Professional Travelers Share Money-Saving Tips For Holiday Travel Shopping
LA Times travel editor Catharine Hamm shares real "budget" destinations for savvy travelers.

Annual Family Travel Conference Attendees Brainstorm Top Insider Tips to Find Bargains

(New York, December 15, 2015) – Today’s savvy traveler may check out blogs, social media feeds, online travel agencies and the Sunday Travel Section for deals, but nothing beats the advice of trusted friends. And since everyone’s Holiday Wish List includes a dream vacation, the expert vacation planners at the 4th TMS Family Travel Conference have shared their money-saving secrets for travel with family, friends or solo adventures.

Organized by TMS Family Travel and Family Travel Consulting, the conference drew on the experience of six dozen media, cruise, hotel, airline and theme park professionals to explore travel values. Here are a dozen tried and true tips shared by the pros:

1. Shop for airfares early and let low cost carriers like Southwest Airlines point you to new destinations. Early bookers can often lock in seat assignments and not have to pay upgrade fees to guarantee seating.

2. Look for a percentage or dollar discount on vacation packages, notes Catharine Hamm, travel editor of the Los Angeles Times, rather than “value adds” or perks like a turn-down snack which are hard to quantify.

3. Travelzoo, Living Social and Groupon are all good sources of limited availability travel deals online agree Jen Leo of and Melissa Garcia @ConsumerQueen.

4. If hotel or cruise prices seem too low, beware! Some facilities may be closed or under noisy renovation. Call ahead before committing.

5. Be counterintuitive to find travel bargains says Spud Hilton, San Francisco Chronicle. Europe in winter, the Caribbean during hurricane season, or destinations that have experienced political turmoil are usually great buys. But, check for advisories at and at

6. Use online price comparison and forecasting tools like the Trivago Hotel Price Index, demonstrated at the TMS conference by Jeremy Crider of They enable travelers to plan bucket list destinations at the cheapest time of the year.

7. America’s National Parks are favorite budget picks for the frequent traveling families of Keryn Means ( and Amy Whitley ( Admission is free on many national holidays, family members 62+ and those with disabilities receive a $10 lifetime pass, and park passes are often valid at closer-to-home state parks. Many campgrounds have cheap, stocked cabins for those without camping gear or experience.

8. Book Disney vacations as early as possible, warns Ian Ford, CEO of theme park ticket discounter Be the first to find deals and avoid disappointment, by shopping 499 days in advance of arrival for on-site Disney hotel rooms, and 180 days in advance for character dining reservations.

9. Maximize the value of a daily theme park pass with Mouse Wait, an app used by Jennifer Miner of The Vacation Gals showing the current wait time at a particular Disney ride.

10. Begin your research at the local Convention & Visitors Bureau, where everyone can get involved in planning and free maps, brochures and coupons save time and money.

11. Revisit a destination you’ve been to in the past suggests Caryn Bailey, of, because you’re more likely to find a bargain in a place you know.

12. Vacations with a volunteer component are great value. Kimberley Tate of adds that they teach kids to give back at home as well as in the communities they visit.

Catharine Hamm, a fan of Twitter and Facebook for finding deals, summed it up by reminding travel shoppers, “Trust your instincts;” if a travel deal sounds too good, walk away.

That’s holiday shopping advice that never goes out of style.



About TMS Family Travel
In its 15th year, Travel Media Showcase produces the TMS Family Travel conference and brings together leading print and broadcast travel media with tourism representatives to showcase new regions and connect destinations with qualified leads. Travel Media Showcase is a division of J. Vero & Associates, a conference production and management firm based in New Jersey.


About Family Travel Consulting
Family Travel Consulting is the collaboration of Eileen Ogintz of Taking the Kids, the nationally syndicated travel column with millions of readers; and Kyle McCarthy of Family Travel Forum, the vacation planning resource that’s The Wall Street Journal’s “Best for Grandparents” and a Forbes “Favorite.” FTC provides strategy, marketing, digital and social know-how to travel and family products, and hosts the TMS Family Travel Conferences and Summits for media reaching the family vacation audience.


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