August 20, 2017

Summer Travel: 4 Discount Programs Worth a Second Look

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Summer travel season is nearly upon us. There’s no question that it’s not cheap to travel as a family, so I started to think about ways to save while maximizing the fun and learning factor as you explore new cities. So here are four discount programs that are worth a serious look.

Entertainment Book: The annual Entertainment Book is a great way to save money with coupons to use on entertainment and local attractions, as well as local dining, movie tickets and services. You’ll also find printable coupons at Entertainment.com. New books are released in the fall for between $25-$35 per city.

As the year goes on, the book price drops, so if you’re planning to travel this summer, now is a great time to pick up an Entertainment Book. I was just on the site yesterday and all books were only $12 with free shipping. You’ll frequently find deals, so keep your eyes open. Another to check out is the Enjoy the City discount book, which is also available with coupons to use in multiple parts of the country.

Go City Cards: Save up to 55% at multiple attractions in 11 family-friendly destinations in the U.S. and Canada, including Boston, Orlando and Toronto. Simply choose the number of days you’ll plan to visit a specific city, whether one, two, three, five or seven, then take up to two weeks to use those days to explore museums, tours and aquariums.

Just pay one rate, which depends on the city and the number of days you plan to explore. Then gain access to over 50 attractions in each city. In addition to free admission to multiple attractions, you’ll also receive free guidebooks, as well as dining and shopping discount coupons.

Or, try the Explorer Pass for New York or Las Vegas, which gives you the flexibility to choose the number of attractions you wish to see rather than the number of days you’ll be in a given city. Choose from three, five, seven and ten attractions, and even skip the line at some attractions.

Reciprocal Admissions Program: Become a member of your local zoo or aquarium and not only will you receive free or discounted admission to your local zoo or aquarium each time you visit, but you’ll also get free entrance to zoos and aquariums in other cities. Here’s a list of all participating zoos and aquariums, along with the discounts they offer. Call ahead to make sure the discounts are still being offered.

So, let’s say you purchase a one-year family membership at the Nashville Zoo for $85, you’ll not only save $51 each time you visit the zoo (two adults + two kids + parking), but you’ll also get free admission to the Houston Zoo and the Santa Barbara Zoo, among others. You’ll get a 50% discount at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, as well as the Dallas Zoo. I love taking my kids to the zoo, so if you’ll be headed to cities with participating zoos and aquariums this summer, consider a zoo membership.

Science Technology Passport Program: Similar to the above program for zoos and aquariums, the Association of Science Technology Centers offers the Passport Program, enabling families to gain access to more than 290 science centers nationwide for the price of a family membership to their local science center. Here is a list of participating science and technology centers.

To receive free admission, the participating science center must be located at least 90 miles from the science center where your family is a member. You must also bring the membership card from your own science center or museum. What a great way to experience science with your family wherever you go.

Keep your eyes open for zoo and science center memberships on the daily deal websites, like Groupon and LivingSocial. I recently got half-off a membership to the National Zoo in Washington, DC on BuyWithMe. I also saved 50% on a family membership to the Science Museum of Virginia on Groupon.

I’ll be exploring more ways to save on family travel in the future, but if you have ideas to share, please let me know.

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