By Eileen Ogintz
The conventional wisdom is to travel low season for the best rates. Of course, when kids’ school schedules are part of the equation, that’s not often possible.
That’s why I’m glad to see opportunities for families to get a good deal — at the times they want and need to travel.
Take the IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) Global Sale, which is enabling families to save at least 20 percent on the Best Flexible Rate at participating hotel stays this season — through Sept. 15. Those who are members of the IHG Rewards Club can earn bonus points and get extra savings. There are, of course, some caveats: You need to book three days in advance of your stay and before July 31. And you’ll need to pay for the entire stay at the time of booking. But as long as you know where and when you are going, that shouldn’t be a problem. (Travel insurance — many policies insure kids for free — can help you when something unexpected derails your vacation plans.)
The key: Consider what kind of hotel you need — just a place to spend the night after a road trip or clean up after camping; a resort with a lot of bells and whistles; a boutique city hotel, or an extended stay hotel where you can settle in, spread out and save money with your own kitchen and free breakfasts. (IHG hotel brands includes upscale InterContinental, boutiques Kimpton and Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn Resorts — and Staybridge Suites, with plenty of space to spread out, kitchens, free happy hour and a free hot breakfast buffet.)
Here are five other ways you can save on your summer travels this summer:
- Follow your favorite hotel brands on social media. You will be the first to hear about special deals.
- Be prepared to book when a “flash” sale is announced — It may only last a day or two.
- Join loyalty clubs. They are free and often get you extra perks — free morning coffee, a room upgrade, for example.
- Don’t be shy! Call the manager and ask about upgrades, free breakfasts or more. Make them aware if it is a special occasion—a Babymoon, birthday, anniversary, etc. They are in the hospitality business, after all, and aim to please!
- Seek out free (or nearly free) activities. Have a picnic or pizza at the hotel pool; go for a hike in a nearby state park. Tour a local factory on a rainy day. Head to a free summer concert. The local tourism office and website typically lists free summer activities.