If you could think of one word to describe your ideal vacation, what would it be? You may have thought of something like adventure, relaxing, or exciting. These words are peppered across well-edited ads filled with happy families and perfect sunsets priming you for your next dream getaway. Unfortunately, those once-in-a-lifetime experiences can come with huge price tags.
Summer is a great season to carve out some time from your busy life to spend with family. Your work expects that you will request time off, your spouse is itching for a change of pace, and your kids are out of school so what do you have to lose?
Family vacations can be wonderful for connecting with your loved ones and sharing new experiences with them, but swimming with dolphins, all-inclusive cruises, and trips to Disney are quite pricey. I’d like to show you how you can still have wonderful family vacations without breaking the bank.
In the financial planning world, we talk about budgets a lot. That’s because they can do wonders for planning your money around your values. If taking family vacations is a priority for you and your family, then it is important to work that value into your annual budget.
I see so many people who lag on saving year-round and then when April comes around they begin scrambling and scrimping for cash to pay for their June sojourn. Just like with your other saving goals, it is important that you start saving early. Put aside some money each month into a separate savings account to build up the cash you need for your trip. When you incorporate saving into your regular routine, you will better be able to plan for your future.
By saving money year-round you will also be able to plan for the type of vacation you would like to take. Not all vacations are created equal. A trip to Disney World for a family of 4 will be much more expensive than a long weekend exploring a National Park. Understanding the type of vacation you want to take will help you create the saving plan that you will need to make that happen.
Make A Trip Budget
What is a trip without a budget? Well, that would be like a cheetah with no spots. Whenever you travel, it is important that you put together a budget for your expenses. Make a plan for the amount of money you have to spend on:
I recommend setting an approximate number for each of these categories before you start to book your trip to give you an idea of how much you want to spend. Making a specific trip budget will also show you areas where you can improve and where you want to cut additional costs.
Creative Ways To Cut Costs
There is almost no getting around the fact that any vacation you take will be expensive. But there are ways to trim your budget while still visiting your ideal destination. After you have created your trip budget, take these tips into account.
This is one of the best ways to save you money on your family vacation. Traveling to your destination in their off-season will lower the price of your transportation, hotel, and entertainment which always inflate during peak times.
You can also look at going to different or unique destinations. So while everyone else is jetting off to Florida for a sunny spring break your family can pack their bags for Charleston SC, Savannah GA, or Outer Banks NC. All of these places will offer you the sunny, warm vibe you are looking for without the huge price tag.
Find free (complimentary) food
Whenever I travel, I always try to find a hotel that offers free breakfast. This cuts out another meal that you would have to eat out which could save a family of 4 about $40-$50 per day!
If your hotel or residence offers a kitchen, make use of it! Cooking for yourself is always less expensive than going out to eat. You can make an afternoon trip heading to the store and making some of your family’s favorite food to cook and enjoy together.
Take part in free events
One of the most exciting parts about a trip is immersing yourself in the local culture. Head to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, take a walking tour of the local architecture, get a sense of the history at a museum, take part in festivals or parades. You may be surprised to discover the events that are going on in the area you are visiting. Check out their local websites for specific dates and times.
What Will the Kids Remember?
One of the primary reasons parents take vacations is to build good memories for their kids. Adults might like seeing magnificent structures and grand vistas, but visual sensory overload comes quick to kids and they tend to remember experiences and personal interactions more than “eye candy.”
One mother and father spent a boatload taking their 8- and 10-year old kids to Disneyland for nearly a week. On the last day of their vacation, they went to a local beach to picnic, swim, and play in the water. About seven or eight years later, they were reminiscing about past vacations and the trip to Disneyland came up. What did the kids remember liking the most? The beach! They had only hazy memories of Disneyland itself, but, “Wow! I remember Dad chasing that frisbee into the water! I remember Mom chasing that little crab away!” The beach, of course, cost nothing compared to Disneyland. The bottom line is to make sure that all vacations include some close, all-in family time.
Saving for a vacation can be difficult. But when you include vacations into your financial goals you will be better able to plan and prepare for the best vacation you’ve ever had. Are you interested in the best way to start saving for your next vacation? I would love to talk with you and get you on the right track.