Do you ever wonder how to save money on family vacations? Saving money is definitely important, but so are trips.
Like many of you, we believe in giving our kids experiences over “stuff.” Science shows that we should spend our money on vacations instead of toys. There are infinitely more memories to be made from a family vacation than from the latest plastic gadget. That being said, vacations can be expensive — especially for large families.
How to Save Money on Family Vacations
These money-saving vacation tips have helped our family to be able to afford to go on some awesome family vacations over the years. Some of the ideas might work for your family, and some may not, but any money saved is better than money spent!
Take Your Family Vacation During “Off Peak” Times
Summer is usually the most popular time of year for vacation destinations. The weather is warmer, there are more activities planned, and there are inevitably more people vying for the same hotel rooms. Since we’re a large family, and sometimes need multiple rooms, saving on hotel fees is paramount!
Going on vacation in the fall or spring, before or after the high-season, results in cheaper hotel rooms, and better deals. It can definitely be tricky with school and work schedules, but if you can vacation at a non-peak time, you can save quite a bit of money.
When it Comes to Family Vacations, Plan Ahead
I’m a planner–with four kids I need to be! Planning and researching our vacations is my thing. By starting months in advance of when we’d like to go, I can often find discounted tickets for amusement parks, museums, and other areas of interest.
While I try not to micro-manage the vacation by planning it down to the minute, we do have a loose schedule of when we’ll be going where, and which day is our “hotel pool” day. I’ve found that planning our days also helps with planning meals, too – another vacation expense that can quickly add up!
Save Money on Vacation By Dining In
Speaking of meals, whenever possible, we opt for hotel rooms with a mini-fridge and microwave. It makes it easy to bring breakfast foods, yogurt, snacks, and the always needed bottled water. If you do go out and have leftovers, the mini-fridge is perfect for storing them for the next meal. If the hotel has a free breakfast, even better! You’ll find that eating in can save you a ton of money – especially if you have a large family!
Take Advantage of All Available Vacation Discounts
Did you know that AAA members can get a discount on hotel rooms and some amusement parks? Many other organizations and groups offer discounted tickets, hotel prices, and more. Check with the hotel’s website (or call the hotel directly) to see what specials they offer. When it comes to discounts and family vacations, take advantage of as many as possible. It will free up funds to do more while you’re away!
Vacation with Family and Friends
The more the merrier! While the companionship of more adults for you to enjoy the company of, and more kids for your children to explore and play with during vacation is a definite plus, you can’t deny the financial bonus. My friend vacations in Disney with her entire family every October, and I think it’s so sweet! They are making amazing family memories, the cousins all get to play together, and the grown-ups take turns staying with the kids in the evening so that each couple gets to explore Disney night life and go on date nights. They all chip in towards a timeshare and get to enjoy an amazing trip for less!
Weigh the Cost of Driving vs. Flying
It used to be that flying was the quickest, cheapest way to get around the country. These days, airfares have skyrocketed, and the hassle of flying may not be worth it. If you live close enough to drive to your vacation destination, and you don’t mind doing so, add up the cost of gas, any needed hotel rooms for overnight stops, and snacks along the way. You may find that driving is significantly less expensive than flying a family of five or six!
If driving isn’t your thing, consider taking the train instead. However, if flying is the preferred or only option, make sure you do plenty of price comparisons (in private browsing mode) and use any frequent flyer miles that you’ve saved up to help cut down on the costs.
Find a Local Vacation Spot That Works For Your Budget
Vacations don’t have to be really expensive and over the top! We found a gem of a family camping spot about an hour from our house. It’s far enough for the kids to enjoy the fun of a road trip, and feel like we are getting away, but close enough to easily run home if something is forgotten. It’s inexpensive, and fun! We also love exploring little towns that are close to home, and staying in a hotel for a night or two. Day trips are also fun, and tend to be easier if you have small children.
Enjoy a Staycation
If you can’t afford huge family vacations, don’t worry! Treat your family to a relaxing staycation! After a vacation, don’t you wish you could have a day or two to just lay low and recoup? Traveling with kids is a lot of work, and although it’s fun, it takes a lot of energy to plan and organize. The best thing about a staycation, is that you get to enjoy quality time as a family without all of the logistical nightmares that traveling can sometimes bring about. Staycations are also a fun way to explore your community and see it through the eyes of a tourist!
Wherever your next family vacation or staycation takes you, remember, the destination isn’t what’s important… It’s the memories made as a family that matter most!
More Family Fun
Warmer weather means all sorts of opportunities for family fun! Check out these ideas:
- 24 Summer Games for Family Fun
- How to Keep Your Kids Busy All Summer Long
- Kids Bored in the Summer? Here Are 15 Things to Do
- 5 Sweet Campfire and Other Summer Dessert Ideas
How do you save money on family vacations? Comment below!