Family vacations aren’t inexpensive, but there are things you can do to save money on your budget. Looking to save money on your next family vacation? Here are some expert tips!
Family Travel Budget Tips: Saving Money On Your Vacation
Saving Money on Flights
Consider a package deal, like those from Jetblue Getaways, which can help you save money on hotels and airfare.
“Use SkyScanner.com to set up alerts for your flights, then, when prices drop dramatically, you can pounce on the tickets. Also, several sites allow you to set up a grid or calendar to see when the cheapest travel days for your destination are. Don’t neglect to try other airports: we found that we could travel from Pittsburgh to Barcelona this past summer for hundreds of dollars per ticket less than Columbus. We did the same with Spring Break to Palm Springs. It pays to be flexible in both your travel days and your airports”. – Jeff Wilson, host of Real Rail Adventures on public TV, www.NewEyesTravel.com.
“When you book your trip matters. Midweek, usually Tuesday through Thursday, is generally when airfares are at their lowest. To be more specific, Tuesdays at 3 p.m. EST is usually when you’ll see the best rates.” – Sophia Stoller, CheapCaribbean.com
“Early birds get the best fares. On average, 54 days before takeoff is when domestic airline prices are at their lowest for most locations. For Mexico, the prime time to book is 89 days before your flight, and for the Caribbean, it’s 101 days before your flight.” -Sophia Stoller CheapCaribbean.com
“When you book a rental car, many companies allow you to cancel the reservation up to 24 hours before. Secure the best rate you can on a car for your vacation, and then try a lowball bid on Priceline 36 – 48 hours before your travel date. Should your bid get accepted, you can then cancel your original car reservation”.- Tara Cannon – Pint Size Pilot
“In the States, we travel with a small, lightweight Aliner camper for 40-75 nights each summer. It has everything we need in a very small footprint (including shower/potty, kitchen, heater, water heater, fridge, etc.). We rarely pay to camp, and when we do, we usually only pay $10-$20. We use www.FreeCampgrounds.com to find free places, but many times we find free “dispersed” camping in National Forests – these usually require that you be at least 1/4 mile from a main road off of a logging or forest access road, and have been some of the most beautiful, quiet camps we’ve had. In Europe, we car-camp, taking a tent, sleeping bags and pads, and a limited backpacking kitchen. We’ve done this through the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria, and this past summer we traveled through Spain, Portugal, and the French Pyrenees for the month of June this way. Renting a car through AutoEurope.com is cheaper than 4 train tickets, and we have greater access to the countryside where trains can’t take you. We camp with middle-class Europeans and have a more authentic experience than the typical traveler. European campgrounds are clean, always have showers, and very often have pools, small grocery stores, a restaurant, and a pub. One of our best meals this summer was at a campground restaurant outside of Granada, Spain. Even the tapas – the small bites which come automatically with each drink you order- were first rate. But camping also allows us to shop in grocery stores and markets for most of our meals, cutting down on the cost of travel and giving us another experience that most travelers don’t get. Try finding the food you want in a Croatian grocery store – you learn the language pretty quickly, and people are always happy to help you. So, camping is not only cheaper, but it gives you a better experience for your dollar, too”. – Jeff Wilson, host of Real Rail Adventures on public TV, www.NewEyesTravel.com.
“While many travelers already realize the inherent value of a cruise vacation (all meals, entertainment, accommodations and transportation included in the base price), only some are savvy enough take advantage of special rates afforded to kids. Cruise rates are typically shown as per person/double occupancy, but many lines often offer significantly reduced – or free – fares for the 3rd and 4th passengers in the same cabin. And while those 3rd/4th berths are typically small (sofabeds or Pullman-style bunks), they fit kids perfectly. The best 3rd/4thrates come and go and may only be offered on some sailings, so it’s wise to have a travel agent help search those out. Meanwhile, MSC Cruises, an Italian company with a limited presence in the Caribbean, offers a kids sail freepromotion that is often matched by its primary competitor, Costa Cruises”. – David Yeskel, From Sin City to Floating City
“Many restaurants offer “kids eat free deals” on certain days of the week (usually slower business days like Mondays or Tuesdays). Check websites and
social media pages ahead of time to plan your itinerary.” – Cynthia Drake, Author of Budget Travel for the Genius
“If you can’t book a room with a small kitchen take along a small assortment (you can buy more at your destination) of instant oatmeal, instant mac and cheese and other family favorites that you can heat up with the in-room coffee pot by running a water cycle through the pot for sanity saving dinner”. – Natural Maker Mom (Jennifer) at Satsuma Designs – www.satsumadesigns.com
“Join every chain restaurant’s birthday club, for adults and children. Save those “free meal” coupons that come each year, and use them when you travel. You can register online, and the coupons come either via email or via the regular mail”. – Kate at FromFresnoToTimbuktu.com
“Make lunch your big meal out each day and have casual dinners in — like pizza, sub sandwiches, etc. Lunch menu are often way more reasonable for
families”. – Donna Bozzo – The Lady With The Alligator Purse
“Pack your own amusement park, museum and attraction snacks. When you check into your hotel/motel ask the front desk for the closest grocery or minimart to use for essentials. And stash reusable water bottles in your day pack to refill as necessary. Remember to hydrate”! – Natural Maker Mom (Jennifer) at Satsuma Designs – www.satsumadesigns.com
“In many European countries, you can save quite a bit on train travel by booking family tickets. For example, in Germany, the national railroad (Die Bahn) offers significant family discounts on its high speed and local train services. This includes children under 6 always travel for free, and children 6-14 are free with an accompanying parent or grandparent, but must be stated on the ticket (just tell them when buying the ticket). More info here: http://www.bahn.de/i/view/USA/en/services/family/children-index.shtml. With this sort of savings, and by booking adult tickets well in advance, you can travel as a family on high speed trains with little hassle and at lower costs than renting a car, and paying for gas and parking”. – Tom Meyers at EuroCheapo.com
“Use peak times when hotel prices are highest to visit friends and family you can stay with and eliminate accommodation costs. Save destinations where you need hotels for off-peak trips”. – Kaamna at Momaboard.com.
“Travel is something that our family prioritizes so we signed up for a credit card that offers airline points. We use that card for probably 95% of our credit purchases so we can really rack up miles. After 3 years of collecting miles we were able to get 3 free tickets to Germany for our family — this was during that period when you are spending a lot on diapers and baby products. Another 3 years of saving got us 2 out of three tickets free to Paris. So this has become our strategy. for 3 years we drive or fly domestically inexpensively. And then in the 3rd year we use miles to get to Europe. Flying and hotels are the biggest expenses for that kind of vacation. So being able to get the flights for free makes it so much more affordable. (we probably save $3,000-$5,000 on each of those trips)”. – Eileen Gunn from FamiliesGo!
“In France we did a homeswap so that alleviated the hotel cost. So we got to spend 2 weeks in Europe and probably spent about $1500”. – Eileen Gunn from FamiliesGo!
“Home rentals, saving up points and home swaps do require extra planning and work, but they bring vacations like this into the realm of doable when they otherwise wouldn’t be for families. The Paris trip and German trips were both fantastic experiences and totally worth it”.- Eileen Gunn from FamiliesGo!
“Take Monday off instead of Friday. Sunday is typically the cheapest night at a hotel”. – Neil Emerson, Senior Vice President of Product Development for Tourico Holidays
“We never get souvenirs — but if you are a souvenir family, raid the dollar store before you go. Say if you are visiting Sea World, grab a couple stuffed sharks or sea critters before you go and leave on your child’s pillow for a inexpensive surprise. It’s save you struggle at the over-priced souvenir shop”. – Donna Bozzo – The Lady With The Alligator Purse
“Think about reciprocal memberships to museums and zoos. Hundreds of science, art and children’s museums, as well as zoos, participate in
reciprocal membership programs, which means your family’s membership to the museum back home pays your way (or gives you a discount) at the museums and zoos in the places where you’re traveling. Remembering to bring your card with you” – Cynthia Drake, Author of Budget Travel for the Genius
“Check out family friendly free options for entertainment, such as public parks, playgrounds and libraries. Because your kids haven’t visited these
places before, they are great sources for new adventures. For young kids, even mundane activities, like taking a bus, train or trolley, can be exciting. Also, check with the local calendar of events for the city where you’re traveling — you might luck out and find that your trip coincides with a local fair, festival or parade”. – Cynthia Drake, Author of Budget Travel for the Genius
“Check out Groupons in the city you’ll be visiting. You can score big savings for dinners out and activities”. Donna Bozzo The Lady With The Alligator Purse
“Convention and visitors bureau – Be sure to check out your destination’s convention and visitors bureau website or give them a ring as you are planning your trip. The resource exists to help promote their local tourism so the team would be happy to assist with your planning. They often provide free walking tours of the downtown or historic districts, and can also recommend any events going on during your trip. A quick search through their website should bring up the calendar, and depending on the size of the city and the time of year, you should be able to navigate through different festivals, musical acts, street fairs and more that are often free to the public”. Ian Ford, CEO and founder of Undercover Tourist
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