With summer just around the corner it’s time to start planning a family getaway.
Here are seven tips that will help you have a memorable vacation without breaking the bank.
No. 1: Choose Your Destination Wisely
If you are watching your pennies closely, consider opting for a trip to a national park, or any non-coastal area. It is cheaper to visit winter tourist hot spots during the summer, experts agreed.
“Places on the coast will always cost more in the summer,” said Jennifer Miner, an editor for thevacationgals.com.
No. 2: Fly During the Week
If you're looking to purchase plane tickets, be sure to play around with the dates. Flying on a Monday or Tuesday is cheaper than weekend travel. There is also the added perk of a less crowded airport.
No. 3: Skip the Hotel
Hotel lodging can be pretty pricey, especially with a large family, but it isn’t the only option. Consider renting an apartment, house or even swapping houses.
“Home trades sound suspicious, but there are a lot of safe sites out there that are good and connecting people and vetting who they allow to participate,” said Miner.
Kevin Meehan, president of Summit Wealth Advisors, points out that many people are struggling to sell their second homes and are more than happy to rent them in the meantime. “Renting an apartment or condo is a great way to save money on lodging.”
If you do choose to stay in a hotel, Meehan advises not to accept the first rate offered. “Hotels don’t have the occupancy they used to; try and negotiate for a lower rate, or have them throw in free breakfast or parking.”
No. 4: Stay in a Place With a Kitchen
Dining out tends to be the biggest part of a family's vacation budget, said Michelle Jones, founder and editor of BetterBudgeting.com. “It’s a huge money saver to hit the local grocery store to pick up meals so you aren’t eating out as much.”
Another advantage to renting an apartment or condo is you can cook your own meals, so if you are staying a hotel look for one with a kitchenette.
“Kids won’t mind if you pour them a bowl of Cheerios in the morning, and make PB&J sandwiches for lunch -- and it saves you a ton of money,” said Miner.
No. 5: Pack Smart
Airlines seem to be tacking on extra fees for just about anything these days, so be sure to only pack the necessities.
If you plan to check luggage (which many companies charge for now), keep it below 50 pounds, as some charge extra for heavy luggage.
Take an empty water bottle with you to the airport and fill it up once you get through security to avoid the sky-high food prices in airports.
No. 6: Consider Second-Tier Entertainment
Venues in tourist hot spots tend to increase prices during peak summer travel months.
“If you want to go to a baseball game, check out the minor league teams, or instead of going to Broadway or a professional theater for a show, check out a community theater or a university’s production,” said Meehan.
No. 7: Be Smart About Souvenirs
Set a budget with your kids at the beginning of the trip on how much they can spend on souvenirs and they will be more selective with what they want.
“Stay away from buying souvenirs at airports and resort areas, they will always be more expensive,” said Miner.
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