When the thought of taking your family out to dinner makes you cringe because of the expense, it is hard to contemplate taking everyone along for an actual vacation. Even though money concerns may make it seem as though you will never get away, you do have options, a number of them in fact.
Here are some ways that you can stretch your vacation budget.
1. Look for the budget airline hubs
Although airfare prices seem to be rising, there are a number of airline hubs that tend to have the cheapest airfare tickets. Some places are just less expensive to fly to, and distance isn’t always a factor. Explore those hubs and see if they will work for your vacation. Miami and Los Angeles seem to be two such hubs, but make sure to do your own research before you buy, by comparing ticket prices. Sometimes it is worth it to drive a little out of your way and take off from another airport to save hundreds of dollars on your flight.
2. Be flexible when flying
If you are willing to fly an alternative route, add a stop over to your trip, or be flexible about when you travel, you can save big bucks on your airfare. Booking your flight at the last minute will also save money, although you run the risk of not being able to get a flight at all. To minimize this, ask an expert, such as an airline employee or a travel agent which specific flights tend to fill quickly.
You can also look for deals that combine flying with lodging to save even more money.
3. Switch the plane for the car
Despite rising gas prices, driving is still usually cheaper than flying, especially for families. Unlike flying, you aren’t charged a fee for each family member or for extra baggage. You can also pack lunches, snacks and drinks to reduce the cost of your meals. If you are driving more than eight hours, consider starting your trip in the evening. The kids can sleep through the night while the adults switch off on the driving duties. The difference you save may make it possible to take the trip in the first place, versus having to skip it altogether.
4. Opt for lodging where kids stay free and eat free
Share your room with the kids, and they just may be able to stay and even eat for free. Many hotels will welcome children in order to get your business. You can opt for extra cots in the room for the kids, although you may be charged for them. Another option is to bring your own sleeping bags and let the kids sleep on the floor.
Check the hotel rules. Some only allow four people in a room at a time.
Even if it costs a few dollars more, choose a room with a refrigerator and microwave. You’ll be able to put together some simple meals in your room to cut down on the cost of food, or at the very least, stock healthy and inexpensive snacks, such as yogurt or soup.