Summer is a traditional vacation time for many people. While winter holidays are often spent visiting extended family, the summer trip is usually reserved for the immediate family, but when traveling with children, finding a cheap vacation can often be difficult. Look well in advance for options, and watch the after-vacation expenses that show up unexpectedly to maximize frugality without sacrificing fun.
Listing and Sorting Options
Having too many options from which to choose is far better than having only one or two. Sometimes, not everyone's preferences can be accommodated each year, but having everyone involved contribute to vacation ideas helps broaden the field.
Try to include something that is of interest to everyone or alternating interests throughout the family. One child may love the idea of going to a snake museum, but another child would prefer a water park, for instance. There's nothing wrong with “assigning” a day to each child's interests, so long as the parents get a day as well.
Identify all your options before you start planning, for you might discover an alternative that might be more enjoyable for everyone than “same old, same old.”
Pre-Plan the Planning
Once you narrow your choices to, say, the top three, compare relative costs: If you will stay in a hotel, what are the room costs in each area? Will you need transportation while there in addition to air or train fare? What are the gasoline costs in your target areas and the trip if you are driving? If you rent a car, will your current car insurance cover that vehicle? Would a short-term policy work better in your budget?
Lodging and Food
Hotel costs eat vacation budgets faster than almost anything. It is possible, however, to use alternate lodging that will cost far less in most cases. Renting a home for a short time is growing in popularity. So long as you leave it clean, you can cook meals instead of dining out. Take a picnic cooler with lunch instead of buying fast food. Save the Big Night Out for the last night of vacation and cook your meals the rest of the time.
Renting an RV while in your vacation area is another alternative that provides both lodging and transportation. Advanced reservations can cut costs tremendously. Also, take advantage of local pick-up and schedule your air destination to the nearest city where an RV rental is possible. The air fare may be less, even allowing for the fuel cost to drive to your destination city.
Since campers provide a cooking area and a refrigerator, costs of meals are lower as well.
This idea, by the way, can work when visiting relatives: You are providing your own beds, which reduces stress and work for your hosts.
Airfares are often non-refundable if purchased at a discount, so be very sure of your dates of travel. Avoid the high-traffic days if possible, and schedule your airline departures during the week to save on tickets. Scheduling very early morning or evening departures usually cost less as well, so investigate all possible timing options before booking. Some savvy travelers receive enough of a price break by scheduling this way that they can book a hotel room close to the airport for the night before and still save money. That wake-up call from the front desk can help avoid missing an early flight.
If you head toward an international destination, you might want to invest in a cheap mobile phone after you land. Often pay-as-you-go phones can be refilled easily, and cost less to use while on vacation that steep international calling plans.
When you return to the States, you can simply purchase a US SIM card to enable domestic use, or you can just remove the SIM and recycle it. Mobile phones are 100-per cent recyclable, which can be important if you are ecologically-minded.
Watch credit card fees for international services. Many card issuers charge up to 3 percent on those purchases, and if using a bank card, expect international transaction fees. Instead, try purchasing traveler's checks or finding a card that waives those fees.
You don't need to apply for a loan to enjoy a vacation this year. Saving money while on vacation is entirely possible with some advanced planning and some alternative thinking.
by Jaye Ryan, a freelance writer who loves writing about finance tips for Octopus Loans.
I'm Louida from Atlanta, Georgia and I'm a mother of two daughters, blogger, and full time working mom at a Business Consulting Firm.
I love helping others learn how to start working from home on the internet free to supplement their current income.
I also blog at Productreviewmom.com
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