I’ll be the first to admit that I LOVE vacations, but I’m also the biggest stickler about not breaking the bank! So how do I reconcile the two? We vacation on a budget! My family always vacationed on a budget, and it’s something that Caleb and I have taken on, as well. And believe me, even on a budget, we still have FANTASTIC vacations! If you’re needing some tips on how to vacation without going broke, scroll on down to see how to plan an AWESOME family vacation: on a budget!
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Stay Away From Tourist Towns
I know they’re fun and they have cute shops and great restaurants and everybody is going there, but stay away! Not only will you pay more for activities, but you’ll also be charged more for lodging and food due to simple supply and demand. Either search out other places in the area and drive to the tourist town for a day trip, or find an “undiscovered” spot to vacation at instead. Frequently, those are the ones you’ll want to return to. 🙂
I am not spontaneous in the least, but this serves us well on vacations! Many of your lodging options (hotels, cabins, etc.) offer better rates if they’re booked in advance. Also, when looking at activities, make a tentative schedule for what you want to do (hike, eat out, etc.). That way, you can go ahead and allocate an amount of money that’s close to what you’ll need.
Related Post: 3 Easy Ways To Stay Healthy On Vacation
Vacation During Off-Peak Times
If this is possible for you, DO IT! You won’t regret it! We honeymooned at the end of March and just vacationed in the middle of January. Not only is lodging cheaper during off-peak times, but there are also fewer people! Be sure to do some research about off-peak times for your desired locations, as this will vary for different locations; for instance, mountain towns are best during April, May, September, and October!
Dave Ramsey It (Pay Cash)
For our regular budget, we use a digital envelope system, but for vacations, we use the tried and true Dave Ramsey system: an envelope of cash. We know that’s all the money we have to spend on vacation, so we pay attention to how much we have and adjust our activities and eating out accordingly. We do usually have to put our lodging on our debit card, but other than that, use cash! You can’t overspend if there’s no more money in the envelope!
Yep, that’s right: bring your own SNACKS! Whether you’re at a water park, hiking in the mountains, or strolling through a big city, pack granola bars (these are my favorite), fruit, chips, or anything else that you like to munch on. That way, when hunger strikes, you’re not paying $4 for a candy bar at the closest convenience store. Trust me, this is a big money saver, especially if you have kids! (pro tip: Make sure to pack extra water, too!)Don't let a tight budget stop you from taking a family vacation! Check out these tips! Click To Tweet
Research Alternative Lodging Options
Borrowing a friend’s RV or camping are two great ways to save money on a vacation! However, if that doesn’t appeal to you or if it’s just not possible, look at the different lodging options for your destination. Many places have hotels at a decent price, but you can also check sites like VRBO or AirBNB. These sites list properties rented out by owners, so you’ll find some amazing houses and cabins at very reasonable prices!
Save Your Change
I learned this technique from my parents. Whenever they paid cash for anything, they would come home and put the change in our coin bank (this is a cute one). Then, before vacation, we’d roll it all and take it to the bank, and that was our vacation money! Of course, that’s usually not going to cover the WHOLE vacation, but it’ll usually add up to a couple hundred dollars, which can help out a lot with meals and activities! 🙂
Pick A Splurge
A lot of people go over budget on vacation because there are so many fun things to do that they just can’t choose. They end up going rafting, eating at the five-star restaurant, AND riding the ski lift. Vacation should be fun, and it’s totally okay to splurge, but pick just ONE thing! If it’s food, then go all out! If it’s an activity, then make sure you have the time of your life! By picking only one splurge, you’ll ensure that you enjoy it and don’t end up with buyer’s regret.
Talk To Locals
Believe me, they know what they’re talking about! Locals know the place better than anyone, and they’re going to be able to fill you on the best free and cheap activities. Chances are there are also community groups that host free family activities like photo scavenger hunts or nature hikes, and locals will know how to get you all the info on those!It's easy to plan an AWESOME family vacation and stay on budget! Click To Tweet
Now it’s your turn. How do you plan an awesome family vacation: on a budget? What are your best tips for saving money on vacation?