15 Savvy Ways to Save Money on Family Vacations

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Unleashing the Power of Thrifty Travel

Hey there, fellow moms! When the travel bug bites, the excitement of planning a family vacation starts bubbling up. But let’s be real: family vacations can sometimes put a strain on our wallets. So that you may make wonderful memories without going into debt, I’ve compiled a list of 15 ways to cut costs on your next family vacation. Let’s dive in and save some money!

1) Plan Ahead and Be Flexible

Planning ahead is the key to snagging great deals on flights, accommodations, and attractions. Be on the lookout for special deals and early bird pricing. Being flexible with your travel dates can also work wonders. Off-peak seasons often offer lower rates, and midweek flights and hotel stays tend to be more budget-friendly.

By booking your flights and hotel six months in advance you can often times save over 30% on your overall expenses. Bonus – you also have access to a greater variety of accommodation options – first dibs!

2) Embrace the Road Trip

Setting off on a thrilling road trip is undoubtedly an exhilarating adventure that promises unforgettable memories. It’s fun and affordable, especially for families looking to maximize their vacation. Road trips allow you to discover off-the-beaten-path treasures and save money on flying. Pack some snacks, create a killer playlist, and let the open road lead you to unforgettable experiences.

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Picture a road trip to the Grand Canyon! You’re saving a lot of money on flights, and you also get to stop at beautiful national parks and scenic places of interest. This lets you fully experience the awe-inspiring natural beauty of your journey.

3) Opt for Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals can be a budget-friendly alternative to hotels. Websites like Airbnb and VRBO offer a wide range of options, from cozy cabins to spacious condos. By renting a place with a kitchen, you can prepare your own meals, saving a significant amount on dining expenses.

Orlando, my stomping ground, has a ton of vacation rentals near the theme parks. Not only does it give you ample space to relax after long days of exploring, but you also save money by cooking your own breakfasts and packing lunches for the parks.

4) Research Free and Low-Cost Activities

Every destination offers a range of free or low-cost activities that are perfect for families. Before your trip, research local parks, museums with discounted family days, hiking trails, and community events. These options will keep the whole family entertained without draining your vacation fund.

San Francisco city’s museums, for example, offers free admission for children on specific days. You can spend an entire day exploring the California Academy of Sciences without spending a dime on entrance fees.

5) Take Advantage of Travel Rewards

If you’re a savvy credit card user, you can leverage travel rewards to your advantage. Sign up for a credit card that offers generous travel rewards and use it for your everyday expenses. Accumulated points can then be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, or even car rentals, reducing your travel costs significantly.

By diligently using a travel rewards credit card for our household expenses, we were able to accumulate enough points to cover the cost of our family’s flights to Hawaii. It felt like a free vacation, and we couldn’t have been happier! Now of course my kids keep asking when we are going back, so we are banking points again!

6) Pack Smart and Avoid Excess Baggage Fees

Packing smart not only helps you stay organized but also saves you from unnecessary expenses. Check the baggage policies of your airline and pack efficiently to avoid excess baggage fees. Consider bringing essential items from home, such as snacks and toiletries, instead of buying them at inflated prices during your trip.

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During our recent beach vacation, I made sure to pack reusable water bottles and refill them throughout the day. Not only did this save us from buying expensive bottled water, but it also helped reduce our plastic waste.

7) Dine Strategically

Eating out can quickly become a significant expense during family vacations. To cut down on costs, research affordable local eateries, food trucks, or farmers’ markets where you can experience local flavors without breaking the bank. Additionally, consider packing snacks and drinks for on-the-go moments.

During my girls and I trip to New York City, we discovered a hidden gem—a food market that offered a variety of delicious and affordable international cuisines. It became our go-to spot for meals, allowing us to indulge in different flavors without emptying our wallets.

8) Explore Nature’s Bounty

Nature offers countless opportunities for fun and adventure, often at no cost. Whether it’s hiking through national parks, swimming in natural lakes, or exploring local trails, immersing your family in nature’s bounty is not only budget-friendly but also provides valuable bonding time and unforgettable memories.

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Goosebumps just thinking about a camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, where you could spend your days hiking scenic trails, roasting marshmallows over a campfire, and stargazing in awe. Not only will you save money on accommodations, but you can also discover the beauty of nature firsthand.

9) Travel Off the Beaten Path

Popular tourist destinations often come with a hefty price tag. Consider exploring less-trodden paths and offbeat destinations, where prices are generally lower. In addition to saving money, you’ll be able to see more of the real local culture and find previously unknown jewels!

Instead of opting for a crowded and expensive beach resort, we chose to visit a lesser-known coastal town. Not only did we enjoy pristine beaches and uncrowded attractions, but we also saved a significant amount on accommodation and dining.

10) Create Lifelong Memories, Not Material Souvenirs

Finally, encourage your family to focus on creating memories rather than purchasing expensive souvenirs. Take plenty of photos, collect mementos like seashells or pressed flowers, and create scrapbooks or digital albums to relive cherished moments. These memories will be far more valuable than any store-bought trinket.

Instead of buying expensive souvenirs, collect postcards from each city you visit. Back home, frame them and created a beautiful wall collage that serves as a constant reminder of your incredible adventures.

11) Look for Package Deals

Many travel agencies and websites offer package deals that bundle flights, accommodations, and even activities together at a discounted rate. These packages can often provide significant savings compared to booking each component separately.

12) Utilize Discount Websites and Apps

Take advantage of websites and apps that specialize in providing discounts and deals on travel-related expenses. Sites like Groupon, Travelzoo, and Expedia often feature discounted rates for hotels, attractions, and even all-inclusive vacation packages.

13) Consider Staycations

Who says you have to travel far to have a memorable family vacation? Explore your own city or nearby towns and discover local attractions, parks, museums, and events. Double bonus – staying close to home is beneficial for both your wallet and your community!

14) Use Public Transportation

Instead of renting a car or relying on taxis, consider using public transportation options available at your destination. Many cities have affordable and efficient public transit systems that can take you to popular attractions, reducing the need for costly parking fees and car rentals.

15) Join Loyalty Programs

Take advantage of loyalty programs offered by airlines, hotels, and car rental companies. These programs often provide exclusive discounts, free upgrades, and other perks that can significantly reduce your vacation expenses. Accumulating loyalty points can lead to future savings or even free stays and flights.

In the end, it’s the laughter shared, the bonds strengthened, and the memories made that truly define a family vacation. As moms, we hold the power to create extraordinary experiences for our loved ones, regardless of our budget. By incorporating these savvy tips into our travel planning, we can embark on adventures that are not only affordable but also filled with joy, discovery, and cherished moments. So, let’s embrace the art of thrifty travel, unlocking the magic of budget-friendly adventures that will forever hold a special place in our hearts. Here’s to creating unforgettable memories, strengthening family bonds, and cherishing the moments that truly matter. Happy travels, fellow moms!

This post was written by Jen Ambrose at insidermama.com. Be sure to check out her site for other great posts just like this one!

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