This frugal family watches its spending. They avoid pricey things like new cars. When possible, they keep their travel plans flexible. When their flight is overbooked, they sometimes volunteer to give up their seats in exchange for freebies.
Martha offers this bit of advice: "Excedrin and deep breathing work. Wine helps. No -- I'm teasing."
Monica has another tip for Americans traveling in groups: If your companions start embarrassing you, pretend to be Canadian or Australian. "Our family can be pretty loud," says Monica. "We don't want America to look bad."
But seriously, here are a few more tips courtesy of the Disbergers:
--Plan for the worst, says Dennis. Have contingencies for missed connections. Then when something happens, execute your options.
--If you need to book new flights after missed connections, don't wait in line for an airline counter representative. Use the airline customer phone service. --Always keep your keys and cell phone and charger with you. Don't pack them in your luggage. You might lose them.
Disberger tips for traveling with toddlers:
--During flights, air pressure changes can turn kids crabby. Solution: give them lollipops. Toddlers will stay focused on the pops instead of the uncomfortable shifts in air pressure.
--Introduce your toddlers to the flight attendants.
-- Give toddlers something to look forward to. The Disbergers gave their toddlers gifts when their flights reached the ocean. These "over-the-water" gifts have become a beloved Disberger tradition that extended from the kids' childhood into adulthood.
Traveling with teens:
--Let them be in charge of some of the decisions, including where to go next, what to do or where to eat, says Dennis. Give them time to enjoy themselves with their iPods or a book. Dennis says he would pay his traveling teens from $2-$5 per each 500 miles to ride in coach. It allowed mom and dad the luxury of first class. It also offered their teens some time alone, while giving them a chance to earn a little money.
Saving on hotel rooms:
--Cash in hard on hotel promotions. The Disbergers are loyal customers of Hyatt and Hilton. One promotion offers a free room after checking in two times. "Stay at hotels in business locations on the weekend when occupancy levels are really low -- and the price is commensurately low," says Dennis. Add an AAA discount and then move to another Hyatt Place for night No. 2. After a couple of weekend trips "you've just earned a couple of free nights in the Park Hyatt Paris." When Hyatt's not available, "We do the same thing with Hilton."
--In some markets, a second set of rooms for the kids can be inexpensive. "When the kids were younger, we used the Hyatt 'family plan' set of connecting rooms," says Disberger. "Then when we check in we offer to let the hotel take back both rooms for a suite upgrade."
Families change and the Disbergers are no exception.
As the children move into their 20s, Dennis says they're still as interested as ever in traveling as a family, although college schedules have made travel planning more complicated.
And now that Joel has a career of his own as an oil industry field engineer, Dennis says he'll expect "more participation financially" from him and his sisters as they advance into their working lives.
But hey, thanks to their airborne childhoods, the younger Disbergers already are million-milers getting double miles with lifetime gold airline status.
Do you come from a traveling family? Share your tips for international travel with kids below.