It’s a great big world out there, with so much to see and do. Paris! The Grand Canyon! Tokyo! A family vacation is one of the best ways to create lasting memories and see the world with some of your favorite people. However, if an upcoming family vacation has you seeing dollar signs instead of happy memories in the making, that can put a major damper on the trip. Here are some tips for planning a family vacation that won’t break the bank.
1. Choose a Destination Closer to Home If you are trying to save money, a lower key vacation closer to home or even a staycation could be just what the doctor ordered. When you vacation closer to home, not only will you save on travel and fuel costs, but you will also spend more time being there and less time getting there. With so many amazing destinations in the Pacific Northwest, the only problem you’ll have is choosing just one destination. A few of our favorite locations that can be budget friendly?
2. Opt for a Vacation Home Rather than a Hotel Hotel stays are often one of the priciest aspects of your vacation. And, if you are vacationing with the kids especially, you probably won’t want to spend much time at the hotel anyway. Instead, consider renting a vacation home for the duration of your stay. The pricing is reasonable (especially if you will need to book multiple rooms), and having access to a kitchen and refrigerator allows you to save money on food. Picky eaters will be particularly glad to know they can have their favorite foods, even while on vacation! Vacation rental sites like Air B&B, VRBO and Homeaway can offer great value.
3. Pack Some Edible Essentials Even if you opt to stay in a hotel or motel that doesn’t have a kitchenette, you can save on food costs by stocking up on staples like cereal, granola bars, fruit, and other snacks. Prices in vacation destinations can often be higher than what you are used to at home since they cater to tourists – a captive audience! Instead of paying higher prices, simply plan ahead and bring some key items with you.
4. Pick Your Dates Wisely The busiest travel weekends in the summer, July 4th and Labor Day, are also the most expensive. (Not to mention the most crowded!) If you have some flexibility in your schedule, plan your vacation well away from these hotspot dates.
5. Agree on a Budget. And Stick to It While vacation may be a time to let loose, it doesn’t mean you have to play fast and loose with your budget! The grown-up members of your family should definitely discuss how much they are comfortable with spending and also discuss who is going to be in charge of monitoring the budget. You may want to plan a few nice meals out and then build in some lower cost meals around them. Similarly, determine which activities on your agenda are the priciest, and then try to offset these activities with lower cost or free activities. Many museums and parks have free days and some venues even let kids in for free, so it certainly pays to do your research.
Kids can also become a part of the budget discussion. A great way to help kids focus on the important parts of your vacation (the activities rather than the material things) is to give each child a set amount that he or she is allowed to spend on souvenirs and treats. This helps kids learn the importance of thinking about what they really want and what they just want right now.
6. Be Patient It can be stressful to feel like you are passing up a great deal, especially when many vacation sites want to convince you that rooms, flights, and cars are going like hot cakes. When you want to make sure you find the best deal though, slow and steady often wins the race. Take the time to read reviews on the destination or lodgings that you are interested in and take advantage of some of the many travel comparison sites out there, as you may be able to find lower quoted prices.
Wherever your travels take you this summer, we wish you a safe, fun, and exciting journey! Planning a vacation on a budget can certainly be stressful, but it is still possible to balance what you want to do with what you are able to spend. Bon voyage!
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