If you travel with children, you may have noticed that planning affordable family holidays has become increasingly difficult and more expensive.
The rate increases for vacations during school breaks are well recognized, but there is also a continuously rising trend in the expenses of meals, lodging, rental car insurance, and admission to attractions, all of which add up when traveling as a family.
Comparing all the vacation destination options in the early stages of preparation may be daunting, especially when you are trying to plan a cheap vacation.
Though traveling with a large family can be expensive, there are ways you can cut the costs by doing things such as comparing transportation and lodging options and taking advantage of coupons and discounts.
Set Your Budget Beforehand
To better plan your vacation, you need to create a budget before you look at destinations and travel options. It’s one of the most important things you should do before you travel.
When it comes to budgeting, you’ll need to decide how much you’re willing to spend and on what early on in the process. After you’ve agreed on a budget, you’ll be able to choose your lodging, activities, and other items that are essential to you and your family.
In your budget, you need to include accommodation, transportation, food, and entertainment — plus extra cash for emergencies and other unexpected expenses.
While arranging your vacation budget, you may want to include a night or two of eating and exploring outside the resort if you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort. If you’re not staying at a resort, consider a hotel, a villa, or a bed and breakfast with a kitchen. Cooking some of your meals on vacation can help you save money on gas and food.
Once you’ve worked out your ideal budget, you can start saving for your trip. The more money you put into your savings account and the longer you save before you travel, the more activities you’ll be able to do and the more fun you can have.
You need to be honest with yourself about how much money you can save every week or month. You can either save on your own or set up a family vacation savings account.
Start Planning Your Vacation Early
During the school holidays, finding discounts for ideal family vacations spots is rare. The few discounts and bargain options that do emerge are generally for unappealing locations that wouldn’t be fun for the family.
If your children attend school, you will be aware of their semester dates well in advance. You should use this knowledge to book your family vacation months in advance while costs are still fairly low because of a lack of demand.
If your children are not yet in school or you teach them at home, try to go outside of peak travel times when prices are lower and crowds are smaller.
Once you have an ideal vacation time frame, you should start looking for resorts, rental cars, and airlines on certain days during the week. Generally speaking, Tuesdays or Wednesdays during rush hour (around 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.) are when airlines and other booking sites put up cheaper flight, rental, and hotel rates.
Rates tend to drop during this timeframe because many people are busy during that period. They are either driving home from work or finishing up their workday, so they are not online booking trips. To encourage people to spend money during those dead times, booking sites offer lower rates.
This isn’t always the case when looking for flights around holidays, but the point is that pricing and availability fluctuate throughout the week. To get the greatest booking discounts, check airfares, lodging, and rental cars at different times during a week before deciding on a booking choice.
Pick the Right Time to Vacation
Aside from looking and booking vacation destinations well in advance and on the right day of the week, you should be cognitive on the best days to go on a trip. Mid-week flights tend to be the most inexpensive time to fly.
If you have any wiggle room in your schedule, check what adjusting the date can do for your bottom line. Even altering the day of the week you fly can help you save money. You should aim to fly mid-week rather than on Friday or Saturday for lower prices.
During the holidays, though, flying on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Day is your best bet. You should also consider taking advantage of off-peak pricing.
For instance, you can save hundreds of dollars visiting a ski resort in the summertime. A ski resort will normally have more tourists during the winter, so you can beat the crowd and save money by visiting during the time they are least busy.
When there are fewer people, certain holiday spots can be even more attractive, peaceful, and definitely less expensive.
Search for Discounted Accommodations and Transportation
Those looking for a more exciting vacation can find a variety of comfortable, low-cost travel options. Large families may want to explore renting a vacation house, which may accommodate large parties at a reduced rate, particularly for extended visits.
For a list of rental lodgings all around the world, go to sites like Airbnb. There are a number of homeowners that offer properties available for short-term rental.
For more adventurous families who don’t require a lot of amenities, you can find some really pleasant hostels. A hostel is a type of low-cost inn that provides basic, communal lodging.
It is basically just a place to stay with other people. Instead of living in a private room with your own bathroom, you’ll be sharing a dorm room with other students. The same may be said about the bathroom. It is a location where budget-conscious travelers may sleep and share space.
Finally, look for family vacation packages on discount sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, which may save you a lot of money if you have some scheduling flexibility.
Find Cheap Rental Car Insurance
There are three options for getting coverage for the automobile you’re renting while you’re away from home. These options include using your home car’s insurance, rental coverage plans offered by various rental firms, or coverage through a third-party rental provider.
A collision damage waiver (CDW) or loss damage waiver (LDW) is a type of rental coverage offered by rental car businesses. They can cost around $30 a day and sometimes higher.
When you add the CDW to your rental agreement, you are effectively excused from responsibility for any damage to the rental automobile. Although some firms have variances in their rental agreements, you should read your rental contract carefully.
Rental car insurance from your personal insurance company entails speaking with a representative or reviewing your policy to determine if your coverage extends to rental automobiles.
If it is, your rental automobile will, in most circumstances, be protected in the same manner that your personal vehicle is. To save even more money, you can simply use your own car as much as possible on your trip.
Ask Your Credit Card Company About Insurance
Depending on your credit card perks, you may also be covered for a collision if you book your rental car on your credit card. Physical damage, theft, loss-of-use fines, and towing expenses are all covered.
When it comes to rental car insurance, this is a no-cost option. It does not, however, necessarily cover diminished value or the fee accessed when filing a claim and other administrative actions.
Most credit card perks are used as backup coverage. Premium credit cards may allow you to use their coverage as the primary protection, making them entirely liable for the rental, depending on the type of card and business you have.
Have Realistic Expectations While Planning Your Trip
Usually, simply cutting some additional costs will help you save money on your trip. Stay at a hotel that provides a big complimentary breakfast to save money on one meal every day.
Alternatively, look for hotels or resorts where children eat or stay for free, or book a room with a kitchen and prepare a couple of your own meals to save even more money on meals.
Children are often easy to please, and most will welcome any trip, large or small, that you take them on. Traveling on a shoestring with kids may need more organization and patience, but it is absolutely possible, and the collaborative challenge will benefit the entire family.