Planning a big family trip can be exciting, but it can also be stressful when you’ve got to stick to a budget. With airfare, accommodation, food and activities costs can quickly spiral. However, with some savvy planning and research, you can make that dream vacation a reality without breaking the bank. Here are eight smart budget tips for your next big family adventure.
Research Prices Thoroughly
My first tip is to spend time researching prices for flights, hotels, property rentals. Prices can vary wildly, so check multiple sites like Expedia and Priceline as well as direct booking sites. Consider flying on less popular days/times when rates are lower. Use travel deal sites and sign up for price drop alerts. The more effort you put in upfront, the more you’ll save.
Look for Discount Codes and Coupons
There are tons of ways to save on travel using promo codes and coupons. Check deal sites for hotel, rental car and attraction discount codes you can use at checkout—these help you save real money when shopping online. Airline and airport parking sites also often provide promo codes for first-time users.
Travel During Off-Peak Times
Aim to visit your destination during their off-peak tourist season when prices are cheaper and attractions less crowded. Paris in the summer is packed with tourists paying peak rates, but visit in the spring or autumn and you’ll find fewer crowds as well as lower costs on airfare and hotels. The same logic works for avoiding school holiday times when families pay premium rates.
Book Accommodation with a Kitchen
One of the biggest travel costs is dining out. By booking a hotel suite, self catering apartment/home or campervan with a kitchen, you can prepare some or most of your own meals. Shop at local supermarkets for budget-friendly food. Not only will you save a bundle but having a kitchen also allows families to stick to dietary restrictions and appease fussy eaters.
Use Public Transport
Renting a vehicle for a big family can become very expensive. Making use of public transport like trains, buses, ferries and metro systems whenever possible can not only save you a fortune, but can also give a real taste of a place. Children especially enjoy the excitement of travelling on modes of transport such as subways, and cable cars. Beyond saving on hire fees, taking public travel solves the problem of parking costs and rental car insurance. Bonus tip: look for discounted multi-day public transport passes to maximise deals.
Skip the Souvenirs
Theme parks, museums and tourist destinations all make it their mission to tempt families to overspend on souvenirs. Make a pact ahead of time to avoid these pricey mementos and instead have your children use their phone to take pictures capturing memories. If you must purchase keepsakes, set a firm budget and consider homemade gifts like scrapbooks or photo books after your trip.
Research Free Activities
Just about any destination offers free things to do from parks to walking tours to museums with certain free days. Do your homework ahead of time so you can take advantage of these freebies to offset other costs. As you explore lesser-known free sites, you’ll also get to enjoy more authentic local experiences.
Use Rewards Points
If you’ve been stockpiling credit card rewards points and airline or hotel loyalty programme miles, put them towards your family travels! Use points for flights, hotel rooms, rental cars, activity discounts and more. Paying with rewards instead of cash counts double as savings. Just be sure to compare redemption rates across programs first to maximise value.
A family trip without some kind of budget is a recipe for overspending. But armed with these eight budget-friendly travel tips, you can plan an affordable and memorable vacation the whole family will cherish.