So you want to take the spouse and kids on a fun-filled family vacation? Sure, it may take a lot of planning – but you don’t have to take out a second mortgage on your house to afford it. There are plenty of ways that you can cut corners on costs without reducing the quality of your trip.
10 Ways to Save Money on a Family Vacation
- Make your reservations early. Not only does this give you something to look forward to, but you may also get better rates on hotel rooms and rental cars. Plus, you may be able to pay off some of your vacation credit card bills before you actually take off on your trip!
- Sign up for an airfare tracking/updating website. Kayak, Airfare Watchdog, and similar sites let you enter in your destination and travel dates. Then they’ll send you email updates of airfares to give you an idea of whether costs are rising or falling. Plus, you’ll know about seat sales before anyone else does.
- Sign up for deal sites and e-newsletters. Travel newsletters will give you a heads up on deals before the general public gets wind of them. And those “daily deal” sites can sometimes offer drastic savings on hotels, attractions, or other vacation-related perks.
- Think outside the hotel box. Often, you can rent a house, apartment, or condo for a week and save a substantial amount of money. Not only will your total lodging costs be lower, but you’ll also save on eating out by buying food at grocery stores and preparing meals on your own.
- Invite another family along. Certain economies of scale (like renting a large house, for instance) may drive expenses down for both families. Also, you can make a deal for one couple to stay home with all of the kids while the other couple enjoys a quiet, romantic night out together.
- Look for free stuff at your destination. Museums, park events, and outdoor concerts are often free of charge, so be sure to put these on your vacation itinerary. You’d be surprised how some of the most memorable vacation moments are the ones which don’t involve a lot of money.
- Limit your restaurant spending. A good rule of thumb is to try and eat out only once a day. For other meals, have a picnic at a park or fix a meal in a kitchenette. If you’re driving, you can carry enough supplies for several meals in an ice chest.
- Be a discount sleuth. Check with local tourism bureaus for specials on area attractions. Leverage your group memberships (like AAA, AARP, etc.) to see what discounts you can find. You can even buy a coupon book that offers a wide variety of entertainment savings.
- Steer clear of weekend flying. Generally speaking, airfares are cheaper on most weekdays than they are on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. In addition, you’ll likely experience shorter lines at airport ticket counters and security screening lines – and the flights themselves might be less crowded as well.
- Avoid the mini-bar like the plague. But you knew that already.
written by: Chris Martin
Image courtesy of Nokhoog_Buchachon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net