I often hear from families who want to go on a fun family vacation, but are dealing with budget constraints. Vacations can definitely be expensive, especially when you are constrained to traveling during school vacations. However, there are lots of ways to cut costs and take an affordable family vacation. Whether you decide to fly to your destination or prefer to drive, there are plenty of options Here are my tips for affordable family vacations.
Affiliate links within. Purchasing and/or clicking on some of the links in this post helps support Family Travel Magazine®.
7 Tips for Affordable Family Vacations
Stay in a Vacation Home or a Suite Hotel
It can be expensive to eat out for your entire vacation. Book a vacation home or a suite hotel where you’ll have access to a kitchen, and you can save money by cooking some of your own meals. A vacation home or a suite is also a great way to get extra space, so you can spend more time in your suite/house. Some vacation homes even have pools that you can enjoy rather than going out and spending extra money.
If you are driving, you can bring groceries with you. Otherwise, you can stop in your rental car, or ask your cab/car driver to stop at a grocery store. Some suite hotels will even load your refrigerator for you, but that may come at an excessive fee.
At a minimum, try to each breakfast in your room to save money. I usually bring breakfast bars in our suitcase, even if our room doesn’t have a kitchen.
Drive to Your Destination
Airfare can be a big portion of your vacation budget, so drive to your destination and save money. If it’s a long trip, consider sharing the drive with another adult, and/or stop a few times and reasonably-priced roadside hotels during your trip. You’ll save money on airfare, and won’t have to rent a car. This is especially a good idea during school vacations, since airfare during those busy times tends to be very expensive.
Find More Affordable Destinations
There are so many great, reasonable, family vacation destinations, so explore all options before deciding on one. Here are some destinations for affordable family vacations you should consider. I usually make a list of places that I want to visit, and then check prices from that last. We used that same process to find some great deals on our Thanksgiving trip to Nashville and our spring break trip to San Antonio. The key is being flexible with your destination choice.
Book Off Season and/or Travel Midweek
Traveling during peak season can be expensive. For instance, travel to the Caribbean can be very expensive during the winter months (when everyone is looking to escape the cold), but can be reasonable in the summer. If you want to visit a Caribbean island, definitely consider going in the summer or fall.
School vacation weeks can be especially expensive, and traveling on off days, like the Friday before vacation, for instance, can save you money. Research prices for a variety of dates to see what works best. We usually end up leaving the Friday before or the Monday after school ends, and then return on the Thursday or Friday.
Take Advantage of Deals or Travel Packages
Vacation packages can be a great way to save money. I recommend looking at the airline’s travel packages, such as Southwest Vacations or JetBlue Getaways. If your ideal vacation includes flying, that can be a great way to save money on airfare and hotels.
Take advantage of any deals, coupons, or packages that you can find. In addition, I recommend looking into price matching options, as well as comparison tools such as Trivago. For flights, I like using Google Flights to compare prices and set an alert when prices change.
Use Miles and Points
If you want to travel, it may be worth getting a credit card that gives you points. Compare APRs and other details before getting one, however. If you don’t pay off your card in full every month, it may not be worth it.
You should also sign up for every frequent traveler program that you are eligible for. If you are traveling, you might as well accumulate points and miles.
Consider a Staycation
I’ve found that there are so many things in my state that we still haven’t explored. If you want to save money on a hotel and airfare, consider doing small day trips to different areas. Check Groupon or your local library for discounted attraction passes, and explore your local area. Try to limit the amount of housework or chores you do, so that it will still feel like a vacation.
What are your tips for saving money on vacations?
Get Our Free eBook
Subscribe to get our complimentary eBook with tips, tricks, and info for family travelers.