By Samantha Bomkamp and Scott Mayerowitz, AP Airline Writers
NEW YORK (AP) — No one wants to spend more than they have to on a vacation. But with the family in tow, it's even more important to keep the budget in check.
Whether it's taking a trip to Grandma's for the holidays or planning on a larger vacation, families can make a lot of money-burning mistakes if they're not prepared. From packing too much to choosing overpriced dining spots, here are the biggest mistakes to avoid on your next family trip.
1. FIXED VACATION DATES
Flexibility is the single most important money-saving factor when planning a vacation, but arranging your getaways around school vacations can be a burden. Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly, but that often means that kids miss class. If you're traveling with the family, try flying on Saturday — another traditionally cheap day to fly. Avoid Fridays and Sundays, which are the most expensive.
Even if you're not flying, flexibility with travel dates is the best way to avoid paying big bucks on hotel rooms and car rentals. Check multiple sites with several different combinations of dates to ensure you're getting the best deal.
2. BOOKING SEPARATELY
When booking a vacation, most people lock in a flight and then decide on everything else. But by reserving each part of the trip one by one, you may end up spending hundreds more than you would with a package deal. Airlines, hotels and rental car companies often offer fire-sale prices in package deals because they generate a lot of interest and the companies don't have to show what they're charging for each individual piece. That way, they can keep travelers who book separately in the dark about what similar options are going for.
Package deals with huge discounts can be found in a number of places, from online travel sites like Expedia to the airlines' websites themselves. Deals like these are especially prevalent in the fall, a traditionally slow season for travel.