Planning a trip with your family but need to keep your expenses down? If you’re like many of us, you want the best possible vacation with the least amount of cost. But start adding in flights, dining, and lodging, and you may be staring at your budget and shaking your head. Happily, there are ways to keep your costs down. Here’s how family travel on a budget doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg: five must-do, affordable tips.
As a gal that loves to road trip with her family, I know how easy it is for expenses to add up. Even more, as a gal that is constantly on the road and elated to be there, I’ve learned some super affordable tips on keeping my travel budget down. Here’s what I’ve learned from years of traveling with family.
1. Flexibility is Priority One
When it comes to family travel, the month, week, or even day you visit can make a world of difference. Think about it for a sec – peak travel times are summer, holidays, and long weekends.
If you have the flexibility, choosing to travel by avoiding these times will make a world of difference in your budget. Here’s what I’m talking about:
Using Walt Disney World as an example, not only do the prices on resort rooms lower during off-season, character dining prices drop as well. Then there are crowd levels to take into consideration, too. Traveling during non-peak times will not only save your sanity with lower crowd levels, it will save your pocketbook. WDW likes to encourage visitors during the off-season by incentivizing visits with free dining, discounted tickets, and price cuts on lodging.
This goes for other family travel hot spots, too. Think of summer and beach vacations. If you can head to the beach when the weather is still beautiful, but not during the summer or when kids are out of school, you’ll save plenty.
2. Staying Longer than a Few Days? Consider a Condo
While you won’t have the luxury of having housekeeping visit your room everyday, if you’re planning one a week-long vacation, consider a condominium rental instead. Sure, you’ll have to pick up after yourself, but there are other money-saving perks.
For starters, condos have full kitchens. In my travel experience, it’s dining that costs the most when traveling with family. So, make a pit stop at a grocery store after you’ve checked in and you can do some, most, or all of the cooking. You can also stock up on snacks and drinks while you’re at it.
What about laundry? After days of vacationing with a family, it definitely piles up. Look for a condo with a washer and dryer. Then you can do laundry whenever you like without paying for each load.
If you’re planning a stay of two weeks or more, look into renting an apartment. Check for ones without leases and in good locations before you commit.
The More You Know About Spending
Our friends at Allianz Global Assistance love data. They especially love family travel data. And it turns out that data can help us plan our family travel wisely.
So, here’s the story regarding vacation spending. One in 10 Americans admit to going over budget on their vacations in 2017. And those that did go over budget, went over budget by $534. Yeah, that’s quite a but, don’t you think? And, I have to point a finger at myself (Hello, Gen X’r!); my group is the group to go WAY over budget. $836 worth of over budget.
3. Start Looking for Flights Well in Advance
Unless it’s a last-minute trip, as soon as you lock down dates, start locking down flights. Last-minute flights have inflated pricing, true fact.
There are things to consider when booking family travel flights that will help you save money. First, if you have compiled points as a rewards bonus, use some or all of them to book your flights.
There are also flash deals to consider. What’s a flash deal? In a nutshell, it’s when airlines have a 24- or 48-hour sale. Flight prices are drastically discounted, but you’ll have to act fast. Another point to consider is that flight times may not be ideal. If you’re willing to fly during off-peak times, you’ll save money.
Something else to consider when booking flights: almost all airlines offer free flights to children under two years old.
4. Freebies = Money In Your Pocket
I have to use one of my fave spots as an example again because it can come as a huge surprise that there are plenty of freebies at Walt Disney World. Free cups of ice water, free stickers, free balloons – you name it. First-time folks planning a trip to WDW may not know about all of the freebies and think that it’s a super-expensive spot to vacation. That doesn’t have to be the case.
Do your research. Look online. Call resorts and ask. You don’t have to spend a ton of cash to have a successful vacation. Research free museums and walking tours. Check to see if attractions are offering free visitor days. Top of my list? Look for free transportation. Many cities offer low cost or free public transportation. I know in my big city of Pittsburgh, anywhere in the Golden Triangle area is a free subway ride.
5. Larger Family? Look for Group Rates
Have a large family and thinking of avoiding pay attractions? You may not have to, after all. When counting costs, look for group rates. If you have a traveling party over, say, eight or 10, you may be eligible for a group discount rate. Don’t see one online? Call the attraction and ask.
This post is sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) and I have received financial compensation.