Summer vacations are great times for families to bond together. Trips away from routine activities allow parents to spend more time with their children and create lifelong memories.
But if you’re like most people, you’re worried about how much it’s going to cost. Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!
Thinking of good ways to save money on your next family vacation can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips to help you keep costs down without sacrificing any of the fun.
How to Save Money on Your Next Family Vacation
Whether you’re looking for affordable activities or ways to cut back on spending, or want to plan a Disney vacation on a budget, these tips will help you save money while enjoying your trip. So pack your bags and get ready for a budget-friendly vacation!
Booking early is one of the cardinal rules of saving money on travel, so try to book your accommodations and travel as soon as you know your dates for your family spring break vacation.
It’s all about supply and demand, so as Spring Break approaches and everything gets booked up, what’s left is always priced at a premium.
But if you book early, you can get sometimes get discounts, you’ll have more options and you may even be able to use your travel points and rewards.
Be flexible with your vacation time
Spring Break travel is always busy and hectic, there is no getting around that.
Try and adjust your travel to start or end on a weekday, or arrange to take an extra day off of school and work at the beginning or end so that you place your vacation just outside everyone else’s.
By planning your trip during the week, you can often save money on transportation costs.
Try alternate ways to get there
Most people look to air travel when planning trips, but using an alternative method may be less expensive and offer a fun new experience for your family.
If you’re willing to travel by road, you can expand your vacation party and carpool with friends or family members who live nearby, which can cut down on the cost of gas. Plus, it’ll be a chance for everyone to bond and chat during your drive.
Alternatively, you could try the train. It may take a little longer, but it is often less expensive than flying (and potentially more comfortable), and it also has an element of novelty that’s sure to make for an interesting story when you get back home!
If you absolutely need to fly, remember you always have the option of getting creative with your routes! If you need to fly to Chicago, look into Midway instead of O’Hare, or LaGuardia instead of JFK if traveling to New York City. Different airlines may offer specials into and out of the smaller hubs.
Look for deals
As long as you’re flexible with your dates and destinations, there’s always a way to find a good deal. You can use tools like Google Flights and Kayak Explore to see what prices are like at different times throughout the year.
Sites like Flightfox will even help you find less expensive flights by comparing prices used by expert travelers. Just make sure to double-check the websites of the airline or hotel directly since they may have their own deals without requiring a coupon code.
Stay outside the city center
If you’re looking to save money, staying on the outskirts of the city center is almost always going to be less expensive.
Sleeping arrangements can also be much less expensive and more comfortable for families by finding a house or condo rental instead of cramming yourselves into a hotel room.
This also allows you to save money on food with a kitchen instead of eating out at restaurants all the time. And if you are lucky enough to score a place with a washer and dryer, you can pack less by doing your own laundry!
Skip the car rental
Many times it’s cheaper to just use public transportation instead of getting a rental car, especially if you’re staying within city limits. Plus, when you don’t have the added cost of gas and parking, you can save more money for fun activities with your family.
There are many cities where renting a car won’t be necessary at all if you pick a central location or a destination with good public transportation options.
You could even take advantage of free shuttles to get around town. Traveling to the city center on buses or trains can be a great way to explore a new place.
Learn local transportation options
So now that you’ve decided to skip renting a car before you arrive in a new city or country, you’ll want to do a little bit of research so you know exactly what public transportation is available from where you’ll be staying.
Getting to know the bus routes and timetables before setting out means there’s no time wasted trying to figure it all out once there.
Be wary of hidden fees
When booking hotels, always pay attention to whether there are any extra fees attached to your room.
Many hotels will charge hefty resort fees that were not explicitly included in the original price quote so do your research first and read between the lines to avoid unpleasant surprises when you get to the hotel.
Try a Home Swap
Home swapping is a great way to explore new places all around the world without breaking the bank. Even better than renting your house is a straight-up home swap.
You trade lodging with another family, and they stay in your house while you stay in theirs. No one has to pay for hotels. Plus, your home won’t be left unattended and you’ll get to experience your destination like a local.
Redeem your frequent flyer and hotel reward points
If you’ve been collecting your hotel and airline reward points, make sure to redeem them before you go! You can often find great deals on flights and rooms by using those rewards.
Just be aware that if you’re looking at a pricey location, these rewards will go much further during off-peak times of the year rather than high season. You’ll also want to check as far in advance as possible because rooms and flights reserved for rewards booking sell out quickly.
Some frequent flyer programs will let you use points for flights on partner airlines or even combine reward points across multiple programs. It’s also possible to transfer hotel loyalty points into other travel programs including Amtrak rewards.
Be flexible with your plans
Staying flexible while at your destination will save you a lot of money and stress when it comes to vacationing with kids. Nothing is more frustrating than having specific ideas and expectations for fun and spending money that just doesn’t mesh with reality.
Instead, be open to changing your itinerary if the new plan saves time or money while still meeting everyone’s needs. Plus, children appreciate spontaneity! Some of the best adventures happen on days when nothing seems to go as planned. So be open to just letting go and letting the vacation just happen.
Visit free attractions
Don’t forget about all of the great free things available in most major cities like art galleries, museums, parks, beaches, and monuments. They may not be as flashy as some local tourist attractions but they’ll still provide hours of entertainment without eating up your budget.
They are a good way to give your family some “downtime” between more active or expensive activities. You may also be able to find discounted passes for some of the paid attractions in your area. Check your local tourist office or visitor center to see what they offer.
Don’t give in to souvenirs
When vacationing, you want to have fun and create memories – it’s not about buying a bunch of things that will just sit in your house once the trip is over. This is a great chance for you to spend time with your family and create new shared experiences!
We all love taking home mementos of our family vacations but avoid getting caught up in purchasing them for our children. They are often overpriced items that don’t add any value or meaning to the experience.
Just have fun!
Above all else, remember to have a good time. Spending time with your family is really what vacation is all about. Even if it isn’t exactly how you planned it, an impromptu adventure away from home is sure to be filled with memories everyone involved will cherish forever.
Hopefully we’ve given you a few solid ways to save money on your next family vacation that you can implement painlessly. Even if you can just follow a few of these tips, you’ll have the time of your life with less worry about how much everything is going to cost!