Summer vacations can be costly—especially if you have children. With airfare prices, gas prices and even lodging prices rising, it seems like a family-friendly vacation is becoming more trouble than it’s worth.
Though traveling can be expensive, there are ways to keep your family happy while sticking to a budget. Here’s how:
Pick the Right Day
Did you know the cheapest days to book a flight are Tuesdays and Wednesdays? Because online airline bookings tend to reset themselves late Tuesday/early Wednesday morning, booking a flight mid-week will help cut costs in a big way! Avoid booking a flight on weekends whenever possible, as these times are far and away the busiest (and most expensive).
Though this may not be considered a last-minute saving tip, booking your flight in advance can help you find the best deals. In fact, a recent Huffington Post article found the best, most cost-effective time to book your flight is exactly 54 days in advance. Pretty technical stuff, right?
Over four million trips were analyzed in order to find that perfect booking sweet spot. They found that ticket prices were the most expensive the day before the flight, and were the cheapest 54 days before. Though this number isn’t an exact science, it just goes to show the importance of booking well in advance.
Eat This, Not That
As if paying $10 for a decent burger and fries wasn’t expensive enough, what about the rest of the family? Planning your meals ahead of time will help you save a tremendous amount of money. Try to limit your dining out to one meal a day, this way the kids will still be happy and your wallet will thank you for it.
What kinds of foods does everyone like? If PB&Js are a clear winner, pack a few in advance. Instead of wasting your money at that overpriced restaurant down the street, plan your meals ahead.
Skip the Hotel
Room service, breakfast buffets and indoor pools may sound nice, but are they really worth it? Aside from the ever-expensive transportation costs, lodging is known to be the second biggest expense for any vacation. So, instead of shelling out the big bucks so you and yours can watch HBO on the small screen, look for cheaper accommodations like hostels. (Not familiar with hostels? Check out this blog post to see how hostels and hotels differ.)
Or, if you’re planning on staying for more than a few days, a condo or a house may be your best bet. Paying a weekly rate for a house or condo is usually much cheaper than a standard hotel. Plus, you get the added benefit of having more room to cook and relax.
Be Mindful of Unnecessary Insurance When Renting a Car
While paying more for auto rental insurance may sound like a good idea, it can sometimes be a huge waste of money. Be sure to check your own car insurance policy before opting in for rental insurance, as some policies actually cover rental insurance. If your own insurance covers the rental, then why spend an extra few hundred on unnecessary insurance?
Use Public Transportation
Speaking of cars, why not skip driving altogether? Instead of blowing a small fortune on a rental car, utilize public transport as much as possible.
Be sure to research your travel destination before you decide to visit. If possible, look for lodging that’s within walking distance of buses and trains. Using public transport is an easy way to save while also helping you get a better feel of the city. However, if you’re traveling with small children, using public transport may not be your best option.
Visiting a Popular Tourist Spot? Plan Ahead
If you’re planning on visiting a popular tourist attraction this summer, be sure you have everything you need beforehand. Things like sunscreen, bug spray, and even bottled water can often cost up to three times the retail amount at certain popular travel spots, so plan ahead. If you know you’re going to need a certain something, buy it in advance. This applies to food as well.
While it’s practically impossible to enjoy a vacation without breaking the bank a little, following these tips will help you have fun with the family without having to spend an arm and a leg.
Planning a trip this summer? How are you planning on saving money? Let us know in the comments below!