Stretch Your Vacation Budget Without Sacrificing Family Fun
You work all year to afford a nice family trip, but then it’s over just as soon as it began. What if you could stretch your vacation dollars? Well, you can, and the following ideas can help! By watching your spending, you’ll have some cash for another trip or can enjoy a few luxuries that you might have otherwise had to forgo.
Take the kids for free
If you have children, and especially those in the 12 and under crowd, there are plenty of places you can go that will sleep, feed, and even entertain the smallest members of your travel pack for free. Travelocity’s list of hotels that offer kids stay or eat free packages include choices in Cancun and Punta Cana, but many larger hotel chains offer similar promotions, you just have to look before you book. Similarly, a handful of cruise lines allow toddlers and tweens to set sail without paying an additional fee as long as they are in a stateroom with a parent.
Skip the cute new vacation clothes
It’s tempting to buy yourself and your children a few new outfits to commemorate the journey (in other words, for the photos). However, keep in mind that those matching outfits could easily equal an extra night or two. If you must buy something, consider buying second-hand because buying used is easier on your wallet while also being better for the environment. Depending on where you’re going, you may also have the option of renting gear that you might need along the way. This is super helpful when you have a baby and can save you from paying extra baggage fees for a bassinet or full-size stroller.
Give the busy season the cold shoulder
You don’t necessarily have to wait until summer to have a fun-filled vacation. Although summer is peak season for many of the top tourist destinations, there are plenty of “shoulder seasons” where you can enjoy a great rate and wonderful weather. Skip the holiday weekends, and look for deals on different days. You can do this on most hotel websites by putting in your preferred nights and clicking the option for flexible travel dates, which can reveal deep discounts just by rearranging your schedule. Hotels set their prices based on many variables, including special events and room availability. If you book a room after a music festival or a professional sports game, for example, you may be able to get rates that would allow you to spend an extra night or two without going over budget.
Make it a “Staycation”
Instead of dealing with flight delays and long drives, you always have the option of taking your vacation in and around Los Angeles. Turnkey notes that the LA area has tons of attractions for the whole family whether you want to stay near the ocean in Santa Monica or in Central LA where you could take your kids to Paramount Studios or the Staples Center for a game or concert. If you want to save even more, plan to rent a private home, which is often cheaper than a hotel, and gives you the option to cook your own meals.
Know the difference between discount and deceit
There are several types of travel discount programs out there, but, as Smarter Travel explains, they aren’t always as good of a deal as they appear on the surface. In reality, many discount programs don’t offer any advantages and may wind up costing you more in the long run. Bundled tickets are often the worst value since they usually come in pairs of two, meaning you still have to buy for the kids, and may only include one or two desirable attractions. Before you swipe your card to purchase a discount book or membership, decide what attractions you will actually visit, and then look on their website first to see what discounts are available. You may find that booking directly is the best way to go. More importantly, booking directly through venues for admission to some attractions can help you avoid those sneaky service fees charged by ticket brokers.
There’s no getting around pulling out your wallet when it’s time to go on vacation. But book smart, which usually means booking directly, and don’t blow your budget by buying new things you don’t need. With a little creativity, you’ll have enough to enjoy a vacation now and maybe another one later in the year.