If money woes have you on the fence about taking a family vacation this spring, take heart. There are still lots of ways to enjoy a budget-friendly getaway. Peggy Arnao-Lopez, mom of a 2- and 3-year-old in New York City, plans to use her teacher discount to book a Disney package. "I want to make the most of whatever specials are out there," she says. Here are a few ways you can do the same.
Use privileges you already have What's in your wallet? Probably a few discounts. A Bank of America ATM, credit or debit card is good for free admission to about 120 zoos, science centers, botanical gardens and museums across the U.S. on the first weekend of every month (museums.bankofamerica.com). If you're a AAA member, you can save up to 20 percent on Hertz car rentals and up to 40 percent on tickets to theme parks, including Sesame Place, Six Flags and Busch Gardens (aaa.com).
Pack the apps For $2, road-trippers can download the "Lowest Gas Prices Finder" app onto an iPhone to find the cheapest gas prices. Plug in your area's zip code, and a list of nearby gas stations with the best prices -- and a map on how to get to them -- pops up. Another good one: Mobile Magic, a $10 app for Verizon Wireless customers that tracks wait times for popular rides at Disney World as well as the whereabouts of Mickey, Cinderella and more characters.
Consider cruising Reduce dining expenses and the stress of planning activities and outings with an all-inclusive cruise. Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's largest and newest ship, offers play groups, craft workshops and sea-friendly science experiments in its Youth Zone, dedicated to kids 6 months and older. Babysitting is available for tots ages 1 and up for $10 to $15 per hour (royalcaribbean.com).
Teach and save Teachers with the travel bug, take note: The government wants to chip in for your vacation. Full-time teachers and faculty at accredited institutions can sign up for an International Teacher Identity Card (ITIC), which is good for reduced airfare on major airlines, discounts on hotel accommodations and car rentals, and basic insurance in case of sickness or accident (travel.state.gov).