Nothing says summer better than summer vacation! School is out for the year. The sun is shining. Kids are laughing and playing and the countdown to family vacation is on!
While you may have been pinching pennies throughout the year to make an annual family trip happen, here are some helpful tips for a cost effective summer family vacation.
1. Plan ahead. Don’t wait until the last possible minute to plan your trip. Talk about where you want to go earlier in the year, start the researching process and weigh out your options.
2. Travel During Down Time. Summer is such a popular time for families to travel, but avoid the busy roads and airports by planning your trip during an off-peak time. The beginning or the end of the summer are great times when people may not be out travelling and as a result, rates for hotels, campgrounds and flights also have lower prices.
3. Rent A Condo or Home For Your Stay Versus A Hotel. Unless you can find a decent hotel rate via thorough research, what our family has found is staying at a vacation home rented by their owners is very cost-effective. Rates for villas, condos or vacation homes can be rented directly from the owners for your desired stay. Often times, rates can be up to 50% LESS than nearby hotels. Not only that, but it will feel a little more like a home away from home.
4. Food costs can add up, especially if you are indulging in eating out for every meal or snacks. Instead of throwing your dollars out for expensive theme park snacks ($8 corn dog, anyone?), research the area for supermarkets. Doing a little grocery shopping once you reach your destination will not only save you money, but will be easier on your diet as well! Many hotels, resorts do have refrigerators in the rooms to take advantage of.
5. Make a list of free things to see. Whenever I want to go somewhere, the internet is my friend. I like to get on Google and research landmarks or things that are a “must see” in that particular area. For example when I went to New Orleans last year, I knew I had to see Bourbon Street. And, Jackson Square was also on my list. Both of these places did not cost me any money and I was happy I took the time to do the extra research and quite frankly, these are the things I most remember about my trip. Having a plan also keeps you on track.
6. Plan a trip with another family for your vacation. If you get along well with another family or can handle travelling with your extended family (yes, I’m talking about your mother-in-law), going on a trip together can help stretch your budget and alleviate some cost. Splitting cost on hotels or a condo or group discounts can be applied when you travel with a group of individuals.
7. Rely on locals. Whether you are staying at a hotel, resort or campground, the locals know best! They may know of events taking place while you are there, so do not be afraid to ask for recommendations!
8. Give the kids a budget. If you are travelling with kids, you can bet you will be asked for treats, toys and trinkets you may not be able to afford. If you can give each of the kids a reasonable amount of money to spend on what they want, then they decide how they want to spend their money for that day. Not only does it keep the money situation in check, but it teaches kids the value of the dollar.
Staycations are vacations too. If money is really tight, you don’t necessarily need to go far to have fun. Add local historical sites, aquariums, county fairs or kid-friendly museums to your family fun list. Create a theme for your staycation. How about a “city day”? A “country day”? A “backyard safari”? Pack up the car for a day and head out for some fun.
Have fun! Short on cash or just looking to save a few extra bucks while on vacation doesn’t have to be stressful. Remember the reason for your family trips. FAMILY! Enjoy the company of one another and make memories to last a lifetime.