3. FORGETTING DISCOUNTS OR PROMOTIONS
Hotels and car rental companies frequently offer discounts to members of AAA and AARP, and to government workers. They also have deals to offer special rates to the employees of certain companies. It never hurts to ask. Signing up for loyalty programs may pay off as well. Some offer a free night's stay for as few as two or three spent at a chain hotel. A week-long road trip could easily enable you to earn a couple of free nights to bank for your next vacation.
4. USING (OR NOT USING) FREQUENT FLIER MILES
Most parents wouldn't think about signing a preschooler up for frequent flier programs, but the miles can easily add up if your family travels frequently — especially on an airline like Delta where miles don't expire. Each airline has its own rules, but many let kids rack up points before they're out of diapers. American Airlines, for example, doesn't have a minimum age.
Once you rack up those miles, though, be sure to use them wisely. George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com recommends only redeeming miles for flights that cost more than $300, especially particularly expensive international jaunts.
5. IGNORING HOTEL ADD-ONS
Although a free breakfast or Wi-Fi might not be a deal breaker for a hotel stay, try to choose hotels with these services to avoid piling up extra fees. Breakfast for four could easily add $40 to your bill. Internet access may be another $10 a day. Parking at city hotels can run from $25 to $50 per night. Some hotels add fees for a roll-a-way cot or for extra guests, even kids.
"Families that don't do proper pre-trip research around what is or is not included in their hotel rate could end up losing nearly $100 a day," notes Chris McGinnis, editor of Best Western's travel blog You Must Be Trippin'.