The family vacation is an annual rite of passage, one where mom and dad pack up the car, pile in the kids and head down the road for a week or two away from home. These days, families are just as likely to head to the airport to begin their trip, perhaps taking in a timeshare or hooking up with a cruise to mix things up.
Family vacations can bust any budget, but you can save money on your next vacation, provided that you plan early and begin setting aside some cash right now. Our how to tips can be taken individually or collectively to yield the biggest savings for you and your family.
1. Hold a family meeting. Why not get everyone’s input this year on where the family will be vacationing? Unless you have property at the shore or a timeshare in the mountains, you may want to consider a new option. Gather the family together, ask for their input and then choose a vacation that everyone agrees on and one that you can afford.
2. Make reservations early. Early planning will save you money. That is why many people make their summer reservations the winter before. In some cases a full year earlier. If your vacation involves a trip to a theme park, get online to learn if there are early booking discounts available. Consider discounts that might be available through your place of work, or through AAA and AARP. Search for coupon codes and use these when buying your tickets.
3. Start saving money. Sit down and budget what your vacation will cost you. Add up the cost of your hotel stay or home rental, meals, transportation to and from your destination and all related costs. If your total is $2,400 for example, then begin to save toward that amount. If you vacation is 24 weeks away, then you must set aside $100 per week toward your trip. Once your vacation is over, start saving for your next one. Set up a vacation account and diligently fund it week after week.
4. Shop early, begin packing. Plan to buy most everything you need before you leave. If your trip involves domestic travel by car, you can bring it with you. If you are flying, then consider the cost of checking your baggage. If you are traveling internationally, then you will have to restrict what you can bring with you. Shop for clothing, beach supplies and other items early. You will have numerous sales opportunities from now until when you are to leave.
5. Bring along your food. Vacationers traveling to the shore or mountain can save a bundle by bringing most of their food with them. Shop ahead, with plans to bring most of the food that you will need while away. For perishables, you can fill up a cooler and ice everything down. If you’re worried about your food spoiling, include a small block of dry ice. Fill your prescriptions before hitting the road. Bring along important phone numbers including your physician information. Your health insurance cards should be up-to-date too.
6. Consider the shoulder months. Family vacations can get expensive, especially if your trip away is in July or August when most Americans decide to go away. If your school or personal schedule allows for it, consider the shoulder months to take your trip. June travel costs are generally lower than July and September travel is lower than August, especially after Labor Day. If you are taking a cruise, choose an all-inclusive cruise in the off-season. Your costs can come in lower than the vacation stay at the beach. Save money on your cruise by booking an inner cabin too.
7. Cut your accommodations cost. If you are strapped for cash and need a place to stay at a lower cost, always opt for the cabin over the hotel. If possible, stay with someone you know at or near your destination. If you live in an area that may be desirable for visitors, then consider a house swap.
When flying to your destination, you can save money on your vacation costs by bundling your package. That means including your airfare, hotel stay and car rental in one package to gain the best possible savings across the board. Finally, don’t over schedule yourselves. Your time away should be relaxing with a focus on enjoying each other’s company and returning home refreshed.
Jay Allen writes for Lazydays, a RV Superstore which offers recreational vehicle enthusiasts a place to search motorhomes for sale, stay at a campground, or service their RV.