Saving on Family Vacations

Family vacations don’t have good reputations. This is because the costs are too high, finding the right time is almost impossible, and organizing where to go is a nightmare itself. Because of these reasons, a lot of families don’t go to vacations anymore and they simply go to places near their house or in a relative’s house for the weekend – that’s it.

However, family vacations are a good way for the family to bond together and create good memories together. It helps open up the children’s mind and they will also learn to appreciate the diversity in culture at an early age. For those parents that are planning to go to a family vacation, but are not sure what to do, here are some tips for you.

Start Locally

Before you introduce your children to international traveling, a cheaper and better way for them to learn more about the world is through local travel. It may be in the neighboring city or town, but it will still provide your family with a lot of new experiences and new things to learn. This trip will not be very expensive since you’ll be traveling only by car and sleeping over in small hotels for a day or two.

If possible, you can even go to places your children know from school. This will help reinforce that information while stimulating their urge to learn. Once they are familiar about the concept of traveling and about the difference in cultures, they’ll be able to appreciate (and behave better) during international travels.

Off-Season Perks

Visiting a tropical country during winter season seems like normal for everyone. That’s why airlines and hotels take advantage of this and jack up the prices way too high. During peak season you’ll find plane tickets and hotel room rates twice the normal amount. If you do manage to pay for these, you’ll have to put up with countless tourists littering the beach and competing with you in tourist spots. It won’t be much of a vacation as many families have experienced before.

To get around this situation, plan your family trip during off-season. We know it doesn’t make much sense to visit tropical country when it’s still summer in your country as well, but you can adjust it. For example, you can visit it during autumn or before the typhoon season in tropical countries. Plane ticket prices are very low, and hotel rates are a bargain as well. In addition, there won’t be many people going there so it would seem like the place is secluded. Tourist spots or tours will also be at a cheaper price, so you and your kids can enjoy to your heart’s content without you worrying too much about the expenses.

Early Bird Bookings

This method works when you already have a specific date in mind and everyone’s schedule is synchronized. Once you have dates in mind, you can then look at plane fares and hotel room rates. If you book way advance like months before, you’ll be able to spot some good deals. A lot of airlines do this to fill up their flights in advance. In a similar fashion, hotels also offer huge discounts to ensure rooms will be fully booked.

If you’re not too keen about surfing or spending a lot of time browsing through different travel sites, you can just opt for a travel agency instead. It might sound a bit expensive to use their services (though just a bit), but you’ll still be able to get early bird discounts for your vacation trip.

Swap Houses

It might sound something from a movie, but swapping houses is being done in real life. If you have a friend who lives in another state or even country you can swap with their family’s house. Just make sure that your travel dates will coincide of course. You won’t have to spend a lot for a two week vacation in another country, just the plane fare, food, and tours – that’s it. We all know that one of the downsides for traveling with your family is paying for that “family” sized room for 2 weeks. House swapping will give you a sense of security for your accommodations without going overboard for your budget.

Go Camping

Camping is definitely one of the most inexpensive family vacations out there. Instead of staying in a fancy hotel for around $150 a night, you can go camping under that stars for about $20 in entrance fees. You only need gas, provisions and equipment, and then you’re all set to go. Provisions can be bought in the grocery store so it doesn’t need to be expensive. Depending on the length of your stay, you don’t need to bring a lot.

If staying in a tent isn’t comfortable for your family (especially the kids) then you can opt for a cabin. A lot of parks have cabins for rent. It only has basic amenities, but it’s a good way to stay close to nature without sacrificing comfort. In addition, it’s not that expensive.

Camping also provides a lot of opportunities for families to bond together. Activities like cooking over a campfire, gathering firewood, lounging around in camp, or just talking over the campfire. A lot of parents actually prefer these activities over going to a foreign country and relaxing like royalty on a resort. This teaches children a lot of lessons about life and about work. All of that for a very low price you pay.

Further Tips to Save Money

During your vacation trips, expenses for tours and food can rack up before you even know it. Here are some tips for you to save money while you are on your family vacation.

  • If possible, try to rent a place that allows you to cook or prepare foods yourself. This will save a lot for your food expenses. You’ll buy local ingredients, so you’ll still get that exotic, new taste. It’s still a good idea to try the local cuisine, though not just for every meal.
  • Look for accommodations that offer discounts for kids or even let them stay for free. Your budget for your room can go towards a better or bigger room without you having to spend a lot.
  • There are also some hotels that offer complimentary buffet for guests. Use these amenities so that you can save money before you head out for tours or exploring. If your child sees something that looks delicious, a tantrum could ensue. Heading out with a full stomach will prevent this situation (and other similar ones).
  • Don’t forget to bring you and your children’s identification card. Students, senior citizens, and some membership cards will net you good discounts. For example, at theme parks and museums, you can get discounts for children as long as they have their IDs with them.

There are a lot of ways for you to save on family vacations. After all, you call the shots, not the children. Yes, expensive theme parks and exotic countries seem the best places to take your children to. However what you’re after in a vacation, is to spend quality time with each other, not to spend a lot of money for post card moments.