With the stress of preparing for the holiday season now front and center, chances are you’ve already got the plans for your next family vacation percolating in the back of your mind. It may still be several weeks or many long months away, but that yearly trip is the one chance you have to get away from the chaos of busy work and school schedules and just be together as a family. And lounging on a beach or seeing some gorgeous destination from your bucket list for the first time doesn’t hurt either. But times are tight, and even with careful planning figuring out how to afford to whisk the whole crew away in comfort is harder than ever before. But as long as you think a bit outside the box and alter your traditional routine you should be able to find and fund the perfect trip for your needs. Here are five of the best tips to help save you money on your next family vacation.
When booking this next trip, remember to plan well in advance. This can help you out in a couple of different ways. Obviously there is the mental and emotional boost you’ll receive from knowing you’ve got a vacation ahead of you, even if it’s half a year away. But you’ll also have the advantage of setting a budget early and giving yourself the best chance to stick to it. Many of the big ticket items for your vacation (hotels, airfare, tours) post their best prices several months prior and just get more expensive the closer to the date you get. They don’t want any empty spots, so they’ll give early bookers that extra incentive. Also with many of the larger expenditures already locked in you can pay them off over time and avoid last minute surcharges or higher prices when you have no other choice.
Another great idea is skipping the fancy hotel for something a bit more practical. If you rent a house or an apartment at your destination for a week at a time you’ll always save over resort and hotel prices. You’ll have the added bonus of experiencing your travel destination more as the locals do, which could be a once in a lifetime opportunity for you and the kids. In addition, you’ll have the use of a full kitchen. Even if you don’t want to cook at home, this will allow you to keep drinks and snacks around, avoiding those impulse buys that really add up over a long trip.
Prior to hitting your vacation destination, look for sightseeing opportunities that will be free for the kids. Most museums you’ll find don’t charge for children under a certain age, and other attractions and restaurants will offer discounts for your kids as well. You may have to tailor your trip a little bit, but the savings will be more than worth it. And every free event you go to equals money you can then use for something special for the family later in the trip.
While it is tempting to be where the action is, if you can be a little flexible as to your family’s destination you can save some big money. Many popular tourist sites are far cheaper during the ‘off peak’ time of year, especially in parts of the world that have a rainy season. Don’t be afraid that means you’ll be stuck in the hotel room every day. Most destinations with a rainy season experience just an hour or so of rain each day and are gorgeous and green the rest of the time. Use that period as your nap break, and enjoy the savings. Other options include traveling mid-week instead of on the weekend or over the popular holidays.
Finally, use technology to your advantage. There are tons of free travel apps out there that will alert you to last minute deals that could vastly improve your vacation. Hop on the web and seek out those discount sites that offer cheapoair coupons and meal discounts. And keep that app open and on your hip while on your vacation as well. You may have to be flexible and willing to change some of your plans last minute, but you’ll usually be upgrading when you take advantage of these offers. And that is always worth the itinerary adjustment!