One of the biggest budget family travel tips is to travel offseason. Typically, the most expensive times to travel during the year are when kids have school vacations. It can also be when you’ll deal with the biggest crowds.
However, if you have kids in school, and can’t let them miss any dates for vacation, traveling in the offseason can be impossible. The older that kids get, the more difficult to get away, even for an extra day. If you are working within the constraints of school vacation, there are still things that you can do to save money on your trip. Here are budget family travel tips for school vacations that may be able to help you.
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Budget Family Travel Tips For School Vacations
Play Around With Dates
You may not be able to travel in the offseason, however, you can play around a little with dates. For instance, on our February vacation trip to Puerto Rico last year, we saved over $1000 in airfare (total) by leaving on the Sunday of vacation and returning on the Friday. In my experience, a Saturday to Saturday trip over a vacation week is the most expensive. If the kids are able to miss one or two days, you may consider leaving on vacation early.
Skip the airfare all together and road trip to your destination. We did that for spring break two years ago, and drove to Washington, DC. It was a great way to save money on airfare, and we didn’t need a rental car at our destination.
For longer trips, consider breaking up the drive and staying in a hotel halfway to your destination. That’s also a great way to see something else on your vacation. Look at various small cities that may have one or two attractions that you are interested in.
Stay in Extended Stay Hotels
Extended stay hotels are a great option for families, because you’ll usually get ample space for your whole family. You’ll also have a kitchen, and can save money by preparing some of your own meals. If you’ve got more than two kids, you’ll also find that these hotels usually can be the most affordable. Kids stay free at Extended Stay America, so it’s worth checking to see if there is one in your vacation destination.
You may also find some hotels like Homewood Suites, which may offer complimentary dinner/manager’s receptions and breakfasts. Check the specifics of the hotel you choose to make sure you know what the offered amenities are.
Buy an Attractions Pass
If you are traveling to a popular tourist destination, check to see if you can purchase an attractions pass. They can often give you some great discounts, as long as you plan on visiting all of the attractions that it includes.
One of the ones we recommend is the CityPASS. Offered in major cities, the CityPASS offers admission to some of the most popular tourist attractions in a city for one price. Look at the website to see if a pass is available in the city that you are visiting. If there is, you’ll want to look at the attractions list to ensure you’ll actually go to most of the places.
Camping can be a lot of fun for families, and can be a great way to save money on your family vacation. Looking for inspiration on campfire meals? Check out this post.
If you really can’t afford to travel anywhere, staycation in your home city. You’ll save money on transportation and hotels, and there are almost certainly a variety of attractions that you’ve never experienced. Just be sure to actually venture out every day. The risk of a staycation is that you’ll end up doing chores at home and won’t end up actually exploring.
Stay in the Outskirts
Hotels can be expensive, especially if they are in a desirable tourist location. Consider staying in a hotel in the outskirts, checking reviews of the hotel first to make sure that the location is safe and convenient enough to drive into the city.
When we visited Washington DC, for instance, hotels in the city were very expensive. We ended up staying in National Harbor, MD, which had much more affordable rates.
For our family vacation over Thanksgiving, we booked a package deal through an airline, which was much cheaper than booking the items separately.
Planning to fly during your vacation? Check out our tips for getting flight deals here.