When it’s more than just two of you, vacationing can seem like a chore. Between planning, packing, saving and just getting everyone out the door on time, it can sound like a better idea just to stay home or go to the zoo for the day. You may also start to look at your budget and the costs for some things and just give up, thinking that there is no way you can go on a fun vacation and do anything besides sit in your hotel room eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and playing cards. So, instead you plan a trip to the beach or a weekend somewhere nearby and see the sites there and then go back home.
This post includes affiliate links and is written by Shereen Travels Cheap for this blog post.
Family Vacations on a Budget
Being a tourist in your own neighborhood is great, but it can get old. Why not spend the same money – or a little more – and go somewhere fabulous with your family? It can be done! Here are five tricks to employ when planning and taking your trip that can save you a bundle:
Rent a house, condo or apartment.
Vacation rentals are fantastic money savers. They may not look it when you are pricing them out, but when you think about it, you have more space than you would in a hotel room (unless you stay in a suite, which will cost more), you have a kitchen where you can prepare meals, make snacks or store and reheat leftovers and often you even have laundry facilities that will save you quarters and will enable you to travel with fewer clothes. Another plus is that you get a discount if you stay a week or more at most vacation rentals. Can you say that for any hotels you’ve ever stayed at? VRBO and FlipKey are great resources for rentals.
You’re already used to doing laundry at home, so you won’t feel put out by doing a little on vacation. Of course you’re there to relax, but it’s a lot easier to relax knowing that you won’t be paying off your vacation for the next five years, too, so pack less and skip paying those hefty baggage fees. This can save you up to $35 per checked bag each way! Imagine what that can buy you. So, how can you get everything you need in just one bag per family member?
Mix and match.
Plan your wardrobes so that all the bottoms match all the tops, making a few outfits into almost two weeks’ worth.
Bring only two pair of shoes.
If everything you packed matches, you can get by with a pair of really good walking shoes and a pair of dressy shoes that are still comfortable to wear sightseeing if you are dressing up for afternoon tea or something similar.
Kids don’t need to follow this rule so much as moms and dads. Make any outfit pop with a change of jewelry, a belt or even a fun bag. Men can change up their look with a different tie. This is great if you’ll be attending any events where you need to dress up more than once, or want to go out dancing and find you only have a plain dress or black tank top.
Don’t order off the kid’s menu.
First of all, kids need variety…and vegetables. The five to six items on every menu for kids doesn’t cut it and half the time they never finish the whole thing anyway. Either split a main entrée between two children or, if they refuse to eat the same thing, then split one between yourself and them. They can eat as little or as much as they are hungry for, they eat something new and they might even eat a vegetable or two. You can always order a side salad or appetizer if you find they eat more than their share. You’ll feel a lot better about that than them eating chicken nuggets for the fourth meal in a row.
Traveling with kids, you probably hear a lot of these two things: “I’m bored” and “I’m hungry”. As adults, we have the same feelings, but we just don’t always voice them. Bring snacks (and drinks) along with you during the day and save money instead of having to pop into convenience stores, eating out more often or purchasing outrageously priced goodies from the theme park kiosks. A handy bag of carrot sticks or trail mix will curb their cravings and keep them going until lunch or dinner and your wallet won’t be empty by the end of the first day of your trip.
Look to third world countries as destinations.
You may never have considered a trip to Belize, Ecuador, Peru or similar countries as a vacation spot, but Central and South America are great places to take your family where they will learn a new culture, try new food, see a different country and you will save tons of money. While the airfare may be a little steep – though probably no more than if you chose to travel cross-country –lodgings, activities and dining are a tremendous bargain. They are usually highly dependent on tourism to keep their economy going, so you will find deals upon deals, as well as some pretty cool opportunities to do things you never could at home, like hike in a rainforest or haggle for handmade goods at a market.
There are so many ways to save when traveling, if you just think outside your normal vacation routine. Do you need to rent a car or can you take the bus? Choose the hotel with the free breakfast over the one that costs the same and offers no perks at all. The more things you incorporate into your planning, the easier it is to do it more often and learn how to travel for less. Taking a trip is less overwhelming when you know that you can go farther and do more for the same as you were spending before.
Find these tips and many more in my budget travel book Shereen Travels Cheap.
About the author:
Shereen and her husband live in Portland, Oregon with her toy fox terrier “child”. They love to travel, but don’t have unlimited funds to go anywhere they want at any given time. Shereen pursues her travel hobby by trying to figure out how to get everything travel related while spending less. Go visit her blog where she writes regularly about her ideas for saving money on travel.