Traveling with your kids is an amazing way to create lifelong memories and build strong, healthy relationships. While crazy schedules and limited budgets make taking family vacations challenging, they are well worth the effort. Research suggests that spending money on experiences rather than spending it on things is helpful in building long-term happiness, and what parent wouldn’t want to do that for their kids?
While traveling certainly isn’t cheap, there are things you can do to make your next vacation a bit more affordable.
Here are a few money-saving travel tips for your family’s next adventure.
Also read: 5 Best Travel Credit Cards in India
1. Travel at the Right Time
When it comes to saving big on travel expenses, it often comes down to timing. By traveling at less desirable times, you can save yourself a bundle. Instead of booking your flight on a Saturday afternoon, try to fly midweek, early in the morning, or late at night. If you are booking online, use the site’s flexible travel-date search option. This allows you to compare fares for a few days around your intended travel day.
Also, consider visiting popular destinations during the off-season. If you plan your trip outside of peak season, you will likely get a better deal on hotel accommodations. You may even end up spending less on admission to various attractions. Just make sure that everything you plan on checking out will be open when you visit.
2. Shop for Tickets in Advance
If you plan on visiting attractions like museums, theme parks, etc., shop for your tickets in advance. Many attractions offer discount advance tickets online. If you are a member of a group like AAA, you may be able to save even more.
Dig around for great deals through sites like Living Social and Groupon. Check out Groupon’s “Things to Do” and Living Social’s “Events and Activities” to look for great deals on area attractions and activities. You may score tickets to a place you planned on visiting at a great price, or you may end up learning about something amazing you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.
3. Rent an Apartment or House
Instead of staying at a hotel, consider booking a short-term apartment or house. When you book through Airbnb or a similar service, you will likely spend significantly less per square foot than you would spend staying in a hotel. If you have a large family, the savings are especially huge.
Staying in a short-term rental property also enables you to prepare your own meals instead of needing to eat out several times per day. This in itself can save you a huge amount of money.
To really get the most bang for your buck, consider inviting your friends or relatives along and asking them to chip in on renting a home that is big enough to comfortably accommodate everyone. If you are able to divide the cost among multiple people, the savings are huge. Plus, sharing a home with multiple people means you can split the cost of groceries.
4. Use Technology to Your Advantage
Saving on travel expenses is easier than ever thanks to the technology we now have at our fingertips. There are plenty of apps that can help you save money and enjoy an amazing vacation. Download GasBuddy to find the best gas prices while you are on the road. Check Yelp when you are looking for a restaurant with great food and reasonable prices. Download the Kayak app and use it to create price alerts that are sent to you via text or email when the price on your desired airfare route drops.
Another app, known as Service, can be used to keep track of all of your flight and hotel bookings. If your flight is delayed or canceled, the app will file a claim for compensation on your behalf. If the price of your room drops, Service automatically re-books you at the lower rate prior to your check-in time. The app is free to download, but if they get your money back for a booking, they take 30 percent. It’s still a pretty great deal, though, that can save you a lot of money.
5. Buy Your Vacation Clothing in Bulk
Buying new clothes to wear on vacation can be expensive–especially when you are trying to outfit an entire family. Save yourself a fortune by buying the essentials in bulk. For the kids, order plain T-shirts in a variety of colors. They are inexpensive, easy to pack, and versatile enough for just about any destination. Buying in bulk also means having several pieces and not needing to worry about doing laundry while you are on vacation.
1. Pack Plenty of Snacks
If you are planning a road trip with the family, be sure to bring plenty of snacks. Sure, you could stop at gas stations along the way and pick up snacks when you are hungry, but it’s much cheaper to pick them up ahead of time. Single-serving-size packages cost much more than snacks sold in larger quantities. For the cost of a single granola bar at the gas station, you could buy an entire box at the grocery store. Packing your own snacks will also help you avoid impulse buys by preventing unnecessary stops.
Make sure you have snacks on hand once you reach your destination, too. If you are staying in a hotel, having the kids run to the vending machine multiple times per day will add up fast.
2. Stay Local
A family vacation is an amazing opportunity for making memories and building happiness. Keep in mind, though, that when it comes to traveling with kids, bigger isn’t always better. While your dream vacation may involve spending a few weeks relaxing in a tropical paradise, your kids (especially younger ones) would be just as happy to spend a weekend in a nearby city. It’s all about having new experiences and making memories, so where you go isn’t as important as what you do.
Whether you are planning a trip around the world or visiting the next state over, the tips above can save you a bundle!