How to Save Money on Your Family Vacation

Grand Canyon Air Tours with Westwind Air Service

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2021 is set to be a big year for travel. Once restrictions start to lift and vaccines become more prevalent and normal, families will be ready to hit the road. After a year of not following our dreams, however, we will still look to how we can save money on vacation.

The following are tips and tricks I’ve gained throughout the years on how to save money on our family vacation.

Flights

Photo by Westwind Air Service on Unsplash

There are hundreds of advice sites out there that will tell you to book your flights at midnight on a Tuesday. I don’t know that works anymore.

My go-to tip is to set a price alert.

Many of the conglomeration sites use price alerts so you can track when prices go down.

For instance, I use Kayak to search for flights. It checks multiple airlines. I can also look at days that are green for the best pricing. I read the advice that says to buy now, prices are unlikely to decrease within 7 days. And I can check a box to send me alerts when things change.

I also use Kayak for Explore. If you want to travel, but not sure where Explore will give you ideas of places to fly from your home city and the average cost.

Google flights are another good option for price alerts and cheap flights from your home city.

Attractions

How to save money on family vacation

Attractions probably take up the biggest part of your travel budget and can sometimes be tricky to save money. I found a lot of options and listed them out in this post here, How to Easily Save Money on Attractions. In addition to the points in the linked post, one thing you could consider is getting a different credit card to both help you save for the holiday, and perhaps even offer you some benefits while you’re on your travels. The credit card from SoFi, for example, doesn’t charge a monthly fee and also doesn’t charge a transaction fee for using your card abroad, meaning your money will stretch that little bit further towards what it is you’re wanting to do. Try this out!

Don’t forget to also look at Free Museum days, and free National Park Days too.

Hotels

How to save money on vacation a hotel room with vibrant painting

In short, to save money on vacation hotels, stay outside the city for lower room rates, or stay inside the city for lower transportation costs.

Other tips include booking direct, hotel reward programs, using the hotel credit card.

You can check the details of all the ways to save money on hotels here.

Home Rentals

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Photo by Mahrous Houses on Unsplash

These days home rentals are not necessarily cheaper than a hotel. many areas have cracked down on hosts to pay taxes, combine that with the booking and cleaning fees and that $59 a night room is no longer a better deal. However, it depends on what you want out of it.

You can see the difference between VRBO and Airbnb by reading more here.

You’ll have more options for hotels and other places to stay on your family vacation than you could be aware of. It’s worth spending a bit of time researching these and comparing them. The JatinaGroup can be a great place to help find hotels and other rentals you could want to stay in.

It’s more than worth the time you put into looking around.

Food

Savannah Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room

One of the easiest ways to go over your budget is on food. It can be hard to predict just how much it’s going to cost you to eat when you’re traveling. Budget too little and do you end the trip not eating the food you want?

If you want to save money on vacation, and you decide where to spend and where to splurge, food could be one of those splurges.

However, there are some easy ways to save money on food if you want to maximize your budget.

Some of my best tips include:

  • Bringing your own food, and cooking meals as often as possible.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle. This one is my favorite for cleaning and purifying the water too.
  • If you need snacks in the hotel, step away from the hotel lobby and pop into a drug store or convenience store. There’s likely one within walking distance of your hotel.
  • Eat a big lunch out and have snacks for dinner. Lunch menus are usually cheaper.

For my extensive list on saving money on food, visit here.

Transportation

Woman in gray sweater and blue denim jeans sitting on car seat

If you are flying in and won’t have use of a car, you can save money by using public transportation.

Riding the bus, subway, shuttle, or train, is a small fraction of the cost of even ride-sharing. For example, the 7-day unlimited ride Metro Card in New York will cost $33, versus a one-way fare averaging $17.

Walking should always be an option when you’re in the bigger cities too. It’s free, and you’ll see sights you may miss when you’re taking a car or train.

If you have older kids, look into doing a bike share or bike rental. Many cities now offer bikes and scooters to Bike Share or Bike Rentals. In fact, companies such as Lime now show up in Google Maps.

Events

women girl man boy family in Orlando City Soccer Stadium sporting events travel

Finding events and things to do may be one of the easiest ways to save money on vacation.

Community calendars often list free events such as free concerts in the park, free outdoor movies, art festivals, and more. Others may be a nominal fee.

Check your desired locations visitors bureau events page to learn more.

Pack Light

Woman in white top and denim jeans sitting on red luggage bag
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels

Not just for airplanes, the more you pack in your car, the worse your fuel mileage.

When you pack light, you’ll save on airline fees for luggage. Plus, you’ll save your back lugging clothing around.

Pack light doesn’t mean wearing stinky clothes over and over. You can also pack items such as laundry sheets to freshen up clothes in the hotel sink as needed. The beauty of laundry sheets is that they are not liquid and don’t count towards the airline rules of liquid restrictions.

All-Inclusive Resorts

An all inclusive vacation package is a one and done solution.

Ideally, you pay one price and your room, food, and activities are covered. Sometimes you can even find these deals that include your flights.

All-inclusives aren’t limited to the Caribbean or Mexico either. You can find all-inclusives at dude ranches, family vacation lodges, the Florida Keys, to name a few.

You can even make your Walt Disney World or Universal Studios vacations all-inclusive of the hotel, attraction tickets, and dining plans. Again, you pay once and never have to think about it.

Bundle and Save

people standing near building
Photo by Megan Markham on Unsplash

Another option to save money on vacation is to choose the Bundle & Save on sites such as Priceline.

Bundle and save programs allow you to save money when booking any combination of hotel, flight, or car rental. You don’t necessarily need to do all three, but it’s worth looking at each separately and bundled.

Save Money on Vacation

Get Everything You need for a Family Beach Vacation kids playing in ocean

How do you choose to save money on vacation? Do you have other suggestions? Leave a tip in the comments below.

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