I Saved Over $900 on My Family Vacation By Using Trip Advisor

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On the fence about TripAdvisor? Here are 6 solid reasons why your vacation planning should start on their site.

family at waterpark

Planning a summer vacation?

It’s that time of the year when the sun is hotter and vacations are being planned! The process of booking a vacation can easily turn from exciting to overwhelming. My family and I just took a vacation and I can wholeheartedly say that using TripAdvisor made the planning process so much easier all while soaking in some fun under the sun on a budget!

woman and kids at airport traveling

My husband recently got a new remote job that’s based in Orlando and had to fly down for some training. After some consideration, we figured this could be the perfect excuse to have some family time and plan a vacation! We planned this trip for mid-June when our three kids were out of school. Since my husband would be meeting us down there, it was time to embark on the plane with just me and the kiddos! ✈️

woman and kids in orlando booking through tripadvisor

TripAdvisor to the planning rescue!

We sought out some help from TripAdvisor, and the stress of planning seamlessly disappeared. Even better, we saved so much money on the hotel and activities… but more on that later. 😉

mini waffle maker in hotel room

I know how expensive traveling can get, so I tried to save money literally anywhere I could. I bought some reusable water bottles from Dollar Tree and used them throughout the trip so we never had to buy bottled water. I also bought a mini waffle maker and pancake mix, so we’d enjoy a delicious breakfast every day right in our room!

family at margaritaville

We had a blast at Margaritaville Orlando! After all the fun and money I saved thanks to planning this trip with TripAdvisor, I realized how lucky I am to reap all these benefits. Because of this, I need to share with the Hip community what the perks are of planning a trip with TripAdvisor! There are even more hacks and benefits if you become a Plus member, so keep on reading to find out all the benefits.

Here are some benefits of booking with TripAdvisor:

1. Easily find hundreds of resort options!

margaritaville listing on tripadvisor

Once you select a location to travel to, it can get pretty stressful to figure out where to stay. In my opinion, there’s no better place to show the top results and most highly rated resorts. There’s a calendar outlining which dates are considered average, cheaper, and pricier.

family at margaritaville orlando booking trip using tripadvisor

We chose to stay at Margaritaville, and this feature helped so much with our booking process. We originally were going to travel during spring break, but once we saw how much more expensive it was, we decided to wait until June. It ended up being cheaper and more convenient since our kids were out of school!

There are also a bunch of filters you can apply if you’re a little picky! Free cancelation, reserve now and pay later, and special offers are some of the most valuable filters in my opinion. You can even browse all-inclusive options and pick your price range!

2. Browse fun activities that are nearby your vacation destination.

family at margaritaville

There are so many incredible things to do in Orlando, which is one of the reasons why we chose it! With so many options, we didn’t know where to begin. Since we were staying at Margaritaville, we knew we were in an area with tons of fun things to do! Tripadvisor recommended Island H2O Water Park and it was a blast!

It was only a 3-minute walk from our resort. It was also recommended we grab season passes at $69 each as opposed to $44+ each for a day pass. This way we were able to enjoy the water park almost every day we were there, even if it was just for a few hours! Thanks to TripAdvisor, we were able to plan these visits in advance as opposed to when we arrived!

kids climbing on rock wall

No matter what you or your family is into, you can also book your activities directly on TripAdvisor’s website. Although not every activity is available on this, there are so many to choose from. If you purchase something then find the tickets cheaper elsewhere, no need to worry; TripAdvisor will actually refund you the difference! It’s kind of a no-brainer, right?

3. Gather restaurant recommendations while reading reviews.

baked ziti

Finding restaurants and choosing where to eat can be super stressful. Luckily, there’s an entire section on TripAdvisor dedicated to restaurants and food! 🍝 Most of the time, we tried to eat affordably, whether that be making sandwiches or Chipotle. When we did decide to splurge, it was easy to find highly rated restaurants.

Our favorite meal, by far, was called The Mexican Camel, and this restaurant alone will forever make me read TripAdvisor reviews before dining out! It was affordable, delicious, and local, which was a refreshing break from chains. Even when I’m home I plan on using these reviews for when we look for places to eat out!

There are even more benefits if you become a TripAdvisor Plus member:

1. Become a Plus member and save $300 on your first trip.

woman on tripadvisor site

It costs $99 annually to become a TripAdvisor Plus member. Trust me – it’s so worth it! You’re guaranteed to save at least $300 on your first trip. We paid around $209 a night for Margaritaville in Orlando because of our membership. Directly on Margaritaville’s website, the same exact room was over $300 a night. We ended up saving over $900!! 🤯

If you’re not sure if you’re ready to become a Plus member, you can sign up for a 90-day risk-free trial. And if you don’t make any bookings during this time, you’ll get your money back. You have nothing to lose and only potential savings to gain!

2. Save 10% on excursions booked on TripAdvisor as a Plus member.

museum of illusions orlando

It was crucial for us to find some fun activities at the most affordable rate possible to keep our kiddos entertained. As a plus member, you’ll get 10% off all experiences on TripAdvisor’s “Things to Do” section. For us, we decided to go to the Museum of Illusions Orlando, which would usually be around $143 in total for the five of us. With the Plus discount, it was under $100, and we all had a blast!

3. Score perks exclusively for Plus members from TripAdvisor’s partners.

woman with jeep rental

As a Plus member, your benefits exceed TripAdvisor! This includes car rental and flight discounts. You can join the Dollar Flight Club, where you’re notified of the best deals to fly – all for a dollar a year! They’re also connected with Hertz, where you’ll be able to upgrade to Elite status and grab some member-only exclusive savings.

For our family, it just seemed more realistic and cost-efficient to rent a car, especially when comparing the ride share prices we’d have to pay to get everywhere. We had a limit of 50 miles a day, which was more than enough to get to and from the resort, shops, and other activities!

family at margaritaville orlando

I’m so glad my family was able to take this trip, not only to take advantage of visiting my husband while he assimilates into his new job, but to also spend some fun family time together without spending a fortune! I’d like to think I can do it all, but making the trip planning process simple with TripAdvisor was an affordable luxury I’ll continue to use for each and every trip. My Plus membership has paid for itself tenfold, and I can’t wait to see how much we can save on future trips!

Any recommendations for our next trip Hip2Savers?! 🏝🌆🏔

Stop overpacking with these packing tips!

About the writer:

Melinda has over 6 years of experience working in the frugal living and lifestyle online space. She has a BA in Journalism from the University of Connecticut and paid off over 50k in student loan debt with the help of couponing!

Join The Discussion

Comments 20

  1. KR

    Target is offering discount for TripAdvisor

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for sharing! Good to know! 💕🙌 It seems that offer may vary by account.

  2. Heather

    And it looks like you can get $7.50 cash back through Rakuten

    • Janell Poulette

      It’s $15 cash back at TopCashBack.com 🙂

  3. Ruth

    As someone who travels extensively, I just want to relay a word of caution – do not rely on only one website for your travel needs – the websites encourage using only one site for all of your arrangements because they make more money that way, but this rarely produces the savings advertised. As an example, some hotel chains provide free internet if you are a member of the program ( no charge to join) and book on the hotel website, otherwise you will pay extra. And this is the big reason you might want to consider booking directly with the airline and/or hotel – if there is a problem (and with airlines cancelling hundreds of flights each day, there are going to be many problems this summer and into the fall), and you booked using an outside agency, you need to contact the agency, and not the airline/hotel for a refund or other needs. I spend between 80 -100 nights each year on the road and my company allows us to book travel outside of the corporate travel office, however, we are on our own if there is a problem so I book very carefully. Before booking any airfare and/or hotel, I always look to see if there are any good deals and sometimes I am pleasantly surprised but for the most part unless you are purchasing a package deal, booking directly with the airline/hotel is the best bet. I love Trip Advisor and use them all the time and post reviews weekly of new places I have tried but in all my travels I have never found their prices to be better than booking directly, WHEN YOU ADD IN ALL THE EXTRA FEES. Be careful about that – what may seem like a great deal up front may not be such a deal when all the extra fees and taxes are added in. Safe travels!

    • Lauren

      We also travel extensively, and I 100% agree! Trip advisor is a great resource for research, but not ideal for booking.

    • Melinda (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Ruth! I can only speak to this experience that I just had with TripAdvisor Plus, but even after the minimal fees we still paid less than we would have booking directly through Margartiaville. I do understand that varies greatly from experience to experience and hotel to hotel. We sure appreciate you taking the time to leave your tips!

  4. Mia

    Melinda, your kids are SUPER CUTE! such a beautiful family 🙂

    • Melinda (Hip Sidekick)

      Aw, thank you Mia!! You made my day 🙂

  5. A.B.

    Hi does anyone have any tips for traveling economically with a larger family? There are 6 in my squad, and I’m pretty sure we exceed fire code, to stay in 1 room at a hotel! We do VRBO most of the time, but for short stays a hotel would be optimal. I love seeing the posts for resorts, and have looked at Disney, but am clueless as to how we’d navigate that! Thank you so much, in advance! 💕

    • Jen

      An authorized Disney Vacation planner can help you with Disney (they are free). Disney has some rooms that allow more in a room and they also have adjoining rooms which could be an option. We just went and had 6 in our group. If you need info for contacting a Disney vacation planner, let me know.

    • Jenessa

      Holiday Inn Club Vacations hotels usually accommodate larger families 🙂 We stayed at one in Cape Canaveral, 5 adults and 3 kids, there were two bedrooms, one king, 2 queens and a pull out sofa. Full kitchen and two bathrooms 🙂 Plus the had so much to do there, waterpark, movie theater, huge play place, arcade and restaurants so you really didn’t need to leave the property ! I found another one over in Clearwater we were thinking about visiting as well !

    • Kristina

      We stayed at Vista Cay resort in a three bedroom town house and it was awesome. My parents were on the main level and my husband and kids were up top. Easy drive to Universal, Sea World (highly recommend for older kids because they have rollercoasters now), and Disney world. Plus a pool with a pool bar and playground.

    • Jennifer Riede

      For accommodations, I would definitely try something like airbnb. Sometimes you can get a great place for larger groups way cheaper than you could get one hotel room

    • Sara

      On-property Disney World hotels that sleep 6:

      Family Suites at All Star Music

      Family Suites at Art of Animation

      Cabins at Fort Wilderness(has a deck and almost full kitchen-no oven)

      1 bedroom villas at the Deluxe and DVC(Disney Vacation Club) resorts(Boardwalk Villas, Beach Club Villas, Bay Lake Tower, Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, Boulder Ridge, Copper Creek, Polynesian Villas, Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House, Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village, Villas at Grand Floridian, Riviera) – The 1BR villas have a full kitchen and washer and dryer.

      connecting rooms at value resorts if available upon arrival-There is no way to guarantee this.

      If one of the 6 is under 3, then you can stay in rooms that sleep 5 at moderate and deluxe hotels. The under 3 would have to be in a crib/pack n play.

      None of these would be reasonable at the rack rate. It is only becomes somewhat reasonable when a discount is applied. I book a room at the rack rate and then try to apply a discount when it is released. General public discounts are released a few months before the annual passholder and Florida resident versions of those discounts. The date ranges for each season’s discounts varies from year to year.

      • A.B.

        Thank you all so much for the wonderful ideas! I’ve definitely been holding back from taking certain trips, because of our group size. I really appreciate y’all taking the time to comment! 💕

    • kymo

      I found Disney for large families and groups on fb (group) had a ton of advice, even down to what quick service had enough seating for a group (nothing worse than kids and food and not finding a table!). Plus how to make it more affordable. I saved 10% on the total trip!!

    • Sarah

      In general, if you can find a place with a suite, they usually have higher capacities (typically at least 6).

  6. Princess’Mom

    I don’t pay for the TripAdvisor membership but I have used the site for many years. Always check your hotel rate on their website directly before booking through TA or any other search engine. More often than not, I get a lower rate when going directly to the hotel site. I do love the TA reviews, though, and use them extensively when planning our trips! I keep lists of restaurants, activities, etc for every trip so that in the moment I’ve already got pre-approved options.

  7. Janet Townsend

    I always book directly with the hotel using AAA or AARP which gives me a discounted rate, and I carefully read the cancellation policy. Most hotels will let you cancel the day before with a full refund. Then I check the rates a few times before the trip. We just spent six nights in a hotel, and I was able to save $70 just by watching the rates. I had to cancel my original reservation and rebook at the lower rate, but for a savings of $70 for the exact same dates, same room type, it was worth it.

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