We are a family of six and vacation money has always been tight, but that has never kept us from taking a frugal family getaway. With a little planning, spending some fun family time in interesting places has always been within our reach. Perhaps these tips will get your frugal travel ideas flowing and help you fit in some refreshing family time soon!
1. Plan your time – Check the website of any travel location you are considering to see if there is an off-season discount available. Many hotels and airlines are looking to fill empty rooms and planes during these off-peak periods, offering fantastic deals to those willing to travel out of season. Besides the money savings of off-season travel, the added advantage of fewer crowds and shorter lines at attractions gives more time to enjoy your vacation destination. Be aware that some museums and visitor centers have shorter hours or are closed in the off-season so check schedules and hours of operation before you travel.
2. Find accommodations that fit your family’s need –Traveling with a family for four or more can be a huge investment, one that requires more than one typical hotel room. Consider booking a suite or even a condo which may end up being less expensive and definitely more convenient. Suites often come with a separate bedroom and a sofa bed in the living area. This added space not only allows everyone a good night’s rest but becomes a home base for exploring a vacation destination. Condos include a kitchen with cooking facilities and a refrigerator. Eating at least one meal in the room will save you big bucks and provide a place to store snacks and drinks. As an alternative, look for hotels that offer a free breakfast with the room.
3. Stick close to home – If you live in an area that has vacation destinations near-by, take a “staycation” and play tourist close to home. Take out a map of your local area and determine how far you can drive in a day. Look for interesting places you could enjoy without putting too many miles on the odometer. This saves money on gas, hotels, and food. Checking your public library for a local guidebook to your state should give you some frugal day-trip ideas for your next staycation.
4. Pack your own drinks and snacks –Nothing shoots a family vacation budget faster than eating out at every meal or stopping at a convenience store for snacks. Put together a cooler before you leave home with favorite drinks and fresh fruits. A small stash of portable snacks can be a lifesaver when traveling. Pack energy rich items like nuts and granola bars which can substitute for a meal if needed. Hungry children (and moms) can ruin a day fast so having a favorite snack item and a cool drink can get you back out and enjoying your trip as soon as possible. Planning ahead will save money as well as frustration.
5. Research frugal activities ahead of time – Use the internet to search out inexpensive and free activities for your family’s vacation. Locate free museum days, nature centers, self-guided walking tours, parks and hiking trails, and if you want to go to a paying attraction, check their website for a coupon or discount code. Check with family and friends for ideas and suggestions. This time is well invested if you find ways to save money and have fun!
What are your tips for planning a frugal family vacation?