Savings Tips for Family Trips

1 Mar

Photo by Kendal Rae

Photo by Kendal Rae

Growing up, we saved money on family vacations by road-tripping it. My mom hates flying and my dad hates people, so it made sense to cram into the truck with a cooler and travel cross-country to our destination. We traveled with an RV, reducing the costs of traditional lodging and dining out all-day-every-day. Our biggest expense was fuel, a necessary evil that is especially diabolical these days, with gas prices rising earlier and faster than normal. In fact, the USAToday reported that gas prices will rise 5 cents per week until early April.

With spring break coming up, families will be hard-pressed to take the whole clan on a much-needed vacation without emptying their emergency savings. Consider the following tips that I recently shared for saving on family trips:

Book Flights Now – Airfare is expected to increase 4.6 percent this year with flight cost increases every two months. Unless your family is incredibly flexible, you likely won’t land (pun intended) a last-minute deal. Book now for the best rate and use Yapta.com for alerts about fare reductions, which you can use when asking for a refund from select airlines.

Save on Accommodations – Hotels with a continental breakfast offer more bang for your buck, since you can stock up on fruit and dried cereals to curb cravings between meals. Additionally, it might be more affordable to rent a house depending on the size of your party; I found a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom quarry house in for rent in Yosemite using HomeAway.com for just $135 per night.

Use Daily Deals for Meals and Attractions – Everyone knows you can score great deals on local dining and attractions using daily deal sites, but you can also get these savings when you travel. Before your trip, peruse daily deals for the city you’re visiting and load up on half-price vouchers for meals and attractions.

Use Your Phone for Fuel Savings – That ghastly statistic about gas rising a nickel every week makes it imperative to find ways to cut the cost of gas. Driving around in an unfamiliar city in search of the best fuel price is both ineffective and counterproductive. Download the GasBuddy app and let your phone navigate you to the best-priced gas station in your area.

Find Free Things to Do – Kids are fairly easy to please but they also have short attention spans, making daily activities a potentially costly endeavor. Be sure to research free things to do at your destination, using resources like MrFreeStuff.com to find the best events for you in over 20 cities across the country.

How do you save on vacations?

4 Responses to “Savings Tips for Family Trips”

  1. The Norwegian Girl March 3, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    I always plan in advance, like 6 months before travelling. This way there are more options to choose among, and both airline tickets and hotel will be cheaper. When I book a hotel, I like to stay central. By living in walking distance to everything I want to explore during the holiday, I save a lot of money, as I don`t have to take taxi fares etc. Also, if the hotel has complimentary breakfast,that`s a big money saver! And by travelling off season, there`s a lot of money to save!

    • Kendal March 6, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

      I’m the same way! Last-minute travel planning is definitely not my speed. I prefer to know that I have everything lined up and reserved a few months before a trip. I just learned about a new hotel-booking site that refunds you whenever your booked rate drops — it’s called Tingo. Have you heard of it? Sounds like a good tool to help you recoup any savings associated with booking “too early.” Your point about booking a centrally located hotel is a good one; I think I should book the cheapest hotel to save money but often times, the property is located away from all the attractions. The money saved is probably offset by the cost of a rental car so finding a better hotel near the center of everything is better! Thanks for commenting!

  2. Holly@ClubThrifty March 16, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    Whenever we take the kids, we try to drive. It’s only about 12 hours to Florida from where we live so we can usually take a pretty inexpensive beach vacation by driving and renting a condo.

    • Kendal March 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      That’s exactly how my parents did it. We drove everywhere and towed our lodging behind us!