Summer is officially here. That means it’s time to plan or take your next family vacation. It’s often overwhelming to try to plan a vacation and not break the bank. That’s where we come in. We’re here to give you tips to show you how to save money on your next vacation. We can’t promise all of these ideas will all be new to you, but we hope you will find a few nuggets that will help you with saving money on your future vacations.
Of course, the first step to saving money on your next vacation begins at the planning stage. One of our favorite resources we use when planning trips is Trip Advisor. There is nothing worse than arriving at a hotel or excursion that is subpar. Trip Advisor is also a great way to stumble upon places or activities you might not have thought about otherwise.
Another way to save money on your next vacation is to be flexible with your dates. Many times you can save a hundred dollars or more by shifting your dates one way or the other. Many hotel sites and airline sites allow you to see the monthly calendar to see the best rates.
This is the tip people avoid the most but it might be one of the best ways to save money on your next vacation. Creating a budget for your next trip is the best way to be sure you save the money you need for the trip as well as keep your spending in check on the trip. Our favorite resource to do this is YNAB (You need a budget). Our family has used this program for over two years. It is a great tracking system where you can easily track your spending as well as budget for upcoming trips.
This might seem like an odd topic in planning to save money on a vacation. However, if you are planning an international trip or trip where you are going to be adventurous it’s a good idea to have insurance in case something goes wrong. My husband and I recently took a trip to Whistler, Canada. We purchased insurance from World Nomads. World Nomads provides travel insurance to travelers from over 140 countries. Thankfully we did not need to use it but it did give us a peace of mind in case something did happen. Of course, if you do decide to purchase travel insurance you want to be sure to read the terms and conditions of the policy wording/description of coverage and decide if the policy is right for you.
A great way to save money is to plan a vacation right in your own home town. Check out your local visitor bureau and you are sure to find experiences you haven’t tried as a family yet. Our family lives in Central Florida so in the last year we have had several staycations.
Get A Side Gig
We just discussed creating a budget to save up for the trip, but what if you don’t have extra money in your budget? It might be time for a side gig. Here are some of the things our family has done to make extra money to use to travel.
Teach English Online
For over two years I have been fortunate enough to teach English online to children in China. I currently work for VIPKID. I honestly can’t think of a better job. It is so flexible and the perfect job for me as a stay-at-home mom/homeschool mom. It is also the perfect job for travelers. You can do this job anywhere as long as you have a good internet connection. Since the children are in China the teaching times are when my children are asleep. When I signed up I never thought I would fall in love with the job as much as I have. This is the main source of side income for our family.
If you are interested in this gig I would be happy to help you with the interview. The three main requirements are 1) Bachelor’s Degree 2) Eligibility to work in the US or Canda 3) 1 yr experience with children (this can be anything from Sunday school teacher, little league coach, babysitting, etc). A teaching certificate is preferred but not necessary. If you don’t have a teaching degree you will be able to take a short TESOL course during the application process. If interested, simply sign up through the link(s) above and I will receive an email notifying me as such. Once I receive the email I will be in contact with you to help you prep 🙂
You know all those baby clothes in bins in your closet? It’s time to purge. If your like me it’s hard to get rid of those sweet little clothes, but there’s money in those clothes. I recently took the plunge and started going through my boys clothes. We have a Just Between Friends consignment sale near us. You create tags for your items and then you share a percentage of your earnings with the organizer. I made about $300. Not too shabby for my first try. You can usually consign toys as well.
Just like a consignment sale, a garage sale is a great way to bring in some extra money and get rid of things you no longer need. Some tips to make it even more profitable: get together with neighbors and have a multi-family garage sale, post it on local garage sale sites, make clear and bright signs.
Groupon is always a go-to when I am planning our family trips. You can often find fantastic deals on hotels and discounts on things to do at or near your destination. Just be sure to read the fine print to be clear on all that is included with the Groupon.
This one is a last-minute helper but you can often find local coupons to help save money on your trip. I know restaurants in the Central Florida area are often offering to buy an adult ticket get a child-free to Legoland. This is a great saving if you were planning on attending Legoland. So keep your eyes peeled when you arrive at your destination for coupon books available. Even if it’s $2 per person at an attraction-you are saving $10 for a family of five. Every little bit helps!
I typically google restaurants and hotels when planning a trip. Sometimes it might just be for the pizza we are ordering in when we are on a trip. If you search your restaurant/hotel with the month and year [Legoland May 2019 coupon] it will usually locate if there is anything available. Of course not every place/hotel has a coupon or discount, but for the 5 minutes it takes me to search I find it worth it when I come across one!
If you are visiting a major city and you will be visiting popular tourist destinations you definitely want to look into multi-attraction tickets. One of our favorites is City Pass. We used one a trip a couple of years ago and it saved us a good chunk of money. As I mentioned they are available for most major cities. Here are links for Tampa Bay, Seattle, Atlanta, New York and Boston.
This is definitely not an option for everyone but have you considered traveling with family? This can be a big money saver. If you rent a house together you are going to cut your lodging cost in half. You can also stay in and cook and split the bill for the groceries and save a lot this way. Our family did this last summer and we were so surprised how cheap we were able to take a week vacation to the mountains. Not only did we save money but our children had playmates the entire time!
There are a couple of tricks we use when booking tickets that might help you save a little money as well.
Be sure each time you go into to search for the plane tickets you use an incognito window. This will guarantee you are getting the best price being offering at that time.
As mentioned before be flexible with your dates. Often moving your trip up or back by one day can save a significant amount of money. Most airlines allow you to see the entire calendar to get a good picture of when their lowest prices are being offered. This is a great way to plan the start and end date of your vacation if you have the wiggle room in your plans.
Cut Out Extras
Many airlines are now charging for things like checked baggage. You can avoid these extra fees by planning to just carry on your luggage. You can also pack snacks for your kids to avoid the high cost of snacks at the airport and on the plane.
Be sure to pay attention to the different levels of tickets offered. Sometimes there is a big price difference but there is no large difference between the different levels of tickets offered. I was recently looking into booking international travel for our family. There was approximately $120 per person difference between the first tier of tickets and the second. After comparing and speaking with a representative the only difference between the two tickets was that the second allowed for a carry-on bag. However, if we just pay for the carry-on bag at the airport we will only pay $60. In this case, it definitely paid off to buy the bottom-tier ticket. This is definitely not the case with all airlines but it is something to be careful about when booking.
Get Behind The Wheel
Before booking that next plane ticket be sure to look into the possibility of driving. There are clearly instances where flying is the obvious choice to save time and money. However, adding an extra day to your commute might end up saving you a good chunk of money.
Transfer A Car Or RV
This is something I recently learned about that really intrigued me but I haven’t tried yet. There are companies that need RVs and rental cars moved across the country to restock their inventory. Sometimes they will only charge a rental fee of $1 a day. I know it sounds unbelievable but the actual rental charge is $1. Now there are additional charges such as $1,000 insurance deposit, kitchen kits (if needed), linen kits (if needed) The two that I have looked into are Transfercar and imoova. From what I saw Transfercar your children have to be over 8. You basically pick up the vehicle at one point and move it to their desired destination. You are given a certain amount of days to move the vehicle. Occasionally they will even throw in a gas allowance and other perks. You would have to consider the cost of getting back home as well. However, I thought this is a great idea if you are considering becoming an RV travel family. It would allow you to try out an RV without a huge expense.
If visiting a major city a great way to save money is to take Public Transit. When my husband and I visited Chicago we were able to get to all of our desired destinations by foot, city bus, or the metro. This is also a great way to let your children experience various forms of transportation 🙂
In addition to airfare, lodging is where most of your money goes when taking a family trip. We have a couple of suggestions for you to consider when booking your lodging.
Unless you live under a rock you likely know about Airbnb. I have found Airbnb to be a great savings when visiting a new city. I also find that travel experiences are even richer when you are living amongst the locals.
Speaking of living amongst the locals have you ever thought about housesitting? With housesitting the person who owns the house allows you to stay at their house for free in exchange for you watching over their house and pets. Occasionally there might be other requests such as light cleaning, gardening, etc. We really love trusted housesitters. It is one of the few companies that requires both the house owner and house sitter to pay for a membership. We feel that this helps ensure both parties are committed to the overall goal of the partnership. Trusted housesitters also allows you to filter your searches to find the perfect fit. Membership is $119 a year for unlimited housesits. You can check it out here.
The next way to save money on your next vacation is to speak up and ask! Often you are one conversation away from saving some money.
Ask The Locals
Often the locals know the best places to eat as well as the best activities to participate in locally. When we took our trip to Whistler the locals told us about an authentic Italian hole in the wall restaurant. The food was amazing and the price was half of what we would have paid at some of the other well-known restaurants in the village.
Call The Hotel
When I am booking a hotel I always call the hotel direct and ask what is the best deal they can offer me. Sometimes it is the same price as online but several times I have been offered a lower price. I even once had a hotel ask me what I wanted to pay-what?!
Wait Until The Day Of
Now, this suggestion will drive the type-A’s crazy but if you can work it out you can receive significant savings by booking the day of. I had a friend who worked in the hotel industry and she told me that the hotel would much rather give a discounted rate than to have a hotel room sit empty. So wait until the day of and call the hotel in the afternoon and ask them what is the best price they can offer you. One thing with this tip is it will only work if you know that it is not a really busy week for hotels.
One of our favorite things to do as a family is eating out at restaurants. However, anyone who has tracked spending knows that eating out can add up fast! Here are some tips to save money on eating on your next vacation.
Look For Kids Eat Free
If you google the city you are in with “kids eat free” you usually can find a list of restaurants that offer kids eat free. I always call ahead and confirm to be sure that the offer is still available.
Skip The Drinks
I hate to say it because I love coca-cola just as much as the next person but you can save a good chunk of money if everyone in your family drinks water. It’s definitely not the popular choice but it’s the healthiest and the most cost-effective.
Even though it takes time and a little effort on the front end, packing lunches can be a great way to save money. I also think having a picnic as a family is a great memory maker. I remember vacationing in the mountains as a kid and we would often have a picnic right on the side of the road. So grab a brown bag and some pb&j and get your picnic ready 🙂
Cook & Grill In
As mentioned above our family loves to eat out, but we have found it can be one of the biggest hits to our pocketbook. It is likely that you will have a grocery store not far from the place you are staying. Even if you can reduce the eating out to once a day you will significantly cut the spending on your next vacation. It is often much healthier to eat in as well.
You made it to our last tip to save money on your next vacation-congratulations! Another big hit to your vacation budget is in the area of attractions. There are ways you can save and still spend some fun time as a family.
The National Parks are great places to visit and spend time as a family. Time in nature as a family is so great and the National Parks can be a cheap or free way to accomplish that goal. The parks also have a junior ranger program where the kids can complete tasks as they explore the area.
Travel Games & Books
Pack travel games and books. Another favorite memory from my childhood is sitting on the porch on our cabin playing game after game of travel connect four. I recently purchased it for my children and they have really enjoyed it as well. The travel varieties are nice because they fold up small to fit perfectly in your travel bag. We also love to bring book(s). I usually will bring whatever chapter book we are reading together as a family. I also typically pack a couple of books in each child’s carry on to have as our nightly read alouds.
I’m pretty sure most places you travel will have a local park. This is a great way to get some energy out and exercise and also interact with the locals.
Wowzers! That was a long list of ways to save money on your next family vacation. We hope you were able to find some tips to help you in your travels. Do you have any additional tips to add to our list? We would love for you to leave it in the comments below. Stay Peachy!