Summer is coming soon and for many families, it means time for vacation.
While Disney World can extremely fun (I know I’ve been there a few times), it can be expensive, but it’s not the only kid friendly destination for your family vacation. There are some wonderful ways you and your family can bond and stay on your budget.
Camping in Style
One of the best we took was to the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina with friends. We camped around there and got an up close view of the leaves changing. Going out with experienced campers made the trip even better as they were able to help us pack what we needed and provided most of the gear.
Speaking of gear, if this is your family’s first trip, borrow or rent your gear. There is no need to buy everything. Besides saving you some money, you’ll also have a better idea of what you actually use and what was pointless once you’ve been on a trip.
I want to mention that not all campgrounds are the same. Where we stayed, the property had hot showers and laundry facilities on the property. Some of the bigger places also offer wi-fi- so you’re not completely in the dark. If you find a place that you like, sign up to become a member. It can help you save on future trips.
For those who love hanging outdoors, but not spending the night out there, you can have the best of both worlds by finding a campsite that offers cabins. That gives you a chance to enjoy talking and bonding under the stars, but have a warm bed waiting for you when it’s time to crash.
Exploring a City (Without Breaking the Budget)
If you’re more inclined to take a vacation in the city, you can have a wonderful time without breaking your budget. It may be tempting to go out of town during holiday weekends, but it will also be the most expensive time to see the city. Instead look for deals off peak and consider visiting a place during the fall or spring so you can have good weather and great prices.
Become a Master at Bidding
When we travel for conferences, most times it’s in a major city. To make sure that we keep our expenses within reason and still have a good time, my husband and I use sites like Priceline to bid for deals. Many times, we have gotten significant discounts on hotels and flights.
Basically with these programs, you submit what you’re willing to pay and the hotels/airlines will either accept or deny your request. We start early and slowly raise our prices until it’s accepted. While it’s perfect for us, it’s not for everyone. There are a few things you should keep in mind with bid services.
- Many times, you don’t know which airline or hotel you get until your bid is accepted. Not a major thing for us as I find most airlines to offer similar services and since we only look at 4 star hotels, the ‘winner’s are usually great.
- You may not get points for hotel programs. This varies based on hotel programs, so check with yours to see if you can earn some extra points.
- You can only specify a zone for the city you want to stay in. While breaking it down by neighborhoods can make it much more helpful, you still have to make sure the area you pick is conveniently located.
Should you get travel insurance when you book your trip? You have decide for yourself based on several factors including risk tolerance, cancellation policy, geographic region. If you used a credit card to make your reservations, you may already have it as a cardholder. Simply call your credit card company to double check.
We found a great deal on a car rental by basically following the same strategy with starting low and slowly increasing our bids. You can increase your savings by looking for cash back opportunities. Maybe your credit card offers travel bonuses or you can go through a rebate site.
Live Like a Local
Besides travel deal sites, you may want to look at options like Airbnb where you can rent a room or an entire place at cheaper rates than hotels around. The advantage of renting a place to yourself is the chance to live a bit like the locals. You can grab food at the local grocery stores and prepare your breakfast and snacks in the mornings. That frees you up to explore the city without having to take expensive breaks. Save that money for dinner, after you got some recommendations from locals about the best spots.
Thoughts on Frugal and Fun Vacations
I’d love to hear from you about your best vacations and tips on saving. What was your favorite place to visit?