Subscribe in a reader

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top 5 Thrifty Family Travel Tips

This week's blog post is centered around family vacation travel!  We are taking our 3 children on a short trip soon for spring break, and I thought it might be helpful to post a list of things I have done for years to ensure we don't go outside of our budget during trips.  It is very possible to take a family vacation, without spending much money at all!

Here are my top 5 tips:

1.) Book a place that has a full kitchen.

This is the most important tip for thrifty travel.  When we get to our destination, we unload the vehicles and then I take my pre-made grocery list (fun to do on the long drive) and we go to the local grocery store.  We always figure out how many days the budget will allow us to go out to eat, and meal plan for the rest.  For a 7-day trip, we usually plan for 2 dinners out and 2 lunches out throughout the week, and maybe 1 breakfast out on the last day.  For the rest of the trip, we do fun dinners: make-your-own french bread pizzas, lots of barbecuing, fun fajita night.  For lunches, we usually do picnics of sandwiches or meat, cheese, and fruit trays.  I always cook breakfast or we do cereal.  I know that people say they don't want to cook while on vacation, but it is THE number one way to save money.  If you do the types of meals I lined out above, most of it is just simple things, anyway!  Also, doing this makes the times we go out to eat super-special.  We spend lots of time, carefully selecting where we will go, and enjoy it so much.

2.)  Prepare car snacks.

Do not get caught in the trap of getting a snack at a high-priced convenience store every time you travel.  Make each child a box of snacks and bring reusable cups with lids for drinks.  We usually place a small cooler in the back with cold drinks and fruit, as well.  It's fun to get a treat every once in a while at a store, but getting snacks and drinks at every drive can really add up.

3.)  Book a cottage or room that has a pool, child entertainment, or swimming area within walking distance.

This doesn't need a lot of explanation.  It will save you tons of money on entertainment, and the kids love it!

4.)  Scout out low-cost or free attractions.

Yes, it is more work to map out your trip ahead of time, instead of just selecting a few amusement parks, spending the money and taking the kids there, but this will save you lots of money.  When we go somewhere, I always have a list of 5 or 6 things we could do that will be little to no cost.  I don't plan out our week as far as the days we are doing things, but I like to have a pool of things to choose from ahead of time, so that I'm not tempted to just go to the easy (costly) place.  Check out state parks--so many beautiful memories have been made at some of the prettiest parks around for us, at $3 per person!  Take a picnic lunch or something to grill and make a day of it.  Local lakes are often extremely low-cost as well; one we love costs us $5 per car.  Beaches, children's parks, fishing areas, outdoor theaters, are all good bets for low-cost fun.  Some areas also have inexpensive mini-golf places that can be a lot of fun.  I like to check out Trip Advisor to get a feel for those types of places.  Research ahead of time, to save a lot of money!

5.)  Don't underestimate the joy of doing nothing for a day.

I know, you've come all this way, and you just want to be out doing things. But, some of our best days, are days that we just hang around our cottage.  Sleeping in as late as the kids will let us, making coffee, drinking it out on the porch, making brunch together, taking the kids to the cottage's pool or water hole, heading back to the cabin to eat sandwiches, taking a nap, playing board games, renting a movie, making popcorn and milkshakes, roasting marshmallows outside and grilling hot dogs--these are the types of days that we live for.  Just simple, slow living.  It costs very little, and is a wonderful break from the rush to do something.  Try it!

And a couple of pictures from really inexpensive, but joyful past vacations:

No comments:

Post a Comment