When it comes to having a healthy budget and saving money, vacations are a factor that most people struggle with. On the one hand, you want to take a vacation and you and your family probably need and deserve it. On the other hand, vacations are expensive and sometime threaten to break your budget, so it’s easy to feel guilty when planning one.
Hopefully, by using some advice and being creative, you can find a way to have your vacation and keep your budget on track too. We’ll discuss a few pointers here that we’ve thought of, but first, let’s take a look at an excerpt from this article on Money Management Works about a few ways to save on a family vacation:
- Go on vacation in the off-season. Usually off-season prices are significantly less. This will usually also help with crowd control. There will probably be less people, less traffic, less lines…etc.
- Where practical, prepare meals at home prior to leaving on vacation. If you are on a road trip take a cooler and plan on eating several self-prepared meals.
- Look seriously at driving to your vacation spot. Plane tickets can be very expensive at times, especially when purchasing for the whole family.
- For good family money management, consider going on a “stay-cation”, where you stick around closer to home for your vacation. I’ve noticed that many families (my own included) feel they need to travel long distances to have great vacations. Many times there is a great place practically in our own backyard.
- Going camping is a great vacation with kids. If you can handle “roughing” it, consider camping as a less expensive vacation. My kids absolutely love to camp. Camping may be kind of hard on parents with small children, but our kids can remember all the details of every camping trip we have ever been on….
You can read the rest here: Family Vacations on a Budget.
These are some great tips, and many of the same tips I thought of myself. I especially like the camping idea. And I’d like to point out that if you drive to your vacation, you also save money by not having to rent a car or take shuttles and taxis everywhere. When you have kids, this is an especially large savings.
Choose Lower Cost Vacations
This sounds dumb when I write it, but it really does mean a lot. For example, a trip to a Europe is a high cost vacation. A trip to a local campground is a very inexpensive one. If you are looking to save money, choose vacations that are less exotic and that require less expenditures overall. For example, instead of visiting France, consider Quebec. They are both of French influence but Canada is much less expensive and you can avoid the overseas flights.
Vacations come in all shapes and sizes, but if you choose a vacation type that is less expensive in general, you are already saving a bunch of money. Sometimes you can save money by choosing a lower cost location, like Florida instead of California, or Greece instead of Germany, or even Six Flags instead of Disneyland.
Look for Good Deals
Looking for a good deal can save you a lot. For example, we rented a house in Florida last year and because we emailed around to several landlords, we found someone willing to give us a 45% discount just because he was getting nervous that the week would go unrented. In addition to that good deal, most resorts, hotels and vacation rentals typically have package deals that can also save a lot of money.
And as the article referenced above said, you can always try the offseason, or just a week on either side of the high rate season. A few years back, my wife and I were in Costa Rica. The first night our hotel was over $200 and the next day the rate dropped in half. Although we didn’t know it when we arrived, it was because the season officially changed on that day. Even though the rate changes, the weather doesn’t change much in the first week or two of each offseason.
Another way of finding good deals is to avoid bad deals. For example, try not to book vacations during Spring Break, especially at DisneyLand. And don’t try to visit Arizona during Spring baseball season. Each area has weeks when prices are ridiculous. If you do nothing else, make sure you avoid these times.
Yet another way to find good deals is to explore your options. Let’s say you and two other families were traveling and you decided to book three condos or hotels for the week. Let’s say each night was $200. That would mean that you spent in total $4,200 on lodging. I’m guessing that if you looked around, you could find a vacation home that would not only fit all of you comfortably, but that would have its own private pool and hot tub, and the price would likely be $1,000 to $1,500 lower.
Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate
The biggest and best way to save on not only vacations, but on everything is to negotiate! If you’re not good at it, don’t worry, in most cases all you have to do is ask. On a recent vacation, we spent six nights at six different hotels while traveling. At each hotel at checkin, I asked if they could give me a better rate. EVERY time, they checked their computer and made me a better offer. It wasn’t always that much better, but I’m guessing I saved at least $50 just by asking.
Negotiating can be used for almost anything. Hotels, vacation house rentals (especially landlord owned houses), restaurants, check out times, included amentities. If you are good at it, you can negotiate and save money on almost anything.
These are the ideas we were able to come up with today. After you read this and have more ideas, please share them below.