Are you looking for a family vacation for a budget-friendly price? Taking a vacation with your family does not mean you have to break your budget, especially if you are flexible about the timing. When planning a budget-friendly family getaway, you will need to arm yourself with knowledge of packaged deals and last-minute savings opportunities.
First, focus on the benefits of what a vacation will mean to the entire family. Each person will most likely have a different idea of where they would like to go and what they would like to do. Even so, don't forget the unseen benefits of a family getaway. Some of those unseen benefits are:
- Relax and break free from everyday routines.
- Take time to communicate with each other.
- Experience new things and visit new places.
- Make lasting memories together as a family.
Budget-Friendly Family Vacation Money Saving Strategies
If traveling by air, sign up for online fare alerts
Begin your vacation planning by signing up for alerts at travel websites. A simple online search for travel websites will bring up many options to choose from. One of the quickest ways to compare airfares is to simply type your departure and destination airports in the search bar of your favorite web search engine. For example, if you are flying from Atlanta to Dallas, you would enter "ATL to DFW." You will almost instantly get a list of airlines and their fares for the given route. You can also customize the date to compare fares for weekend versus weekday travel.
Search for airfares on a weekday
Travel insiders say that the single best time to find a deal is on Tuesday at 3 pm EST. This seemingly is when the airlines put flights on sale. This advice does not typically apply when needing to travel around holidays.
Hotels will be a significant expense
You can search multiple hotel booking sites at once using a website like goSeek. It will list the best deals from hundreds of providers. But, goSeek gives you something extra as they automatically input active coupon codes to show you deals other sites don't. You can also filter the results by Coupons, Mobile, Senior citizen discounts, AAA automobile club, and more.
Think outside the hotel room
Large families may want to consider renting a vacation home. Vacation homes typically have more space and can accommodate more people at a much lower price. Use sites like Airbnb and HomeAway to see an extensive list of rental homes all over the world.
Families that are adventurous can find comfortable, low-cost travel alternatives all over the United States that make for an exciting vacation. You might also want to consider campsites. If your family loves the outdoors and camping or traveling in an RV, you can find amazing campsites on ReserveAmerica. This site also provides information about available day-use facilities and picnic areas.
Determine transportation needs
Determine whether you will need a rental car or whether there is public transportation available for your needs. You can do comparison shopping for rental cars at online sites like TripAdvisor or Discount USA Car Rental.
Plan ahead for food options
Typically, restaurants can put a massive dent in your travel budget, plus gas-station mini-marts and fast-food restaurants aren't known for their nutritious food. You should visit a local grocery store when you reach your destination and stock up on items for quick and easy breakfasts and lunches, like cereal, fruit, bread, and sandwich meat. If there are specific restaurants you'd like to visit, consider going during lunch hours instead of dinner hours as you can often order the same meal at a lower price.
Take advantage of off-season pricing
Many vacation destinations offer off-season pricing. Some vacation destinations can be more charming, more relaxing, and less expensive during off-peak times because there are fewer tourists around.
Budget-Friendly Family Vacation Ideas
Enjoy a State or National Park Vacation
Our national park system offers an affordable way to visit some of the country's most beautiful landscapes. National parks preserve natural and cultural resources for the public to learn about, experience and enjoy. State parks offer another affordable vacation that allows you to reconnect with nature. Many state parks offer overnight camping and lodging and may also provide many family fun activities like hiking, biking, boating, fishing, and more.
The nation's capital can be an expensive place to live, but you can vacation relatively inexpensively. You can stay in a hotel outside of the city to save money and then take DC's rail system (the Metro) into the city. Many of the attractions are free. Once you are near the National Mall, you'll want to check out the iconic government buildings like the Capitol, the White House, and the Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington, and King memorials. You'll also want to explore the National Air and Space Museum (cool NASA stuff!), Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian's National Zoo, among many others.
If your family enjoys sending time at a beach, there are a few ways to cut down on costs. First, don't stay right on the beach. Beachfront properties tend to cost more because of their location. Staying just across the street from the beach can save you hundreds of dollars. If you rent a house, you can cook instead of dining out. This can save you hundreds of dollars over the entire vacation. You can also share the house with additional family or friends and cut down on the overall cost per person. The great thing about a beach vacation is that it is free to spend time in the water and on the beach.
A volunteer vacation, sometimes called service vacation or voluntourism, is a vacation where you do for others instead of doing for yourself. Many of these types of vacations offer free room and board; however, you are responsible for your travel. Be sure you research the available options to find one your entire family would enjoy. A simple online search for volunteer vacations provides a list of opportunities available. Once you have found a company with a program that interests everyone, you should do additional research to make sure it makes sense for you. Make sure you have access to program alumni in case you want to talk to someone about their experience. Be aware that you should never have to pay to get any program information. Do not send money until you are securing your reservation. Also, make sure it is professionally planned and led. Be sure to check the age requirements before you apply, so you don't waste time and money traveling to programs that are not open to the entire family.
Don't forget about a Staycation
Depending on where you live, you can get the vacation experience without the travel expense. You can enjoy day trips that do not require overnight accommodations, and if done right, it can be a restful and fun "real" vacation. A staycation gives an opportunity for you and your family to do something out of the ordinary and visit new places around town.
Another great reason to do a staycation is there is no packing and no chance of forgetting to pack something. The secret to enjoying a staycation is to make sure you disconnect from daily activities and embrace your vacation. If during your vacation you like going out to eat, then treat yourself and do the same on your staycation. Don't do any household chores. Have fun!
Whatever type of vacation you decide to take, remember that there are many options to plan a budget-friendly family vacation. The object of a vacation is to create memories with your family.
Paying for Your Family-Friendly Vacation on a Budget
Once you plan and budget your vacation, then you should take the time to figure out how to pay for it. There are many options aside from depleting the family savings account. For example, you may be able to use a credit card or an unsecured, short-term loan. Regardless of your choice, you should make sure to read all applicable documents and understand exactly much interest or what other charges might apply.