Simply follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to making memories — and saving some serious cash.
Some of the most memorable vacations are those that are well thought-out in advance. And often, a well-planned family vacation can end up also being an affordable family vacation. Planning a family vacation on a budget may sound difficult and time-consuming, but it’s actually quite easy. Simply follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to making memories — and saving some serious cash.
1. Consider Your Timing.
If you have any flexibility with your timing, use that to your advantage. For example, flying midweek — Tuesdays and Wednesdays, in particular — and with a stop or two (versus direct) can save you hundreds of dollars on your family’s airfare. Follow your airline on Twitter to track any last-minute deals. Also, look on sites like Kayak, Cheapflights, Orbitz and Expedia to compare prices. Be sure to check your airline’s policy on baggage fees and consider packing less to save on the extra costs. Likewise, traveling during off-peak seasons can save some serious dough. Have to travel in the summertime? Do a little research to see what your destination’s most popular weeks are and schedule your vacation just before or after those weeks to help you save.
2. Shop Around.
Through the magic of the internet, the world is literally at your fingertips. Lucky for you, that means you can compare prices online for everything from hotel rooms to rental cars. Some of the more popular travel comparison sites are Orbitz and Expedia. But sites like Airfare Watch Dog can send you alerts when airlines have sales. And sites like Better Bidding allow you to find out what other travelers paid for rooms in major cities using name-your-own-price sites like Priceline or Hotwire, allowing you to bid those prices — and likely get them accepted — for your stay.
3. Take Advantage of Coupons and Other Discounts.
Coupons go a long way, when it comes to family vacations on a budget. Just as you would search for deals in your hometown — when you’re saving money with a “staycation,” for example — visit sites like Groupon or Living Social to see what kinds of discounts you can score on food and activities at your vacation destination. Likewise, visit coupon websites, like The Krazy Coupon Lady, consistently before your vacation to get more travel deals and to stock up on all of your travel essentials with coupons before the big trip. Are you a member of a warehouse club? A military member? Or a student? You may be eligible for other discounts, as well.
4. Reach Out to Locals.
Renting an entire house can often be more cost-effective (and comfortable) than paying for multiple hotel rooms, especially if you’re traveling with a large family. Consider using VRBO or Airbnb to score a great deal on an individually owned place. In addition to providing a great place to stay at a great price, many of these owners can also give you first-hand knowledge and advice for getting the best deals in the area throughout your stay.
5. Think Bite-sized.
In addition to scoring discounts on your travel expenses, one of the biggest impacts you can make on your wallet is to create a vacation budget and start putting money aside as soon as the urge to travel hits you. If you start setting a small, totally feasible amount of money aside when you begin planning the perfect vacation, you can end up potentially saving a considerable amount. Consider this: If you start planning for a vacation four months before your travel dates, and you put aside $100 each week, you’ll end up with more than $1,500 toward your travel expenses!
6. Try Something New
Today’s camping resorts offer more than tents. In fact, some offer accommodations that are downright luxurious. The glamping (glamorous camping) trend has changed how people camp by offering the upscale amenities typically not associated with roughing it. Today’s camping resorts may also offer swimming pools, game rooms, mini-golf courses and more recreational options on the cheap. For more information, visit websites like Reserveamerica.com, GoCampingAmerica.com and glampinghub.com.
Or, camp at a national or state park, where Mother Nature offers splendid views, wildlife, plants and flowers, and all kinds of family activities, like hiking and swimming. For more information visit nationalparks.org.