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Since I married my husband in 2012, we made a promise to each other (okay I kinda push for it) to try and take a vacation on our anniversary. We certainly aren’t rolling in the money but do alright. And more importantly, know how to stretch our dollars.

My husband thinks I’m crazy but the truth is we don’t go anywhere without a LivingSocial or Groupon deal in hand. Quite frankly, it’s the only way I roll these days as I refuse to pay full price for something I can get for less.

On our first anniversary we spent five nights and six days in New Orleans. I found a really awesome deal at a quaint hotel in the Garden District that gave us the right amount of privacy away from the French Quarter craziness. With the exception of hitting up a few spots we saw on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, almost all of our dining options were purchased on a flash sales site.

For our second anniversary we stayed somewhat close to home and went down to Cape May, New Jersey. This trip was a wee bit tricky considering we had our three-month-old son in tow. Thankfully I was able to score a three-night deal at a bed and breakfast along the Jersey shore. They even hooked us up with a detached cottage from the main house that gave us additional privacy. Like our New Orleans trip, the majority–if not all–of our meals were purchased on a flash sales site that made our stay even more affordable.

With a little over a month to go before our third wedding anniversary, I’m in the process of finalizing our mini getaway to the Texas Hill country. With a baby on the way in late May (we’ve been a little busy) and moving cross country to the Oklahoma area less than a year ago, we made the choice to stay somewhat close to home again. Like our other trips, I found lodging ($155 for two nights at a bed and breakfast ain’t bad) and am currently working on the food part.

Using deals from flash sales sites has made yearly vacations and travel an affordable reality. Sure there are times when we need to save for things like plane tickets and international travel, but if you do your research, you can really have a wonderful vacation. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way.

  • Have a date in mind, but be flexible. I’ve been lucky to find great deals that fall around the time I’d like to travel. This doesn’t mean I’m not flexible. If it came down to leaving earlier or later than expected to save money, I’d do it.
  • Keep checking deals… even last minute. Sometimes you aren’t going to find what you’re looking for right away. That doesn’t mean give up. Keep checking flash sales sites for deals on the regular (I look weekly) to make sure you don’t miss out on new or soon to end opportunities.
  • Check reviews! Don’t just trust a pretty picture and nice wording! I look on everything from Yelp to TripAdvisor to see what others had to say, look at photos from customers and learn more about a property. It’s important to look at multiple sites as some will reveal a top-rated getaway or restaurant isn’t worth the purchase–and vice versa.
  • Read the fine print. As a new mom I never assume it’s okay to bring my child, especially if a voucher says for two people. Always make sure you read the fine print so you’re aware of any limitations and black out dates.
  • Get everything in writing. Try to get an email confirmation when reserving your flash sales deals. If we’re booking a hotel, I always make sure I have in writing our dates of travel and the okay to bring our child.
  • Look for extra perks. I always try to purchase Groupon deals as they have a relationship with Sallie Mae’s Upromise site that can link to your child’s 529 college savings plan. Products or services purchased by certain retailers add a certain percentage of the sale back to your child’s account, which is awesome for building up money.

all photos courtesy of Tanvier Peart

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