Programs to Make Holiday Vacations More Affordable

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or another winter holiday altogether, it’s possible that you’re in the midst of preparing for a holiday vacation. Given the current state of the economy, you might also be trying to save as much money as possible, which could mean staying close to home. Fortunately, for Americans who plan to travel domestically (or foreigners who are already in the country), there are plenty of travel discounts available.

For flight, hotel, and rental car discounts, for instance, you can utilize websites like Expedia, Hotwire, Kayak, Orbitz, and Priceline. If you’re also interested in saving money on major tourist attractions, you might appreciate programs like CityPASS – which, as I explained in a recent three-part series, can spare you and your family quite a bit of money in 10 different U.S. destinations, including Hollywood, Southern California, Houston, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.

Of course, CityPASS isn’t the only program worth considering. Another option is VISITicket (800/490-9330), which features sightseeing and attraction passes in six U.S. locales: Honolulu, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Niagara Falls, New York City, and Washington, D.C. In Las Vegas, for example, you can purchase a five-day Power Pass ($174.99 adults, $114.99 children), which will grant you access to two dozen attractions, from a Hoover Dam Motor Coach Tour to a thrilling roller coaster ride at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino. Visitors to New Orleans will also save money with a five-day Power Pass ($174.99 adults, $119.99 children), which includes admission to 27 different attractions, from Audubon Zoo to Oak Alley Plantation to a daytime jazz cruise on the Steamboat Natchez. If you’re only planning short stays in any of these cities, be advised that VISITicket also offers cheaper passes for one-, two-, or three-day increments. No matter how long you end up staying, though, a VISITicket pass will surely save you time, as you’ll be able to skip most ticket lines; you may also be able to take advantage of special discounts, such as a slightly cheaper luau package at Hawaii’s Polynesian Cultural Center.

Yet another option for budget-conscious travelers is Smart Destinations (866/628-9036), which allows you to save money in a dozen different places: Oahu, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Chicago, Boston, New York City, Blue Ridge, Orlando, and Miami. With the Go Orlando Card, for instance, you can access nearly 50 attractions, from Dinosaur World to Gator Park Airboat Tours; you’ll also be able to skip the line at popular sights, take advantage of special discounts, and select one of five different packages, from one-day passes ($74.99 adults, $62.99 children) to seven-day deals ($229.99 adults, $184.99 children). If you purchase three-, five-, and seven-day passes by this Friday, December 23, you’ll save even more.

So, have you ever used such money-saving programs (whether these or others not mentioned)? If so, did you find them beneficial?

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