Gav Martell: He’s in the Kitchen


5 Ways to Save For a Family Vacation This Winter

How AIR MILES Reward Miles Can Help Get You There Faster

5 Ways to Save For a Family Vacation This Winter
I'm fortunate to be able to travel as much as I do. Chasing culinary destinations around North America and the globe is really not a bad way to spend your time away from home! I don't chase action adventures, historic relics, or thrilling experiences; I follow my eyes and my stomach wherever they may take me (quite often with my wife and kids in tow).
Local food festivals on the southern shores of Ireland—hook me up! A new cluster of micro-breweries pop up on the west coast—I'm there! A week-long festival in the Caribbean celebrating all things chocolate—count me in! If I see a food story I think my readers will enjoy, it stops becoming a matter of IF I'll go and starts becoming a matter of WHEN I will go. 
With all of this travel, I know how costly it can be to try and get away on vacation. Airline tickets, baggage fees, and airport parking can all add up before you even leave the city. Multiply this cost by all of your family members and the cost of the trip itself, feeding the troops, and keeping everyone entertained and happy.
Orlando circa December, 2012 

Simply put, travel can be overwhelming and downright costly, so I've put together five tips to help you save up for a vacation with your family this winter. Whether you follow your stomach on vacation or any use other motivating factors, I've included some tried-and-tested methods I've used with my own family:

1. Collect Reward Miles.

A great way to help save money for a trip is to look to AIR MILES reward miles to do some of the heavy lifting. Reward miles can be redeemed for flights, hotels, and car rentals—the three major costs on any family vacation. I'm already collecting miles by shopping at places like the LCBO, Metro, and Shell. Erica Ehm tipped me off about the advantages of signing up for an an American Express AIR MILES Credit Card, because while it can take a while to normally earn reward miles to save up for a vacation, I could earn twice the reward miles when shopping at participating Sponsors by swiping both my AIR MILES Collector Card and my American Express AIR MILES Credit Card. The credit card options are varied to accommodate a wide variety of lifestyles, from luxury travelers to moms and dads trying to get the best deal on their family vacation. This means my normal grocery shopping can help me collect reward miles at two times the pace I normally would, and use them to help us save on our family vacation.

2. Include your family in the savings plan.

Let them know that while you are saving for your trip, you are going to try and save money with economical meals. Every time you would normally consider going out to a restaurant for a meal, stay in and make a similar dinner at home. Take the estimated savings and put them into your vacation savings.

In addition, every time your family has a vacation-saving dinner, put $20-$30 into the fund. This can include dinner from the freezer or pantry or having a fun breakfast-for-dinner night like pancakes and eggs or grilled cheese with tomato soup. The kids will love seeing how their actions can contribute to a fun family goal! For me, since we're often tasting delicious food on our trips, it's easy for the kids to relate this savings plan into a delicious vacation.

3. Find the best deal for your hotel.

When it comes time to book your trip, there are many ways that you can save some extra money! Many hotels will include breakfast in the price of your stay so this can end up being quite a large opportunity to save. If you're away for a week and have a family of four it can easily be worth three to five hundred dollars!

4. Make your own coffee at home.

If you're a coffee drinker, you'll be amazed at how much you spend ordering coffee out of the home. Every time you make coffee at home or opt for a regular cup o' Joe instead of a fancy latte or cappuccino, drop $4 into your vacation savings. If you've got two adults who would normally order a few high-priced drinks a week, that can quickly add up!

5. Shop Online.

Another great way to save money for your vacation this winter is to try and save on your day-to-day retail purchases in the comfort of your own home. By shopping online at you can quickly and easily shop at over 100 stores on BOTH sides of the border and collect reward miles at the same time. As my kids get older, they each have their own tastes and favourite stores. Comparing and contrasting prices and savings can be done simply from one website, helping you save time and money. Every time you find an online deal, take the money you've saved and put it towards your vacation savings. Rest easy knowing you're putting money away AND collecting reward miles to help you realize the family vacation you're hoping for!
In this day and age, there is no way to avoid the many costs of a family vacation. However, there are ways to compensate if you've got a game plan. For me, it means I can make those delicious culinary travel stories a reality on my YMC blog. Wherever you're trying to travel to, make your winter vacation dreams become a reality, one frugal dollar at a time!