It’s possible to have a great vacation while keeping the costs down; you have to do your prep and use a few tricks while you’re away. Far from limiting the fun, saving money while on vacation can lead to a much more memorable family getaway. Here’s how to keep the costs down:
Use your credit card as much as possible
That may sound the like the exact opposite of saving, but we’re talking about using credit cards that give you frequent flyer points before you go away. There’re a number of them on the market; some even offer schemes where both card provider and associated airlines reward you, meaning double points. Start using your credit card instead of cash early to save up as many points as possible before your family vacation. Pay off the card at the end of each month, and you’ve got free air miles!
Not every purchase will be eligible for points, so find the best card and check the terms before you sign up. While we’re talking transport, if you’re hiring a car, use comparison sites and book as far in advance as possible to get the cheapest day rates. Consider the insurance available from the comparison sites too, as it’s often much less expensive than cover bought at the pick-up desk.
Stay off the beaten track
The more popular the location, the more expensive it will be to stay there. This applies to resorts, accommodation, and attractions. To overcome the costs, get online, search forums, read magazines and find destinations that are up-and-coming or off the tourist trail. You don’t have to vacation somewhere that’s well-established as a holiday destination, it’s a big world full of fun for your family.
If you really must be somewhere accessible, look to stay nearby and trade a short walk or car journey to the action for a significant saving on accommodation costs.
Rent a home or get one for free
One of, if not the most significant expense when on vacation is your accommodation, especially when you have a family. So ditch the conventional idea of a hotel or resort, and stay in a house instead. The emergence of home letting sites such as Airbnb has led to a whole new marketplace for vacation accommodation. Sure, you don’t get the comprehensive service, but you might get a pool and even better – you can save massive amounts on food costs.
Homes come with kitchens, meaning you can feed your family for less than eating out at restaurants (particularly useful and cost-effective at breakfast time). To save even more money while on vacation, you could swap your home for someone else’s. Sites such as HomeExchange.com allow you to search for houses and offer your own in exchange. Sometimes you can even get the car included! House-sitting is another option.
Vacation like a local
Don’t just turn up on vacation and be a tourist, that’s when you end up paying premium prices. Arm yourself with local knowledge before you go and find out more from locals when you get there. Trade the ‘Top 10’ for museums and park spaces, they’re often free and a feast for the senses for both old and young. Look for restaurants off the tourist trail that have ‘kids eat free’ days, and find local venues with free special event days.
Start before you leave by checking the tourist department website for the country or city you’re going to, it should have all the information you need. When you get there, go to Tourist Information and speak to a local expert about what’s on offer. Ask your hosts, guests and anyone you meet what they did or have been to. Get on Facebook groups, TripAdvisor and travel blogs – mainly do all the stuff you would do back home to find things to do of a weekend. It can take just a morning to plan out enough free trips for a two-week vacation, saving you hundreds of dollars.
See the big sites without the significant cost
Organised excursions are an excellent way to spend lots of hard-earned dollars, especially for a family. So instead of paying, organize them yourself – don’t do the City Bus Tour, find a bus or tram that goes a similar route. Instead of heading out of town on a coach trip, take a train. Use public transport as much as possible; it’s cheap and the best way to see the big sites, while discovering the hidden attractions locals love.
Enjoy family fun for less
So there we have it, five easy ways to save money while on a family vacation, and still, have a brilliant time. Do a little planning in advance, and you can hit the ground running when you get there, maximizing every minute and every dollar.
Guest Contributor Bio
Sharon Pascoe has been a finance content writer for over eight years and now writes for Finance and Lifestyle, the blog of First Quality Finance