Tips for Planning a Fun, Budget-Friendly Family Vacation
Planning a family vacation takes careful thought, budgeting, and preparation, and even then you may still find yourself wondering where your vacation fund went by the end of the trip. It’s easy to drop cash at stops during a road trip, shelling out money for drinks and snacks and souvenirs, and not even realize how much it’s adding up. If you choose to fly, you may be shocked at how much airlines charge for luggage fees. The best plan is to sit down and do some homework well before you leave so you’ll have time to figure out the total cost of the trip.
It will also help to be careful about shopping before you leave. While it can be tempting to go all out for the family and buy new clothing and travel necessities, you may be able to find some things much cheaper by using a second-hand app or taking advantage of yard sales and thrift stores. You never know what kind of treasures you’ll find if you know where to look.
Here are the best tips for planning a fun, budget-friendly family vacation:
There are a lot of things you’ll need for your vacation that you can get via the second-hand market, which, as Gumtree notes, has become a global multi-billion-dollar industry. From bathing suit cover-ups to beach toys, there are several things you can buy slightly used that will keep your budget on track. You can look for second-hand apps and websites, search in thrift shops and garage sales, and put the word out amongst family and friends that you’re looking for specific items, as they may have some things you can borrow or take off their hands.
Plan Your Journey
If you’re taking a road trip, it’s best not to wing it. This is because traveling can be expensive in many areas, and you don’t want gas and food to eat up your vacation budget on the first day. Plan the route as best you can, and bring some snacks along with you in the car. You can put turkey wraps, granola, fruit, string cheese, and water in a small cooler and keep it in the back of the car so everyone can grab what they want on the go, and it will keep you from having to spend money every time you stop. Planning will also allow you to budget for certain stops, such as at events or tourist attractions, and will also make it easier to use cruise control, which can save on gas.
Go the Rental Route
While many families enjoy staying in a hotel because of the amenities offered, it can actually be cheaper and easier to rent a vacation home or an Airbnb if you’ll be staying in the same spot for the duration of your trip. This is because a home will give you a full kitchen, so you can make a grocery trip when you arrive and make the most of your meals there rather than eating out, and you won’t have to worry about any added fees or deposits the way you would with a hotel. Also, many rental homes allow pets, whereas keeping a dog in a hotel might be problematic.
While you may not always be able to plan your vacation months in advance, it’s helpful to get started as early as possible, because it will allow you to find discounts on travel expenses and coupons for the places you know you’re going to visit. You may also get a better deal if you book early, or if you plan your trip for the off-season. Just make sure you’ll be able to follow through with your plans before you commit.
Theme parks and tourist attractions are fun, but they aren’t cheap. If you’re trying to keep costs down, venturing off the beaten path can help you keep the whole family entertained for less. In Jersey City specifically, picking your own fruit is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy at the multitude of strawberry, blueberry, and peach farms in the area. All around the country, entrance to state and national parks is typically low-cost or free, and many feature museums, guided tours, and free events for kids.
Bring Your Own Entertainment
Keeping everyone entertained during waking hours can be exhausting and expensive. To help keep everyone engaged without breaking the bank, be sure to pack activities to bring with you. A mix of favorite toys and books, as well as a new item or two, can be hours of fun. Don’t be afraid to spend a little money before you go, either. A family-friendly board game from the big box store can replace a night out at the arcade. A newly-released DVD can save you big bucks at the theatre. And dollar store trinkets can keep you from blowing your budget at the gift shops.
Planning a fun family vacation that’s also easy on the budget is never easy, but with a little preparation, you can make sure everyone has a great time without breaking the bank.