Is there anything better than taking a vacation? A chance to take a break from the hustle and bustle of work, school, and life and connect with your family and friends. But if you’re trying to stick to a budget this summer, you may think that a vacation is out of financial reach. However, there are plenty of ways to take a vacation without blowing your budget. You don’t have to go into debt to take a summer vacation. It just takes a little creativity and flexibility.
The first step to planning a budget-friendly family vacation is to figure out your actual budget. How much can you realistically afford and how much do you have saved up? Commit to staying within your budget for the entire experience. Make it easy on your family and your wallet by using these ideas to keep it budget-friendly.
You don’t have to take a stay-cation but there are probably lots of awesome things to see and do within 100-250 miles of your home. You might be surprised at the treasures that are within a day’s drive so you can avoid airline expenses.
Find a less-explored area of your state or a fun local attraction. What attractions do people come to see when they visit your state? Check out historical landmarks and natural attractions, national monuments, and parks as well. Visit your local visitor’s bureau or historical society websites for plenty of ideas for fantastic things to do in your area.
If you do choose to fly to your destination, be flexible on dates and times of flights because summer is considered “high season” and tends to be pricier. There are some exceptions to this rule. Summer is low season for U.S. mountain towns, the Caribbean, parts of Mexico, Costa Rica, and many places in the Southern Hemisphere like Australia and New Zealand.
Selecting off-peak flights will also help to trim costs. Travel experts generally agree that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the two best days of the week to fly if you want to save some cash.
Friends and Family
When you visit friends or family, lodging is often free and most people are really excited to show off their town and give you the inside scoop on local happenings and fun.
Visiting friends and family is also affordable because you avoid rental cars and you can save on meals by buying groceries and eating with your hosts. When visiting friends and family, always try to be a gracious guest by keeping your stay short, cleaning up after yourself, and planning some time to explore on your own so your host can get some downtime.
Camping is an awesome family vacation, provided it’s not done in the dead of summer, in the south. Find a location with cooler summer temps so you can enjoy the experience. Of course, camping isn’t for everyone, but renting a pop-up trailer and paying for a cheap campsite can still save you money over a hotel.
You also don’t have to commit to a full camping experience. Many campgrounds offer nice, clean bathrooms and camp showers, plus, you can keep meal prep simple with sandwiches and cold items to eat. Camping is about disconnecting with the electronics and connecting with your people.
Most of us don’t spend a lot of time in our hotel room so make sure you are choosing activities over your hotel accommodations. Of course, you want to find accommodations that are clean and safe but it doesn’t have to be a five-star hotel either. Fancy suites can be great but there’s really no reason to splurge on accommodations. See kitchenette tip below.
Even if you are traveling, that doesn’t mean you have to eat out three times a day. Look for lodging options that offer free breakfast or hotels with a kitchenette so you can prepare your own breakfast and lunch. Buying groceries so you can pack sandwiches and prepare simple meals, can help you drastically trim your dining out expenses. Food on the road costs a lot, plus there are tips to consider.
Avoid the Hotspots
If it’s a popular destination or activity, it will naturally be more expensive. Think about enjoying activities that are a little off the beaten path. Also think about enjoying nature such as local parks, the beach, and hiking. These are all beautiful places to explore, but they cost much less than a popular city activity or theme park.
Wherever your travels take you this summer, remember that you don’t have to spend a lot to make great memories. So grab your sandals and your bathing suit and get going on your summer vacation!