Summer is just around the corner, and that means one thing – summer vacation season. Summer vacation is a rite of passage for many families and creates memories for years.
There’s one small problem: summer vacations can be expensive. A family of four spends anywhere from just over $1,100 to nearly $4,600 on vacations each year. While a broad range, one thing is simple – it’s easy to overspend on summer vacation if you’re not careful. If you want to go on summer vacation this year, keep the following five tips in mind to cut down on the cost but not the fun.
Simple, but effective, planning ahead for your summer vacation is a key way to save money. Planning ahead allows you to be more selective on your destination plus helps you determine what you can expect to spend, not to mention find a good way to cut down on the cost.
“The more time you allow for vacation planning, the easier it will be to find deals on various travel needs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find last-minute savings if you wait to plan a trip with your family,” says Consumer and Money-Saving Expert Andrea Woroch.
If your summer plans don’t allow for time to plan ahead, try to be flexible to find budget vacation options. Woroch recommends the HotelTonight app to find deep discounts on luxury hotels for last-minute needs as one example of how you can save money on a last-minute trip without busting your budget.
Go Off the Beaten Path
Disney, Hawaii and other costly spots are popular destinations for many vacationers during the summer. They are great places to visit, but they come with a premium price tag that make them cost prohibitive to many.
If a pricey destination is not in your budget, consider more frugal options like state or national parks, or camping. Many parks require a pass to enter, but there are discount options available through the National Park Service. Many parks have programs for younger children that are free and are a great way to experience nature while learning a little about our history.
If your visit to a park brings you near a larger city, Woroch offers another money-saving opportunity, “…skip the pricey guided tours and take a self-guided walking tour for free. Print city guides from resources like citywalkingguide.com or download a walking tour guide on your mobile device.”
Ditch the Hotel
Staying in a hotel is a fun way to enjoy vacation, especially if you have younger kids and the hotel has a pool. The downside is hotels are often expensive and don’t feel terribly like home.
A great alternative to the costly hotel is renting a house through VRBO or Airbnb. Renting a house is typically cheaper than a hotel – especially if you have a larger family and need two hotel rooms. House rental also allows you to lower food cost by giving you the option to prepare meals and spread out more than in a small hotel room.
If a hotel stay is inevitable, pick a hotel that offers breakfast and in-room refrigerators so you can store lunch meat and fruits to keep down food costs.
Watch the Souvenir Spending
Buying a souvenir is a fun way to bring something home to remember the trip. The unfortunate side effect is this can quickly add up in cost. Consider ways to lower your souvenir spending, such as:
- Only picking one as a family
- Give each person a budget
- Encourage saving beforehand, so there are funds available to buy a souvenir to bring home
Remember, creating memories can be as cheap as taking some pictures – not a busted budget thanks to something that may not last or lose favor in a week or two.
Take A Staycation
Going on vacation ultimately comes down to taking a break and spending time with those you love. In that sense, a staycation is a great way to have down time this summer if you have a limited schedule or budget. Keep in mind, however, for this to work you must avoid work so it’s important to remove things that might tempt you to work.
A staycation can be a great way to experience something you’ve always wanted to do around your city but have never allowed yourself time to do. Allow each person in the family to pick one thing and plan out several days filled with each item.
Consider things like a movie marathon or game night at home, going to a new restaurant for lunch or visiting a local museum to enjoy your vacating. If you’re wise with your budget, you may even have enough leftover for a last-minute weekend vacation at the end of the summer.
Going on summer vacation can be a great time to recharge and create lasting memories. With a little work, you can have the vacation of a lifetime without a hefty price tag.