7 Ways to Save Money While Traveling

Congrats! After careful planning and budgeting, requesting your PTO and organizing your family’s calendars, you’re finally ready to set sail on a new adventure. Family vacations are excursions everyone in your household looks forward to, but for financially-conscious parents, they can sometimes be overwhelming.

The good news is there are many ways to thoroughly enjoy every moment of your vacation without going over budget. From being strategic about your credit card purchases to registering for rebate offers sending dollars back into your pocket, consider these effortless ways to get the most bang for your buck. Let the countdown to vacation begin!

Choose an Off-Season Destination. Instead of following the snow bunnies to Colorado in January or taking the kids to Disney World for spring break, choose a destination during the off-season for potential huge savings. Not only can you find better deals for flights and hotels, you'll also be able to take in the scenery without the crowds. Regardless of what time of year works best for your schedule, a travel agent can help you pinpoint a spot on the map that inexpensive.

Be Creative With Meals. Before you click ‘book,’—consider upgrading to a suite that features a full kitchen. Eating out for every meal can definitely add up over a long weekend or a 7-night stay, and having access to a stove (or even a microwave!) can cut down on the cost of fueling your family. Find a local grocery store and stock up on breakfast essentials, snacks, waters, coffee and other necessities to pack for your adventures. Also look into what your hotel offers, you may find yourself at a hotel with a continental breakfast or free happy hour.

Are you road tripping to your vacation destination? Make a pit stop to a wholesaler and buy in bulk before hitting the road. If you’re looking for other cash-saving meal options, consider bringing reusable bottles if the tap water is drinkable at your vacation spot or investing in an all-inclusive to take the guesswork out of meals. Be adventurous and think outside of the realm of traditional restaurants for your family by nibbling at food trucks, street vendors or diners.

Have One Staycation Day. As much fun as it is to see national monuments, worldwide treasures, wonders of the globe and beat your daily step count, vacationing is about relaxing, too. Have your zen moment with your family by planning a ‘staycation’ day where you lounge around your hotel, vacation rental or suite. Enjoy movies, cooking or practicing cannonballs in the pool! Because you aren’t shelling out dough for tickets to attractions, you’ll give your bank account—and your body and mind—the R&R it deserves.

Research Rebates. Have any recurring purchases you make every single month? Think about household items, snacks the kids simply can’t get enough of and beauty products you swear by. Believe it or not, restocking on these necessities by ordering online can earn you cash! There are plenty of coupon or rebate options, depending on what you’re buying. If you have a go-to airline, check to see if they offer similar ‘thank you’ points that translate into dollars over time.

Collect Photos, Not Things. Want to have a keepsake from your family vacation? Instead of buying t-shirts, magnets, stickers and other souvenirs, one way to save money is to exercise your iPhone. Because it can cost as little as five cents to print a photo once you’re back home, it’s more cost-effective to take a selfie than roam a gift shop. And if you’re visiting a kid-centric destination like Disney World where your mini princess or jedi will definitely want a costume, purchase a cheaper version online so you won’t be tempted to buy an expensive one on site.

Skip a Checked Bag. ...or just check one! While some airlines do offer one checked bag per passenger for free, others charge upwards of $25, which for a family of four, can add up fast as you soar through the skies. Since your children’s clothes are smaller than your own, use packing cubes to fit as much as you can into a single checked bag. Or if you’re up for the challenge, try fitting all of your essentials into four carry-on suitcases that won’t cost you a penny to bring onboard.

Choose Destination and Appropriate Transportation. Many international and domestic cities offer family-friendly metro systems that feature elevators and escalators to make sightseeing with a stroller or a toddler seamless. Because bus or metro tickets can be far less expensive than a cab, this could make a big difference when you’re hopping between cities in Europe or getting the most out of your adventure in the Big Apple. Going out west or staying in a single country? It could also be more cost-effective to rent a car than to buy multiple plane or train tickets, if your whole gang can fit in sedan or an SUV. Booking far in advance is recommended for the most savings, too!

The bottom line? An amazing vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. With a just little strategic planning, you can take your loved ones on an unforgettable trip and even save a few dollars to start padding the budget for your next adventure