We love taking vacations, but it doesn’t take long for all of those expenses to add up. We generally treat our vacations as giant field trips, incorporating as many learning opportunities as possible. That makes vacations a homeschool expense, right? Right!
To make the most of your vacation budget there are a few things you can do to save a little here and there. After all, every penny you pinch will add up to dollars you save!
10 Tips for Saving Money on Vacation
Choose the accommodations carefully
Be sure to check the hotel amenities before making your reservation. Many hotels offer a free breakfast, happy hour snack supper, in-room refrigerator (or even better, a kitchenette). Just that free breakfast will likely save a family of 4 up to $20 a day. If you have a kitchenette or small refrigerator, you can save a lot of money by bringing along milk, juice, sandwich fixings, cheese, yogurt, fruit and cut-up veggies. Even if you choose to only eat breakfast and lunch from your hotel room, you’ll save a ton of money! Just don’t go crazy with dinner and eat up your savings.
Find local deals
Once you’ve chosen your destination city, sign-up for Groupon and Living Social deals for the area. You may just find some great deals on museums and other attractions! If you have museum memberships at home, be sure to check for reciprocal museums near or on the way to your destination. We have visited many science and history museums completely free because of museum reciprocity.
Drive, don’t fly
Even if you have to stop over to sleep at a hotel on the way, you’ll still save money driving over flying. And driving will afford you other opportunities that flying will not. We make the driving a part of the vacation by mapping out fun places to stop and visit along the way! Be sure to pack a cooler with snacks, sandwiches and drinks, so you’re not tempted to drive-through when you get hungry.
Visit State and National Parks
Generally the cost is per car, not per person and is very reasonable. Some of our most favorite vacations have included stops at State and National Parks. Most parks have historical significance to the area, as well as nature and science explorations in the form of eco-systems, flora and fauna. State and National Parks are one of the most frugal choices you can make on vacation.
Travel in the off season
This is the beauty of homeschooling, right? You can choose to plan a vacation during the school year, when most families have kids in school. Florida was beautiful in February! The best time of year to visit Disney World is the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. You’ll find cheaper accommodations, car rentals, and often admission prices to area sites in the off-season. Plus, attractions won’t be as crowded.
Travel with another family and share the costs of a vacation cabin, beach house or other rental. You can share the costs of food as well, cooking most of your meals in your rental house.
Make a list ahead of time of what to pack
And check it twice. Make sure you’re not leaving behind important things like toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen, medications, etc. You don’t want to have to re-purchase these items after you’ve reached your destination. Also be sure you pack for the climate (and potential climate changes). More than once, I’ve had to buy a sweater while in Florida because I forgot that the nights can be cool.
Choose to stay home and have a staycation
The last thing you want to do is go into debt for a vacation. You can have just as much fun being a tourist in your own city, while sleeping in your own bed and making food in your own kitchen. You may even find some out of the way treats you may never have paid attention to without a focused staycation!
Combine vacation with a business trip or visit to see family
So that you’re not paying for overnight accommodations for your entire vacation, seek opportunities to combine travel with business or visiting family. Hotel costs are the major portion of the vacation budget. If you can save on that by staying with family or being reimbursed by you employer, then taking a vacation might be more affordable that you thought.
Begin saving now
Open up a vacation account and put money away every week or month so that by the end of the year (or two if it takes that long), you’ll have the cash to pay for everything. Combine this with the other tips listed above and you can likely afford a fabulous family vacation!
What are your tips for saving money on vacation?