a hand holds a jar of coins saying savings

Tips for Taking Family Vacations on a Budget

Aug 03,2022read

Many families believe that traveling is always expensive and therefore unattainable. However, that does not have to be the case. There are many ways that a family can vacation while on a budget. Here we will go over some tips on ways families can save money on transportation, overnight stays, eating out, and attractions.

Save Money on Transportation

a stack of money, a compass and a toy plane suggest travel

Photo by MOHD AZRIN on Unsplash

There are a few ways to save money on transportation during a family vacation. Whether your family decides to travel by car, plane, bus, or train, here are a few tips to follow.

  • Look at All Transportation Options

There are many ways to travel to your next vacation spot, so make sure that you are looking at all options to get the best deal. Sometimes driving a few hours can be cheaper than purchasing plane tickets for a whole family. However, make sure that if there is no parking at the hotel you are staying at, that you take into account public parking prices. Some other options for transportation are busses and trains.

  • Compare Flights

Before purchasing the first deal you come across, make sure that you have researched and compared all options. If you are planning on flying, compare flights from different websites. A great database to look at is Google Flights. This website looks at all major travel websites and individual airline websites.  In addition, Google Flights will show prices for different days, so families can see if it is cheaper to flyout or fly back on a certain day of the week.

  • Book As Far in Advance as Possible

Some flights allow tickets to be purchased as far out as six months. Try to purchase plane tickets as soon as possible. The sooner you can purchase, the cheaper the ticket will be.

  • Use Public Transportation

Families that are staying in bigger cities can use public transportation instead of renting a car or taking taxis. Many cities offer day passes or weekly passes on all public transportations, which can save even more money if you plan on traveling around the city a lot.

Save Money on Accommodations

Night exterior Scottys Hotel

Photo by Daniel Gregoire on Unsplash

  • Choose the Days You Travel Wisely

Hotels can be less expensive during off-season dates. Usually off season is when the kids are still in school, between September and June. If it is possible to take the kids out of school for a long weekend trip or even a weeklong trip, then traveling during the school months is the best. In addition, staying at hotels during the weekdays is usually less expensive than the weekend, so families can save money by having their shorter vacations be during week days.

  • Shop Around for Accommodations

There are a few ways to save on accommodations. One way is to stay in a budget-friendly hotel instead of a four- or five-star hotel. Some budget friendly hotels include chains like Travel Lodge, Red Roof Inn, and even nicer hotels like Holiday Inn.

Families that are big enough may even consider renting an entire house on a website like Airbnb or Vrbo. Larger families that may need two hotel rooms may find that renting an entire house is less expensive.

  • Camp Out

Camping in one of the beautiful National Parks across America is a great way to spend a vacation while also saving money on eating out and a hotel room. Camping usually requires a small camp site fee, and then all food can be bought at a local store to grill out. Camping not only saves money on accommodations, but on food and attractions as well.

Save Money on Food While Traveling

a hand holds a jar of coins saying savings

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  • Avoid Eating Out for Every Meal

One way to save money when traveling is to avoid eating out at every meal. Staying at a hotel that offers a free continental breakfast will save at least a few bucks each day. In addition, finding accommodations with a kitchen can allow families to cook in for lunch or dinner.  If families can not find a hotel with a full kitchen, then even having a mini-fridge and microwave will allow families to grab some deli meat or pre-cooked meals in which they can pack for picnics or have for dinner. In addition, many hotels have picnic areas with grills. Running to the market and picking a few things up to throw on the grill can be a great way to save some money.

  • Choose Wisely When Eating Out

It may not be possible to eat in for every meal, so one way that families can save is to eat at fast food chains. These establishments are usually cheaper than full sit-down restaurants.

If your family wanted to try some local food, then sharing a meal could be a good option. A lot of times the proportions in restaurants are large, so splitting a meal between two kids or adults could save some money. Another option could be to just grab a few appetizers to share among the group. Eating out during lunch hours is usually cheaper than dinner and often times serve the same stuff. Check to see if the restaurant you want to visit has any happy hour specials and try to go during that time.

Save Money on Family Fun Activities

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Photo by Tower Paddle Boards on Unsplash

  • Search the Internet

There are some great websites that offer savings on restaurants, activities, and attractions in different cities. Some options are Groupon, LivingSocial, and Travel Zoo. Some cities even have their own discount websites, so make sure to check your vacation spot as well.

Checking the attraction’s website could also be helpful. Sometimes amusement parks or other attractions have coupons on their websites that they may not offer at the door.

  • Stop By a Visitor Center

Visitors Centers will usually have pamphlets for different attractions in the area and often these will include coupons that could save families some money. If a family is visiting a bigger city, they may want to check if there is a City Pass to purchase. These passes get individuals into multiple attractions at a discounted price. Sometimes these City passes even include unlimited rides on public transportation.

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