Are you planning a vacation with your family this spring or summer? Are you looking for some ways to save money? Check out these tips that have worked for my family over the years!
Before you even get to your destination, consider planning by doing the following:
If you’re going to a larger city, check Groupon for deals on activities and restaurants you may enjoy while you’re vacationing. Just be sure to check the availability dates and any exclusions before buying. You can save a large percentage off on many different things. Also, only buy what you know you will use. You don’t want a good deal to go to waste in a different city!
Don’t get a hotel. Instead, try Vrbo or Airbnb. Scour the reviews, look at the addresses to know how far you will be from the things you want to do, and don’t hesitate to reach out to the owners to answer any questions you may have. Deals on these sites are often better than staying in a hotel over the course of your vacation. And you can filter by bedrooms, bathrooms, and amenities to get exactly what you want. This is especially helpful when traveling with a larger group. You can split the cost with friends or family who are joining you on your trip. If it’s just your immediate family traveling, you may want to consider looking for a condo or apartment as this may save you some money over a house, and many times, these places will have amenities like a pool that the whole family can enjoy.
Speaking of when you book your place, pay attention to the day of the week. Some places require a weekly rental, but others you can do for a few nights. If you don’t have to stay Saturday to Saturday or Sunday to Sunday for the place you’re staying (and if you can get the time off work), stay mid-week to mid-week. Often, flights are cheaper on Tuesdays or Wednesdays than they are on the weekends. And by being on your trip for a full weekend (instead of having to leave on a weekend day), you’ll have better chances of being able to attend a festival or something special that the city has happening on the weekends.
When booking airfare or car rentals, consider using credit card points or airline points. My husband travels quite a bit, and free days for car rentals and free plane tickets can accumulate quickly. I also accrue credit card points after paying off my balance every month. We then use these to get deeply discounted or free car rentals or plane tickets.
To save money on food, pack a cooler if you’re driving. Consider bringing yogurt, pancake mix, fruit, lunch meat, bread, cheeses, drinks, etc. to get you through breakfast and lunch. Pack pantry staples and easy snacks as well. Be sure to talk to the owners where you will be staying to see what will be provided in the kitchen and as far as paper items as well. Ask if toilet paper and paper towels will be provided or if you will need to bring extra. If you’re flying, make the grocery store one of your first stops and stock up the fridge!
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, consider the following:
Remember all that food you packed or brought? Eat it! Try to eat as many breakfasts and lunches where you are staying. Save money by eating out just at dinner or picking one meal to go somewhere special. Then, eat at places that you can’t find at home or that are known just to that area.
Pack reusable, insulated water bottles that will stay cold for a long time. Have one for every member of the family so that you will be less tempted to buy drinks when you are out sight-seeing. On the same note, pack snacks for in-between meals. Think easy snacks that you can throw in your purse or beach bag and that do not need to be refrigerated, such as granola bars, beef jerky, goldfish, protein bars, and peanut butter crackers.
While you’re out and about, look for brochures or magazines featuring possible freebies in the town. Think free festivals, parades, weekly concerts or music on the streets, movies in the park, etc. Consider which ones your family would enjoy and add them to your itinerary. Local libraries are another great place to look for free events, and many of them are kid-friendly, so check them out too!
I love a good shopping day while on vacation, but you only need so many souvenirs. Do you really need another magnet or T-shirt? Stick to a budget when shopping on vacation. Many tourist vacation destinations have souvenirs and gift shops everywhere. It’s easy to buy everyone new T-shirts or hoodies, but be mindful of how much money you’re spending. If you do find something you love, go back on the last day of your trip to get it if you find you can’t live without it!
When you decide what to do on a daily basis, try to stay in one place longer. I am guilty of wanting to be on-the-go all day, every day while on vacation and always doing something different, but it saves money to spend time in one location longer. For example, don’t plan to go to the beach in the morning, come home for lunch, go to a movie in the afternoon, go out to dinner and shopping at night. Instead, have a whole beach day. Pack a picnic lunch and plan to spend the day. Then grab some take-out for dinner and enjoy a sunset on the beach.