Planning a Family Vacation on a budget
Family Vacation time is always my favorite time of the year. I love taking my kids to new places and making awesome memories with them. Vacationing though, requires a lot of planning and usually a good chunk of money. After planning an awesome family trip to myrtle beach last year, I realized that I had been doing it very wrong in the years before. Planning a family vacation is very different than planning a trip with your girlfriends, you have to take so many things into consideration and try to find the best deals that will accommodate everyone. If you are traveling with little ones, you may feel even more limited. This can be true, but not in all cases. I am planning a week long trip to Clearwater Beach, Florida with my family and I am planning it as best that I can.
The dates that you choose are super important.
So here is the thing. It can be super hard find good deals on travel and lodging during the holidays and other peak times of the year, so be mindful of when you are planning to take your trip. For example, we always take our Summer trip on the week of 4th of July. Because of this, we expect to pay more for just about everything. If you want to plan a family trip and save a little cash, I would definitely recommend doing so on the off season, or less popular times.
Research your destination thoroughly and make a list of all the activities that you want to do.
I have been to Clearwater Beach before, last year. I got to do a lot of awesome things there, but there were a couple of things that I didn’t get to do because I didn’t have enough time. I have put those things on the list for my family vacation, and I absolutely can’t wait. With this list, I start to research prices and look for deals. For example I was able to visit the Clearwater Marine aquarium to see Winter, the dolphin from ‘A Dolphins Tale’ My kids want to go, so I put it on the list and then followed the aquarium on Facebook. A week or so later, I saw they are running a special-half price aquarium admission tickets from 4-8 pm. That’s a savings of roughly $40 just from being on Facebook! I can’t guarantee they will be running that deal when we go, but now I know where to look when its time for my trip. I will use this routine and save tons of cash. Brilliant! Check your favorite savings websites for awesome deals and discounts on vacation activities. It saves tons of cash.
If you are someone who has a credit card that earns you miles or hotel stays, this might not be much of an issue for you. I know tons of people who get almost free travel just from their credit card. If not, then you have to weigh the cost between driving and flying (if driving is doable) The price of renting a car and the price of gas, etc, There are additional costs to consider when traveling such as bag check and things like that. We have decided to do a road trip from VA to FL which I’m sure will be super interesting. I love road trips and I think every family should endure at least one long road trip together
Do NOT stay at a hotel
So before I discovered AirBNB, we always stayed in hotels. You guys, I HATE hotels. There are many problems with hotels for families, they are almost never a good idea unless the vacation is short. I absolutely hate not having a way to cook food or store drinks and stuff like that. Especially when my kids were babies. Last year we booked an AirBNB for the first time. It. Was. Life. Changing.
We had this super adorable colorful condo right across the street from the beach. It had everything my house would have. A full kitchen, Netflix, and a cute bedroom for my girls with 2 twin beds. It was also like, $15 dollars less per day than the TERRIBLE hotel we stayed in 2 years ago. After that, I will never stay in a hotel again.
Meal Plan, Grocery Shop, and cook just like you do at home.
This is what saved us a ton of money. The food. Since we knew we had a full kitchen available to us, we went grocery shopping right after we arrived and settled in. It was super annoying having to go to Wal Mart before hitting the beach, but I had a meal plan, so shopping was easy and painless I suppose. I was able to cook the same awesome food that I cook at home and we mostly only went out for dinner because we wanted to have all the seafood we could possibly get. Going out to eat for 3 meals every day on vacation is expensive and time consuming. I’m so glad we did it this way.
Pack everything you could possibly need-without packing too much.
The first couple of times I went to the beach with my kids, I didn’t pack everything I should have, especially since they were so young. Then, last year they stayed with their grandparents alone for 5 days. I literally packed every type of medicine I had in my medicine cabinet, bandaids and first aid gear, etc. Because they don’t have any kids and wouldn’t have it handy. So now when I go on vacation, I bring all the medication and first aid stuff we might need. Having to purchase things like medicine on the road is pricey and inconvenient. Fortunately, we will be prepared for most anything.
If you decide to drive, pack all your snacks.
Another thing that I didn’t do when I first started vacationing, was pack food for the road. We always just stopped and grabbed whatever we wanted. That isn’t the most budget friendly way to do things though, especially if you are doing a long road trip. I highly suggest hitting the grocery store before you leave. Grab snacks and prepare individual food bags for everyone. It saves a ton of money and time. You will only need to stop for gas and restroom breaks at this point.
These are all of the tips I wish I new when I was going on vacations as a new mom. Things that could have made our family trips so much easier, more fun, and more affordable. Let me know if I forgot anything. Where are you going for next vacation?