Traveling with the family can be rewarding. Unfortunately, it can also be expensive, not to mention stressful. But there are practical ways you can save money and still ensure your family vacation becomes one for the scrapbook.
Travel During the Off-Season
Most families tend to travel in the summer or during school breaks. Depending on the age of your children, you might feel tempted to do the same. But traveling in the off-season means cheaper flights, hotel rooms, and even attractions.
Think about vacationing in fall or winter—just not during the holiday season—for the best deals. Depending on your destination, other seasons or time frames might work better. For example, TripSavvy says Disneyland is less crowded for specific weeks in January, February, and April. Research your destination and travel route ahead of time to find the best deals.
Drive Instead of Fly
It’s no secret that airline flights are expensive. But when you have a family—plus lots of luggage—the costs add up even faster. Forbes confirms that driving is nearly always a better deal—especially when traveling with a large group like a family of four or more. To save cash, consider renting a vehicle—unless yours already gets excellent fuel economy. Choosing a fuel-efficient car means low gas costs and fewer pit stops.
For added savings, decline the insurance the rental car company tacks on. Instead of opting for their per-day coverage, you can save by purchasing one-week car insurance. This insurance is a great option for vacationers, but it’s not available everywhere.
Invest in Kid-Friendly Entertainment
Most parents try to limit their kids’ technology use. But travel can be stressful for the whole family—especially if you must fly—and relying on smart devices may make your trip easier. You might decide to invest in a tablet with a nice, big screen that your child can use during the journey for games, learning, or even making art. Look for a tablet made of extra-durable glass that will withstand just about anything your little ones can throw at it. If you’re looking to sign up for a new cell service plan, you may be in luck. Some providers offer sign-up deals where you can save on a new tablet if you sign a yearly contract.
Track Your Trip
Though there are plenty of budget fares available these days, they aren’t very reliable. Basically, prices in the travel industry change minute by minute. But no matter how you plan to travel or where you want to stay, there’s a price-tracking tool to help. Instead of performing one online search and selecting a flight, hotel, rental car, or destination, set up alerts to watch trends come and go.
Tracking and email or other alert systems are available on sites like Google Flights, Kayak, Camelodge, Roomkey, Skyscanner, and Hopper.
By watching how prices change, you can determine the best date to travel as well as the best time to purchase your tickets or make a hotel reservation.
Choose Unconventional Accommodations
Often, the highest cost associated with family travel is that of accommodations. Booking multiple rooms for a large family quickly adds up. If you choose nontraditional places to stay, however, you might find better deals.
Consider the emergence of vacation rental sites. These services make it easier to reserve a home, apartment, or condo with all the amenities a family needs. Staying in a vacation rental eliminates the need to book multiple rooms.
And, since you can prepare food in a full kitchen at your rental, you can eat out less. This is good news on both fronts, as the U.S. Travel Association states that food services and lodging are the top spending categories for travelers.
Traveling with a family can be expensive—but it doesn’t have to be. With these tips and a little planning, you’ll enjoy an affordable vacation your kids will never forget. Prepare ahead of time as much as possible to reduce stress so that everyone can focus on having fun.
Photo via Unsplash
Alexis Hall is a single mom to three kids. She created Single Parent to provide support and advice for the many families out there with only one parent in the household. She works as an in-home health nurse. When she isn’t working or spending time with her kids, she enjoys running and hiking and is currently training for a triathalon.
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