Summer vacations are usually on everyone’s agenda; the kids are out of school and you’ve been working hard all year, you’re all overdue for a break.
But they can be expensive.
It takes some budgeting throughout the year to keep a week-long trip from draining your bank account just before back-to-school season.
Unfortunately, summer is also one of the most expensive times to plan a getaway because everyone else’s kids are out of school and they’ve been working hard too. Everyone is looking to get away which means that hotels and airlines can charge premium rates.
Even though it’s a more expensive time of year to travel, you need to the time away.
You all need a break, a change of scenery, and some quality time together. It’s healthy for both your body and your mind; plus, it’s great bonding time for your family.
Hopefully, you’ve been putting a little money aside from your monthly spending plan all year to be able to take this vacation.
But if you haven’t, or you have but still need to cut expenses, or you’d just rather not spend a small fortune, there are some ways to find budget friendly summer vacation resources to reduce your vacation costs.
BUDGET FRIENDLY SUMMER VACATION TIPS
Limit your drive time. If you’re planning a road trip destination, plan a trip that won’t take more than a tank of gas to get there. This is a great way to save money. One tank of gas there and another back is far less expensive than plane tickets for the whole family.
How far can you go on one tank? At least a few hundred miles. You should be able to find someplace fun to go within that radius. Choose a few possible destinations then take a family vote to decide which one to enjoy.
Invite friends and family along. Renting a house at the beach is much less expensive when other people share the cost with.
Find a vacation rental that will accommodate a few families. Once you split the cost, it will be much less expensive than vacationing on your own.
As an added bonus, if you rent a vacation house instead of a hotel, you’ll have a kitchen and can prepare your own meals which will save you a lot more than eating out. You can split the grocery bill and the meal prep time between the other families so no one has to do all the cooking and cleaning.
Before leaving, plan your meals based on quick prep time, little clean up, and even using a slow cooker to make life easier.
Be flexible about your destination. Don’t make a final decision about where to go until you check out deals and discounts that may be available. Do a little online research, it will be well worth your time.
Are flights cheaper heading out towards the west coast? Great, plan a vacation to the Grand Canyon. Are flights to Cancun less expensive than Florida right now? Head to Mexico. Look for great deals, then plan your trip accordingly. Compare rates between airlines as well. One airline may be offering the same flight for 10-20% less than another.
Go to an all-inclusive resort. This is a great way to know, up-front, exactly what your vacation will cost. No surprise expenses. Everything from meals, hotel rooms, entertainment, and family activities are included. Depending on the age of your kids, many resorts offer free stays for little ones.
You’ll get a great family vacation and you’ll know before you even leave home what you’ll be spending so you won’t need to worry about tracking your expenses while you’re vacationing.
Find vacation coupons. Don’t forget about visiting sites like Groupon and Living Social to find vacation package deals. Many resorts, hotels, and family attractions offer discounts over the summer to increase their traffic.
All of that means you get a better deal. Especially if you’re open to new ideas about where to go for your trip. You may find a great deal on a destination you’ve never considered. Or you may find deals on attractions near the destination you’ve already planned to visit.
Don’t forget meals. If you’re planning to eat out while you’re away, look for discounts at local restaurants. Groupon and Living Social are again great places to check, but Restaurant.com will help you save a bundle too.
You can search for available restaurant deals using the zip code of your destination. Restaurant.com will show you all the restaurants in that area that participate and even give you links to their websites so you can see the menus. Then you can purchase gift certificates at a huge discount. Usually, $25 gift certificates are just $10 and $50 certificates are $20.
Keep your eye out for promo codes and use Honey (a Chrome extension) to get your certificates for as little as $2-$5.
Stay home. If all else fails and a getaway is just not in the budget this year, plan a great staycation instead.
Become a tourist in your home town by visiting all the free sites and attractions like museums and parks. Most of us never take the time to be tourists near home.
You may be surprised at all you find to do right near home. Plan fun family adventures like camping in the backyard or having a movie night with an ice cream sundae bar. Decorate your home with fresh flowers, put clean sheets on all the beds, and give the house a good cleaning before your staycation starts so you don’t have to worry about it for the week. Make sure you take time off work and limit your family’s time on digital devices so it feels like a real vacation.
With a little planning, it may end up being the best vacation you’ve ever had.
Getting some much-needed time away from the “real world” doesn’t have to cause stress over the expense. With a little planning and some research, you can find great deals this summer within your budget. You can still enjoy some wonderful family memories and some needed down time.