With a tough economy and tight budgets, family vacations are easy to put on the back burner or forget about all together. But the fun, the memories and the connecting that come from family vacations are worth fighting for. Here are a few ways to make a family vacation affordable.
1. Buy food from a grocery store and make your own meals instead of eating out all the time. If you want to eat out, go out for lunch instead of dinner; many restaurants (fast food restaurants not included) have cheaper lunch options than dinner options.
2. Find frugal forms of accommodation, such as…
- Staying with friends and relatives
- Splitting the cost for a cabin or other housing with one or more other families
- Finding ways to pay less than average for a hotel room (coupons, sales, motels instead of hotels, etc.)
- Go camping! A tent is by far one of the cheapest forms of accommodation and opens the doors to a ton of adventures and memories!
3.Find out in advance whether you qualify for discounts or free entry into different attractions (museums, amusement parks, etc.). Examples:
- If you blog, you might be able to get free passes for your family to different attractions in return for writing a promotional blog post.
- Some museums and other attractions give free entries on certain days.
- Depending on your profession, you might qualify for different discounts (educators, for example, can often get free or discounted passes into museums).
4. Find frugal means of transportation. Look into different options before making a final decision.
- Sometimes last minute airplane ticket sales work out to be cheaper than the cost of a car trip once you factor in associated costs (gas, an overnight stay in a hotel if the trip is long, etc.). If you end up taking a plane, here are a few tips for flying with young children.
- Are you a large family? Then traveling by car could end up being more economical. If so, take a look at these family activities you can do together in the car.
- If you’re traveling in the eastern or central regions of the United States, the Mega Bus might be a very affordable form of transportation for you.
5. Fill your vacation with free activities – hiking, swimming, bonfires, fishing, free botanical gardens and parks, concerts, etc. If you look into various destinations in advance, you might be surprised at how many free activities you can find in different cities.
6. Encourage your kids to save money throughout the year (allowances, or money earned for odd jobs) to use on vacation. You can decide in advance what you will pay for. If your children want something else, they can use the money they’ve saved.
7. While “going somewhere” makes vacation exciting and different, and gives everyone a break from their normal routine, it isn’t absolutely necessary. If you can’t afford going somewhere, or just don’t have anywhere in mind, consider having a family “Staycation” instead. Here are some frugal Staycation Ideas to get you started!