A couple of weeks ago our family of 3.5 took a little babymoon to Carlsbad, California for some sun and relaxation to get us through the last month of winter. We wanted to squeeze in Luke’s first trip to the U.S. before baby no. 2 arrives and have some quality time together as a family of three. I thought I’d share some tips that I take into consideration when it comes to shopping around and booking travel along with some recommendations in the area.
(FYI…I’m splitting this post into a Part 1 and 2; Part 2 will include eating and activities.)
Shop Smart Tips for:
Booking the trip…
- Keep costs down with flexible dates and search to find the cheapest dates within that timeframe. I use the Hopper app to tell me when it’s affordable to fly and purchase our tickets. This app watches your trip dates and tells you when the prices drop and before they rise so that it takes the guessing game out of the equation.
Typically, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually the cheapest days to fly as well as Thursdays and Saturdays. Mondays and Fridays are pricey due to business travel, and Sundays are crazy because people want to maximize their vacation stay.
- When it comes to rental cars I am always digging for online discounts. Rental companies offer codes to members of frequent flyer programs and other companies like AAA and Costco so definitely check out those options if you’re a member. You can usually combine discount codes with coupon codes too. (e.g. Airline discount code + Rental coupon code). You can also save upwards of 20% if you prepay which we’re big fans of. And, my other suggestion is negotiate at the desk. (I’d definitely say I’m the negotiator between my husband and I.) I’m not afraid to be turned down and it’s always worth trying, right?!
- During spring break (end of February to the beginning of April) prices can really vary depending on the destination. I have learned that the busier the hotel, the higher the price/night. Prices go up as availability becomes scarce so be ready to shop around and look for packages that make it affordable to book.
- If you want a specific destination you should book well in advance.
- Always call the hotel before finalizing your booking to see if they will match the rate you found online. It’s worth it to see if they have any promos where they include a daily meal for the family or offer a good AAA rate.
Our family was deciding between Palm Springs and San Diego and it really came down to the hotel. We ended up choosing the Park Hyatt Aviara Hotel in Carlsbad, CA because I got an excellent rate through Trivago that I couldn’t pass up. Some of the great features the hotel offers includes golfing, beautiful grounds, family-friendly environment, family pool and adult pool, tennis, spa, etc. It use to be a former Four Seasons Hotel…so, really…I didn’t need to know much more before booking. 🙂
Shopping in the area…
I always check in with the concierge to make sure I’m hitting the right spots when I’m on vacation because I don’t want to miss a thing. They usually have booklets of coupons and maps for the malls/outlets so you can plan your strategy in advance. Here are some shopping recommendations in the vicinity…
(Side note: Why are the malls so gorgeous in the states? They just feel so different to me and the experience is always so much more enjoyable. It’s got to be the warm climate mixed with the outdoor layout.)
- Carlsbad Premium Outlets (Carlsbad, CA)
- Fashion Valley Mall (San Diego, CA)
- University Town Center (San Diego, CA)
- South Coast Plaza (Orange County, CA)
- Fashion Island (Newport Beach, CA)
- Target (Oceanside, CA – 2255 S El Camino Real) – this Target has a great selection…best I’ve seen in a while. We were able to grab some organic groceries from here so we could stock the fridge in our hotel room. I had housekeeping add a fridge in advance so that we could fill it with milk and snacks for Luke. It made life so much easier!! We literally went to Target every night after dinner so I could enjoy aisle by aisle. Where else do you go with a toddler when you need to kill time before bed on vacation? 😉
Hope some of these travel tips help when you make your next booking! Where are you heading next? Would love to hear…