Summer is here, which means our summer tradition is here again: family vacations! The memories made on family vacations are priceless, but the reality is they can also be costly. You don't have to break the bank though; you can keep costs down by doing some upfront planning. Consider these tips for a family vacation that won’t leave you feeling burned.
Save money right from the start by choosing a less-expensive destination. It’s as simple as looking for vacation spots within driving distance of home. Not only do you save on travel expenses like airfare, but you’ve eliminated the need to rent a car once you’ve arrived at your vacation destination.
If you do want to go farther than a car ride will take you, consider vacationing during off-peak seasons. A beach resort or a mountain resort will be less expensive and less crowded during their respective off seasons. You may have to adjust your summer vacation to another time during the year, but look at it as an “off-season adventure”. Be sure to look into vacation packages that bundle airfare, accommodations, meals, entertainment and maybe even a rental car.
Where You Stay Can Help You Save
Camping, the traditionally budget-friendly vacation for those that love the great outdoors, can offer experiences and memories like no other. Camping combines less-expensive travel (car or RV) with less-expensive accommodations. Save even more money by cooking meals at the campsite. Who doesn’t love hot dogs and hamburgers, right? You know, another benefit to staying at a campground is the low cost entertainment – campgrounds are usually situated in beautiful wilderness areas that offer swimming, hiking, canoeing, rafting and many other outdoor activities that are more friendly on the family’s finances.
Not the camping type? Renting a vacation home or condo is another option for group vacations. Rather than paying for multiple hotel rooms, the whole gang can stay together under one roof and share expenses while sharing space.
Getting Around Town
If you do end up leaving the car at home, you can still save money when traveling by using local transit services like busses, subways, commuter trains and shuttles. Unlike renting a car or taking taxis every time you want to go somewhere, local transit is usually very inexpensive, and traveling with the locals can be a memorable adventure in itself. Let’s not forget about fees for overnight parking and valet expenses. When you rely on local transit as your means of transportation, there’s no extra cost for parking.
What and Where to Eat
There are ways to save on dining, even if your vacation destination does not come with cooking facilities. If you’re without the convenience of a kitchen, that means you decided to go the hotel or resort route rather than take a camping trip or renting a vacation home. Check whether your hotel includes breakfast to save on the most important meal of the day. And since most hotel rooms contain a small refrigerator; pick up picnic type items to keep on hand for quick snacks or even an economical lunch. Then you can enjoy a nice dinner at a local restaurant. Depending on where you travel, you can usually find entertainment books or magazines that contain valuable coupons for local dining establishments.
What About Fun?
These same entertainment books usually have two-for-one or discount passes for all the hottest attractions. With a little planning, you can find out which attractions offer a free or reduced-price day or a family discount, and then make your itinerary for financially smart fun. Often times, the bigger discounts are offered on advanced bookings, so before leaving for vacation search online and purchase tickets and passes before departing.
Wherever you and your loved ones travel this summer, or this year, remember to play it financially smart. We want you to have a good time and we want you to feel good about the money you spend on making wonderful memories.
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