Studies have shown that taking a vacation has many health benefits, allowing the body to replenish and repair itself. But getting away from work is not always easy and with the cost of raising a child to the age of 21 in the UK jumping to £230,000, or more, taking a family vacation can be out of budget for families.
As a mum, I see the expenses add up between clothes, food, and medical bills alone! But being the budget savvy mum that I am, I can tell you first hand: it is possible to take a family vacation that does not break the bank and the secret is in the planning.
Choosing a Date and Location
Opt for off-season travel.
One Huffington Post blog went as far to note that 'cruising in the low season' can result in a 20 to 30% savings on the price of the cruise. Traveling to destinations that are popular for their great weather, when the weather is not so great can also result in hefty savings. For example, in June the summer rush of tourists can pick up in Italy while September is a popular time for tourists in Australia, thus prices go up.
Cutting it Short
With most destinations, it's impossible to see and do everything during one trip. Consider the costs of cutting your trip short. Instead of staying for a full week for example, make it four long days; take an early flight in and late flight home to optimise your days while saving on hotel fares.
Spend Less on Flight and Hotel
On the nights you do need a hotel, you can save some big bucks by booking with services like TripSeats or Skyscanner. Those same services also offer cheap flight deals. Hint: play around with the dates. Oftentimes traveling during the week is cheaper than traveling on weekends and if you need help, contact their reps.
Limit Fine Dining
Food costs can really add up when traveling. If you can get access to a grocery store, you can save some big bucks on dining by making some of your own meals and limiting fine dining. My kids can live off cereal and sandwiches.
When we travel, for breakfast we'll do cereal or toast that we purchase from a local grocery store and for lunch well do sandwiches. I typically pack peanut butter and jam sandwiches that I pull out while site-seeing when the kids get hungry. We'll dine out just once a day; it's important to experience the different foods on your travels but when you're traveling on a budget, there are cuts that need to be made.
Seek Out Deals on Entertainment
For many, site seeing in a new city is enough entertainment and the cost of walking around is free. For example, Paris alone has so many free sites to see: The Eiffel Tower, Parc Monceau, and Canal St. Martin.
In New York City there's Time Square, Central Park, and the Empire State Building. There are also apps that offer savings on entertainment like Groupon and Living Social. A few weeks before your trip, plan out the destinations you'd like to see. If there's a particular place that's pricy, contact them and ask them if they have any deals.
This happened to us once when we traveled to Washington DC in the states. There was a museum that we wanted to visit. Full price tickets were $20 each but when we contacted them we found out that Monday through Thursday they offered tickets at buy one get one 50% off. You never know unless you ask!
Only Buy What You Need
Be aware of the souvenirs trap! The kids seem to want to buy so many of them! Before buying a souvenir ask yourself if its something you really love that you can see yourself using years after your vacation. What is the value in the souvenir? Will it be a better memory of your trip than all the great photos you'll be taking? Spend wisely.
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