You can save big on your next vacation by employing one or more of five money saving strategies.
1. Bring your food with you. Who wants to cook while on vacation? After all, vacations should be relaxing and provide all the R&R that moms and dads deserve.
Still, eating out three meals per day will sorely strain your budget. It may also expose your family to unhealthy eating habits especially if the menu is sugar buns and overly sweetened cereal.
Plan to have at least one meal at your vacation home, if possible. Start off with a simple breakfast and buy your main meal at lunch. Have sandwiches in your vacation home at night, homemade delights that won’t stretch your wallet or wear out the food preparer. By the way, lunch and dinner menus are usually the same at better restaurants, but pricing is at least 20 percent lower during the middle of the day.
2. Avoid the priciest attractions. If you are visiting Florida, will you be at Disney World, Legoland or Universal Studios the entire week that you are away? Chances are that you will not, perhaps finding yourself enjoying a day or two away from the big and pricey theme parks.
Theme park visits can be fantastic, but they’re also costly. You can save money by choosing a two- or three-day pass and reserving the remaining time for visits to the beach, making use of the hotel pool and taking in some local shopping.
3. Vacation off peak. Perhaps it isn’t possible for your family to vacation outside the Memorial Day to Labor Day season. That’s understandable if you have school-aged children or summer is the only month you can see your extended family.
For everyone else, winter vacations offer excellent savings especially in warmer climates and outside of the holiday season traffic. A late January to early March vacation in south Florida, the Bahamas or Baja California can give you what you get in the summer for as much as 50 percent less. You’ll avoid the big crowds and find bargains on retail shop items.
4. Look for coupons. You clip coupons at home, so why not on the road? They’re easy to find and, if your visit has you staying at hotel, you’ll find stacks of discounts posted. You can also ask the front desk for tips on where the buys are and head out accordingly.
One of the reason why coupons are offered during the summer months is that arcades, movie theaters, play parks and other attractions have to compete with each other. Crowds may be decent, but no money is made unless you’re willing to move the turnstile. Coupon incentives are designed to get you to join in and may result in buy one get one free specials or 50 percent off discounts.
5. Provide your children with spending cash. “Mommy I want it. I want iiiiittttt!” Children acquire big eyes when on vacation, pulled by the novelty of a new place with so many unusual and interesting delights. You may find yourself bleeding through cash if you answer every whim, something no parent should do. Then again, since you are on vacation, what better time to teach children the value of money?
Months before you leave on vacation, tell your children that you plan to give them spending money. But, with a catch: they must save money for their vacation too. Consider matching every dollar saved up to a certain amount, perhaps $20 or even $50. The money they save along with your cash match will be all that they get. Your kids will then carefully consider each purchase, understanding that when the money has been spent it is gone for good.
You can also save money on vacation by traveling with another family and sharing your costs. Rent a two-family house at the shore, a pair of cabins at the lake or separate hotel rooms anywhere. Trade off kid sitting to give each couple the chance to enjoy date night without the children.