Vacations are the greatly sought after reward for enduring months of juggling life and all of its exciting trials and tribulations. However, being able to finally enjoy the bliss of relaxation and quality family bonding comes with a price. The average American family of four can look to spend upwards of $4,580 for a getaway! Taking a break from your hectic schedule to reconnect with yourself and your family shouldn’t be a privilege only some can afford. Studies show that family vacations are vital to the overall happiness of your household unit, as well as greater development of your child’s mental, emotional, and cognitive health. With the right preparation, you can provide this health benefit to your family without fear of wondering if you can truly afford to take time off!
Dream spots to hidden gems: A location for every budget
Don’t feel as though a vacation will only be worth your time and family’s benefit if you’re jetsetting to a lavish and exotic destination. If that’s what you’re looking to save up for, great! Quality family relaxation, however, can be done anywhere.
Quick and wallet-friendly
With the kids back to school and your needing to bank those vacation days for the upcoming holidays, perhaps you simply don’t have the time to take an entire week off. Look into weekend escapes in order to still squeeze in a change of scenery for your family. Going somewhere within driving distance will save you money on transportation. Furthermore, choosing a brief, two-day stay will save you on hotel accommodations.
Domestic on a budget
If your looking to see beyond your home state or its surrounding neighbors, search for resort packages. Family destinations, like Disney World, offer variations of packages for every budget, some even including airfare! If you’re looking to visit a landmark like the Grand Canyon or a popular waterfront spot like Myrtle Beach, research available hotel and travel bundles on various vacation sites.
Abroad without breaking the bank
If you’re in no hurry to whisk your family away do your research on the best times to travel out of country. Travelling smart and being aware of what the airlines consider to be peak travel seasons will help you navigate getting the best deal for your dream vacation. “Shoulder season” occurs mid-February to the end of April and again mid-September until mid-November, which are when international flights are at their cheapest.
Be “smart” about your planning
Although it may seem obvious, the best way to vacation without stressing your finances is truly by planning. Once you’ve decided to vacation as a family and determined a location, work on setting realistic goals for your saving and budgeting. This will ensure enough of a cushion in your account in order to have an enjoyable vacation sans penny-pinching.
Smartphones can be invaluable money managing tools due to the endless available apps designed with budgeting in mind. User-friendly mobile banking apps will allow you to check in on your finances whenever and wherever, and some can even be set up to allocate money to a vacation savings fund automatically. This accessibility will help you be constantly mindful of your spending and saving. If you’re looking to set specific goals and keep track of frivolous spending, turning to apps like Twine will help make saving a collaborative effort. Twine works great with mobile banking apps, as it can be paired to set up goals in relation to your bank account (and even as it grows!) and keep track of your progress. You can assess where you’re succeeding and keep track of how much both you and your partner are contributing to your vacation each week!
Tips and tricks
In addition to careful financial planning in the months leading up to your family getaway, be mindful of some other easy ways to save without cheapening your experience!
Rent a home not a hotel
Before you book that hotel room, check out alternative rental sites like Airbnb or Homeaway for listings of available apartments or houses for rent within your destination. These sites offer sporadic discounts throughout the week that can help you save on your accommodations. You can even contact the lister personally and inquire about any possible discounts! Even if the price is equivalent to hotels in the area, having a spacious house to settle into will provide a more comfortable environment for your children and will save in areas beyond accommodations. Unlike a hotel, you’ll have access to a full kitchen, allowing you to save on eating out every meal!
Go where the locals go
Some popular areas for travel are quick to take advantage of tourists, hiking up prices for experience. Fill your itinerary with one or two tourist attractions and spend the rest of your time on low cost sightseeing or mom and pop restaurants. Not only will the foot traffic be more bearable, but your budget will thank you as well.
Flying? Get those tickets early!
Aiming to purchase your tickets at least 3-4 months prior and opting to fly out mid week will save you money on travel, especially if going international! This will leave more for food, shopping, or even exciting excursions! Research your location to see if there are any surrounding areas worth travelling to while in already in the area. Locations in Europe offer cheap flights to neighboring countries, allowing you to experience the most from your abroad escape