With the slow economic recovery and diminished savings plans, Americans are now more than ever looking for new ways to save without dramatically altering their lifestyle. An important piece of that lifestyle is the family vacation. Vacations are not only a good way for the working class Americans to relieve the stresses of their financial woes, but vacations and tourism in general are vital pieces of the American economy and crucial for rebuilding are economic stature. For this reason, I spent a lot of time researching way that Americans can save enough money to allow for those all important vacations. So, here are some ways to save enough to take that all important family vacation.
Leave the toddlers at home
You may want to consider leaving the babies with friends or relatives. Make a deal with family and friends to do the same for them when they go out of town. Toddlers and babies don’t get much out of the vacation and many airlines require them to have their own seat. How many of us remember things from when we were two or three years old anyway. The sentimentality is understood, but don’t sacrifice your sanity for it. Take your break away from the little ones.
Save on airline fees
This will be the most expensive part of your trip if flying. Try to check as few bags as possible. See if two of you can work with one checked bag and the rest via carry-on luggage. Bag fees have gotten ridiculous. Southwest Airlines currently does not charge for bag fees and generally have cheaper prices than the competition. Also, book the flight as far in advance as possible, but keep an eye out for internet specials. Travel agents are dinosaurs and should be avoided.
Save on hotels
A good rule for saving on hotel rates is to identify peak periods for the hotels and take your vacation during off-peak times for that area. You will find that hotels will allow you to negotiate room rates if you visit them during the slow season. Avoid holiday weekends such as Memorial Day, Independence Day or Labor Day as rate are generally elevated during these holidays.
Limit restaurant visits
If you don’t normally eat at five star restaurants, don’t do it during your vacation. Kids love McDonald’s and you can treat them to the inexpensive value meals and specials. If you travel to a room with a kitchenette, try to doing some small meals to cut costs. If you’re taking a beach vacation, try packing a cooler with sandwiches and drinks to avoid the expensive beach restaurants and vendors.
Take a drive
If you can avoid flying, drive the family to someplace not so far. Airline tickets are generally the biggest expense of a vacation and can be so big that you don’t enjoy the vacation because you’re stuck on the cost of the trip. Consider renting a car or taking your family vehicle and using it as bonding time while saving a few bucks. In the end, you’ll accomplish spending that quality time with the family while keeping a few dollars in your pocket.
During these trying times, it is very important to make sure that you get away from it all. If you used to take two weeks, try taking one or if you used to take a week try trimming it down a few days. By all means, take your break but do it wisely.