Updated February 5, 2020 . AmFam Team
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, consider these simple ways to save money on your next vacation.
There are some great ways to prepare your finances and plan a budget before you even start packing for your next vacation. Here are a few pre-vacation tips for saving as much money as possible.
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.
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 multiple cab trips, 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!
Before you book your trip, consider upgrading to a suite that features a full kitchen. Eating out for every meal can add up over a long weekend or a 7-night stay, and having access to a stove or microwave can cut down on the cost of fueling your family. Find a local grocery store and stock up on breakfast essentials, snacks, water, coffee and other necessities. Also look into what your hotel offers — choose a hotel with continental breakfast or free happy hour.
Are you road-tripping to your vacation destination? Make a pit stop at 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.
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.
So you’ve prepared your budget and are ready to hit the road. But how else can you save money while you’re on the vacation itself? Here are a few more tips to help you keep your cash in your wallet while on your trip.
While some airlines do offer one checked bag per passenger for free, others charge upwards of $25. For a family of four, that can add up fast. Try fitting all of your essentials into four carry-on suitcases that won’t cost you a penny to bring on board.
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 little princess or Jedi will definitely want a costume, purchase a cheaper version online so you won’t be tempted to buy an expensive one at the park.
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. Chill out 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.
The bottom line? An amazing vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. With a 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.
Before you head out on vacation, don’t forget travel insurance! Connect with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to learn more about how travel insurance can help protect what matters most while you’re on vacation.
This article is for informational purposes only and based on information that is widely available. This information does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. You should contact a professional for advice specific to your situation.