Most of us think we need to spend a lot of money to have a memorable family vacation, but that just isn't true. You can take the whole family on the vacation of a lifetime for a price that won't haunt you months and years later. When planning, consider some affordable options to save money. Here's how to find cheap family vacations.
Helpful hints for finding the lowest prices:
- Whenever possible, book hotels and plane tickets online. The general rule is that talk isn't cheap. Employee time costs a lot, and companies save money when you place an order over their website instead of talking to a person. They usually pass these savings to you. So when planning a family trip, check the prices of the hotel or plane online before calling the company.
- Hotels: You can easily save 20-30% booking your hotel online. Try websites like Hotwire.com, Expedia.com, or even Priceline.com. If you're willing to be flexible, you can find inexpensive family vacations this way and save a great deal of money.
- Flights: You can usually get a better price if you take the time to book your flight using Internet sites like Expedia.com, and Travelocity.com. Travelocity offers a FareWatcher service that will email you when prices for your route change. You may also want to book a flight using you favorite airline's website. Once again, if you'll agree to be a little flexible as to which flight you'll take, you can save quite a bit of cash.
- Can you drive to your destination? If so, consider taking the most fuel-efficient car you own. Family travel is often easier and less expensive when driving to a destination rather than flying. This usually means taking your smallest car, so try to pack light.
- Buses and Trains: If you take a bus or train to your destination, you may save money but you'll lose quite a bit of time. Buses and trains make a lot of stops, and you'll never be working on your own schedule.
Before making plans to travel this way, be sure to check the reservations to find out how much time you'll lose and whether the trip will actually be cheaper. Believe it or not, sometimes a train will be more expensive than driving! Also, there are simply some places you can't go via train, and going a roundabout way could add many hours to your trip. On the other hand, you can sleep on your trip, sometimes even travel at night and wake up at your destination -- talk about relaxing!
- Try to limit how much you eat at restaurants. Go to the local grocery store and get something quick and easy to prepare. Consider how much you can save by making your own sandwiches instead of going to a casual dining restaurant. This is one of biggest secrets when it comes to fun, affordable family vacations.
- Bring a tent and take the family camping. Ask anybody who has been around for a while -- camping isn't quite like it used to be; most campgrounds are much nicer than they were just ten or fifteen years ago. Usually, water and electrical hookups are standard. Many campgrounds have cable TV at every site and some places even have WiFi access for those of you who can't resist peeking at your e-mail. You can enjoy a stay in pristine forests and untouched landscapes for much less than a hotel. Rates for a campsite are around $20 - $25 per night. Planning a family vacation here may be your most affordable option. Check out the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov.