Taking family vacations is one of my favorite things to do. This year, social distancing efforts have made it difficult to travel but things are slowly opened up. While any bigger trips I had planned have been either postponed or canceled, I still may plan to do something small where we can keep our distance from others since my family and I are getting a little stir crazy. What are some of your travel-saving hacks for family vacations?
In general, traveling with your family can be expensive. The average family of 4 spends nearly $5,000 on an annual vacation. That’s a lot of money to fork over but you shouldn’t count on vacationing with loved ones if you’re on a budget.
Here are my top 7 easy travel-saving hacks for family vacations.
1. Have Flexible Travel Dates
One of the easiest things you can do to save money on your next family vacation is to have flexible travel dates. I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but if you get vacation time at work, try to plan ahead when booking your trip and compare rates.
Some days of the week may be cheaper to book your lodging and other accommodations. Even if you’re just taking a shorter trip, you may be able to save by choosing a weekday to travel instead of a weekend.
If you’re using a discount travel site, making that you have flexible travel dates in your search may result in you being eligible to take advantage of more discounts and deals.
2. Make It a Roadtrip
Flying is expensive and most people aren’t doing much flying now anyway. If your car is in good shape, consider filling up the tank, packing up the family and having a fun road trip.
It always helps when you have another driver to help you drive too so you can rest. I’ve done 13-hour road trips before all in one day with just one other driver so it’s definitely doable.
Give your kids lots of games and activities to do while you’re on the road to keep them busy and realize they may sleep a lot too.
3. Bring Your Own Food
Buying food is probably one of the most under-estimated expenses when it comes to budgeting for a family vacation. One of my best easy travel-saving hacks for family vacations is to pack as many snacks and meals as you can for the road. If you’ree flying, you can bring packaged food and even sandwiches through security and onto the plane.
Trust me, I tried it. Last year I flew to Vegas and packed a sandwich for the plane. My husband and sister didn’t think I’d be able to bring food onboard but it was no problem. I wish I would have realized this earlier and I could have saved tons on crappy airport food.
If you’re driving, try to pack your own meals and snacks to put in a small cooler. Avoid stopping for fast food and save your food budget for when you’re actually on vacation so you can enjoy some sit down meals with your family.
One thing I also like to do is choose one meal to cook while I’m on vacation. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but I don’t mind cooking and it saves money. I usually buy some breakfast foods or something easy and quick to prepare. This allows us to be more flexible with lunch and dinner.
4. Try Local Experiences
This is one of my favorite easy travel-saving hacks for family vacations because I don’t mind doing a little research. If you want to steer clear of crowds and save a little money, try going off the beaten path and looking up some activities that locals enjoy.
5. Ask About Packages and Deals
This is another one of the easiest travel-saving hacks for families. Sometimes you won’t know if there’s a good deal if you don’t ask. Sometimes when you’re booking a trip online, there may be a specific page for offers and deals.
Family deals can often help you get the most bang for your buck if they include discounts for multiple kids and coupons on activities and meals.
6. Consider a Family-Friendly Resort
Often times, a family-friendly resort is a good idea if you’re looking to save. Holiday Club Vacations often has resorts and hotels that allow kids to stay and eat at the on-site restaurant for free.
I don’t like how some hotels and Airbnbs add on a ridiculous fee just because I add a child to my reservation.
Another perk about family-friendly resorts is that they’re bound to have free entertainment and crafts for kids to do each day. One resort that my family stayed at even had a kids’ club and babysitters.
7. Go Camping
This is likely what my family and I will do this summer with all the social distancing going on. We usually camp every summer, but this year I was looking into RVs or cabins. I found a family-friendly campsite with affordable cabins that have bathrooms and showers inside along with a stove.
I like that we won’t have to use public bathrooms and can cook most of our meals in the cabin. Activities like hiking, fishing, bike riding, boating, and playing sports will all be free or pretty affordable. If you have a tent and some sleeping bags, there are some campsites that won’t cost you much at all.
Going on vacation with family is one of the best ways to eliminate distractions, unwind and build lasting memories with your loved ones. Don’t let your finances prevent you from planning affordable family vacations.