6 Simple Ways to Save Money on Your Next Family Vacation
Taking a family vacation, whether you do it over the holidays or at the height of summer, is a great way to let off steam and discover new ways of enjoying one another. That being said, it can also create financial stress, whether you’re a family of modest means or a family in the top tax bracket.
Saving money on travel, then, has becomes an almost universal quest for the vacationing family. Just as much art as science, there is more to the quest than clipping coupons, grabbing Groupons, and signing up for reward travel credit cards. Here are a few simple tricks to scoot up your sleeves that will help you save money on your next family vacation.
1. Go Off-Season
Most tourist destinations have a busy season and an off-season, and — thanks to the law of supply and demand — the prices of everything from hotel to airline tickets fluctuate accordingly. Save your family money by choosing a vacation destination that’s in the middle of a lull.
Regardless of when your family is planning to vacation, an off-season destination is always an option. From Madrid two weeks after the running of the bulls to Martha’s Vineyard in the fall, you can hit some fantastic destinations and save money by going when the crowds have thinned.
2. Pack Your Lunch
Food is one of the main pleasures of traveling to new and exotic places, but it’s also one of the most costly. While you shouldn’t entirely forego the wonderful experience of eating the food available at your destination, by packing lunches for most of your days’ outings, you can save hundreds of dollars, while still going out to eat for dinner.
If the thought of daily lunch-making is too overwhelming or difficult given your travel circumstances, at least pack your lunches the day you leave. If you’re flying, it will keep you from having to buy food at the airport, and if you’re driving, it will ensure you don’t succumb to fast food.
3. Collect. Don’t Buy
Buying souvenirs is a common way to mark places visited and experiences shared. However, it’s a line item you can easily remove from your family’s vacation budget if you get a little creative. Instead of buying your mementos, look for ways to collect them instead.
When you visit the beach, gather up seashells. If you’re hiking in the forest, be on the lookout for feathers or rocks with fossils in them. “Collect” bird and butterfly sightings, and record them in a family vacation notebook along with a sketch of each one. Above all, be creative, and you’ll find that simply removing the option to buy a souvenir opens up all sorts of unique opportunities to mark and preserve memories.
4. Save Your Change
Sometimes, saving money doesn’t have to involve an elaborate plan with elaborate calculations and elaborate sacrifice. Instead, it can be something even the smallest children in your home can do with you. At least a few months before you head out on vacation, set aside a large jar and start putting your change in it at the end of each day. While it probably won’t add up to a plane ticket, it will add up, and it will show your children the value of setting aside even a small amount of money in order to reach a financial goal.
5. Rent an Apartment or House
Especially if you’re going to be at your destination for more than a few days, look into renting a house or an apartment instead of just securing a couple of hotel rooms for your whole family. Off-season rates for vacation homes can be surprisingly affordable. Even if renting a whole house isn’t cheaper than a hotel at first glance, when you weigh the added benefits of having access to a kitchen where you can cook some of your meals, you may find you can save money and feel more comfortable to boot.
6. Get Cheap and Creative
Sometimes, the most memorable fun you can have in a place is the least expensive, but you have to plan ahead for it. Pack board games, decks of cards, puzzles, and chess boards and set up in coffee shops and parks wherever you vacation to. Plan scavenger hunts. Go on picnics. Take day hikes. Much of the wealth and wonder of a place is available without needing to pay much for it. By taking advantage of cheap and creative entertainment, you can spend good time with your family and fully experience the place you’re visiting.
Saving money on your next family vacation is a breeze when you put these six simple tips into practice.