Planning a budget-friendly family vacation takes time. You need to determine the length of your trip, set a feasible budget, research various vacation destinations, and make any reservations needed — and all of this needs to happen before you even start making packing lists for each member of your family. To keep the process simple, check out these tips.Five tips for saving money the next time you go on a family trip.Take a look at my top budget-friendly family vacation.
Determine an Affordable Amount of Your Trip
Before you do anything else, determine how much money you can reasonably afford to save from the time you start planning until it’s time to start paying trip-related expenses. This way, you know approximately how much your family can afford to spend on a trip.
To do this, subtract the amount of money you spend each month from the amount of your monthly income. Then, multiply that amount by the number of months left until your it’s time for your trip. This gives you an estimated amount you can afford to spend on your vacation — including the cost of accommodations, transportation, entertainment, dining, and shopping.
Increase the amount of money available for your trip by cutting costs in other areas of your budget and including a portion of lump sum payments you receive before your trip — such as part of your income tax refund.
Book a Vacation Rental to Save Money
To cut lodging expenses, check the rates of local vacation rentals before booking a hotel. For example, when planning a trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina, check the rental rates for Sea Pines vacation rentals for the week. Chances are, you’ll get a cheaper rate for a place in a good location, and it gives you the option to cook meals at your rental instead of constantly dining out.
If you have your heart set on visiting a popular vacation destination, you could also save money by choosing a vacation rental instead of a room at a local hotel or resort. Often hotels and resort located at or near popular attractions — such as Disney World or Myrtle Beach — cost a pretty penny. Unless you really need the amenities offered on-site, choose a more cost-effective hotel or a vacation rental instead.
Choose Your Vacation Destination Wisely
Families gravitate towards popular family vacation destinations because they offer kid-friendly amenities and activities. Unfortunately, the more popular the destination, the more your trip costs.
If you want to keep things really simple, look for less-popular destinations. It’s easy to find affordable, fun options. A few to consider include:
- Hershey Park, Pennsylvania, instead of Disney World
- Ocean City, Maryland over Atlantic City, New Jersey
- La Jolla, California, instead of San Diego
- Williams, Arizona, instead of Flagstaff or Phoenix
Also, choose a destination that’s close to home and make it a road trip if possible. When you’re paying for multiple people to travel, it’s typically cheaper to drive than it is to pay for plane tickets and a rental car.
Consider Peak and Off-Peak Travel Seasons
Every destination has peak and off-peak travel times — and vacations are more expensive when you travel during peak travel season. So if you can travel during an off-peak travel time, do it. It saves you money on your transportation and accommodation costs. It’s also possible to get discounted tickets to more popular attractions when you travel during the off season.
Plan Your Daily Activities
It might sound odd to plan out your activities while you’re on vacation, but a little advance planning could save you quite a bit of money — especially if you’re visiting a destination that’s jam-packed with costly attractions. When planning your daily activities consider:
- Visiting any area attractions or local events with free admission.
- Planning your time spent at costly attractions so that you see as much as possible in the least amount of time.
- Planning activities so that you have time to eat breakfast and dinner at your vacation rental instead of dining out.
If you take the time to create a detailed plan for your vacation and follow any money-saving tips you find, it’s actually fairly easy to plan a budget-friendly family vacation. In fact, implementing enough money-saving tips and learning how to find deals might save you enough money to afford your family vacation and a weekend getaway later in the year.