fruit at home can be done for less than $10.


  • A one-day visit to a theme park can easily cost $300 for a family of four. Consider multi-day passes if you are planning to go to more than once or visit multiple passes. Annual passes at some attractions can cost just a few dollars more than a one-day pass and might be a good value if you are in town for a couple of weeks. Look for website deals before you leave town-sometimes advance purchases can be done at a discount. And if you are a state resident, there may be special pricing available.
  • Consider low and no-cost attractions such as state or national parks and museums. Spend a day lounging by the hotel pool, catching up on your reading, and enjoying a nap. Go fishing, hiking or biking-enjoy the outdoors with your family for a fraction of the cost.

There's No Place Like Home
Many families will consider taking a "staycation" this summer-opting to stay at home for their vacation. It eliminates lodging costs and can significantly reduce travel and meal costs. There are likely many places right in your hometown that you never visit-a zoo, science museum, butterfly garden, aquarium-all within driving distance. The key is to plan out your time off so you don't spend it cleaning out closets or scrubbing floors. Plan a morning drive to a beach or lake followed by a picnic lunch and an afternoon of bowling. Follow dinner with a make your own sundae station-the kids will love it. After a fun-filled day with your family, everyone can crawl into their own comfy beds.

About CCCS
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta is a 501(c)3 nonprofit community-service agency that provides confidential budget counseling, money management education, debt management programs, bankruptcy counseling and education, and comprehensive housing counseling. The agency serves nearly 400,000 consumers, who are primarily from low- and moderate-income households, in all 50 states.

Consumers can speak to counselors in English and Spanish 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by phone at 1-800-251-CCCS, and also access the agency's web sites, and where live-chat counselors are available around the clock. The agency's web site also provides free interactive seminars and other online education courses through CredAbility U.


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