The Ultimate Vacation Planning Guide: Smart Tips for Finding A Deal

Snag the lowest price on your next trip plus learn what you can get for free. 
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Use technology to find your vacation bargain.

Check out these sites and apps before you book your trip:

Kayak.com's Flight Search
Type in where you'd like to go and your dates—with a plus-or-minus-three-days window—for the best shot at scoring a deal. The site can suggest whether you should pounce on your fare today or hold out for a lower one.

Hotelwatchdog.com
Once you enter your destination,  you receive a list of 20 "best value" hotels chosen for price, proximity to local attractions, and ratings.

Destinations on Google
It's a new feature of your Google app or mobile browser. Type in an idea of where you'd like to go, using the word "destinations." For example, if you searched for spots in Florida, you'll get travel listings on dozens of cities and attractions. Hit one and click on the "Plan a Trip" tab that allows you to find the best price for airfare and hotel combined. You enter the number of travelers and duration of the trip for a bar graph of lowest prices over several months.

Tansler.com
It's like Priceline, but for vacation rentals. You name the price you want to pay per night, choose at least two homes from the site's inventory of 500,000-plus homes, and send the offer to the host. The first host to accept your bid wins. The offer expires if not accepted in 24 hours.

Take advantage of discounts and freebies.

Our four favorite ways to save:

* The National Park Service is waiving the entrance fees to all of its attractions from August 25 to 28, 2016.

* Bank of America or Merrill Lynch customers can show their credit or debit card and a photo ID for free entrance to participating museums on each month's first full weekend.  Get the details

* On select days, Target picks up all or part of the tab for admission to attractions in nearly every major city.  Go to corporate.target.com and search for community events.

* Your local children's museum membership may get you a discount to other kids' museums.  

Learn more about how to plan the ultimate vacation:

Parents Magazine

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