Want to plan an epic family vacation for you and your loved ones? Looking for cheap ways to travel so your vacation doesn’t break the bank? You aren’t alone!
Across the globe, there are many families trying to save money while traveling right now. With the world economy in a shaky state, and a global pandemic making life a bit more difficult, it can be extra hard to find time to travel. And when you do finally find the time, you want to be able to find a place that you can afford.
A solo vacation might be cheap, but family vacations can get quite expensive. Think about having to buy multiple plane tickets, hotel rooms, and meals every day. Traveling can really add up!
But don’t sacrifice your trip just because you think it costs too much money. According to NerdWallet, 4 out of every 5 families wanted to go on a vacation in 2018. If you are one of those families, it’s time to get out your checkbook and your planner, because here are 15 cheap ways to travel with the whole gang!
1. Don’t Visit a City
Cities are always going to be more expensive than the countryside. If you are going away to another land, or even visiting a nearby province, make sure to book your travel somewhere far from the city center.
Not to mention, it might be more exciting for you and your kids to sleep in a rural area, as the peace and the sounds of nature will give you a much-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of your busy everyday life.
2. Book Your Stay Way Ahead of Time
Want to know how to travel on a budget? It’s easy! Book your stay far in advance!
In fact, the earlier you can secure your travel arrangements, the cheaper it will be. Most rates are cheaper 12 days or more before the start of your desired vacation time. For example, before Memorial Day weekend, Priceline data shows that flights and hotels prices hold steady for about 12 days before May 25, the start of that holiday weekend. After that, they start to steadily increase. Therefore, it may be a good idea to start booking sooner rather than later.
You will notice an increase in prices around major holidays or popular travel seasons. A good rule of thumb is to always start looking early!
3. Stay at Someone’s House!
If you really don’t feel like spending some of your hard-earned money on hotel rooms or resort stays, one of the popular and cheap ways to travel is to swap your house with someone. Ask one of your friends or a trusted family if they would be interested in swapping homes for a while. That way, you can go on a vacation by staying in someone else’s house, without having to worry about a homesitter or hotel fees! You can even get a late checkout with this idea!
4. Plan a Local Family Vacation
Have you ever heard of the phrase “staycation”? This usually describes someone who stays at home but goes on a mental vacation. It can also mean staying at home and visiting local places you haven’t seen before. Perhaps there is a new museum that opened up just outside of your city. Or maybe you and your kids have always wanted to visit that horse ranch up the hill so you plan to stay overnight while participating in fun activities.
There are many ways that traveling for cheap can become a reality for you and your family.
5. Ship Your Luggage, Don’t Check it In
When it comes time to check-in at the airport, you usually have to go through the annoying and sluggish process of getting your bags checked. Bigger luggage must be checked in, while smaller items can be carried on the plane with you. But most airlines will charge you extra money for more than one piece of luggage.
You will also be charged if the luggage is too heavy. All of these extra prices can really add up, and it may end up being too much. Something that can alleviate those expenses is the possibility of shipping your luggage to your destination instead of checking it in.
Try LugLess for an easy and cheap way to ship your luggage and avoid the hassle at the airport altogether!
6. Maintain Flexibility
If there’s one thing to know about how to travel on a budget, it’s that you should always leave a little wiggle room in case there is a last-minute change of plans. If you want to vacation on the cheap, you need to learn how to be a little bit flexible.
This applies to your work schedule as well. Flexibility is the key to saving money while traveling. Try opting for a mid-week vacation, rather than saving your time off for the weekend. If you can get out of your work commitments during the week, you will have an easier time finding affordable prices no matter where you are looking to stay.
7. Look for Deals and Discounts
Finding a cheap vacation plan might require some shopping around first. Don’t be afraid to do some research! Some companies like Priceline and Orbitz offer special discounts, deals, or packaged prices during certain times. If you follow certain companies on social media, they will offer exclusive discounts to followers. There are also deals you can find based on whether you are booking over the phone, on your computer, or on your mobile phone!
8. Find a Discount Resort
Discount resort? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Well, kind of – but this is really something you can look for in order to have a family vacation on a budget!
Some resorts offer much better package deals than others. For example, some places will charge an extra $100-$200 per child to have them participate in a kid’s day program. But other resorts will have events like this totally included without any extra fees. Be sure to look up what each place is offering so you can find you and your family the very best deal.
9. Book Now, and Get a Lower Rate Later!
This is a secret technique in the bargain-hunting field known as the “Robin Hood hack”. Here’s what you need to do:
- Look for drops in hotel prices after they are booked (You can use an app like Pruvo to record price drops!)
- Compare the lowered price with the price you booked your hotel at
- Call the hotel and request that they honor the lower rate for you
It’s not over until it’s over. Even when you book a hotel room, you still have a chance of getting a lowered rate after the fact.
10. Stay in a Room with a Kitchen
Popular travel guide author James Kaiser warns that it’s all-too-easy to spend lots of money on food every day, especially when you are on vacation. Traveling for cheap does not, unfortunately, include too many restaurant meals. It might help you save lots of money to stay in a place with a kitchen so you can prepare and store your own things.
This is how to travel on a budget without sacrificing the quality of your stay or the amount of fun you have. If you can’t find a place with a kitchen, you still have options; go to a nearby supermarket and buy some things that are easy to eat on the go or some simple things that will make for a healthy breakfast. You will still find that you’ve saved hundreds on expensive restaurant meals.
11. Don’t Pay Extra in Car Rental Fees
Car rentals can easily be a burden in your financials. Avoid monetary strain when you rent cars by avoiding expensive facilities. Did you know that rental car locations inside airports charge more than others? These places are often way too expensive. Not to mention, there are lots of extra fees associated with car rentals, such as insurance policies, gas charges, toll transponders, and more.
Make sure to thoroughly research the car rental place closest to your travel destination so you are aware of the rates. You can avoid hundreds in fees just by choosing a different place to rent your car!
12. List Your Home for Rent While You Vacation
You can rent out your home for a little bit of extra money while you enjoy your vacation. Not only will this help you save money while traveling, but it will give you a little something back so you can keep a comfortable cushion in your bank account. Popular websites like VRBO and Airbnb are great places to list your home for a temporary rental service.
Want to treat yourself to something special? Have a cleaning service come in and pick up after your guests after they leave, so by the time you get home, you can enjoy a clean house. That’s one less chore to have to think about, right?
13. Have Kids? Get a Discount!
There are many, MANY places around the world that offer discounts and deals for kids. You can easily have your family vacation on a budget by using your kids to get a discount.
You’ll find that restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions, theme parks, national parks, campsites, and even historical locations offer discounts or package deals for kids. This can help you save money when traveling on your next vacation.
There are even some places that will offer discounts based on your kid’s grades. All the locations of the Great Ohio Lodges in the USA offer discounts on your stay in any state park based on the number of As your child gets on their report card.
14. Combine Business and Pleasure
If you want to travel but you are on a very tight budget and schedule, why not turn your business trip into a little vacation that the whole family can enjoy? You may have some work to attend to, but you can stay for a couple of extra days and enjoy some of the local sights and attractions with your loved ones.
In some cases, your workplace may even provide you with a place to stay, free of charge, which can help you enjoy a family vacation on a budget. You may as well take advantage of a complimentary hotel room and use your extra cash to explore the surrounding areas.
15. Book at the Last Minute
Wait! Wasn’t there advice earlier in this guide that says to book as early as possible?
Yes, booking early can save you lots of money on your family vacation – but so can booking really late.
Usually, this is a big no-no when it comes to planning a vacation, but here’s a lesser-known secret: there are apps and websites out there that can help you find the best discounts on last-minute bookings. This means you can find exclusive deals that you’ll only find just moments before your vacation starts.
Try HotelTonight for the best last-minute deals on hotels that will help you majorly save money while traveling.
Save Money and Enjoy Your Family Vacation!
So many families across the globe are disheartened by the hefty costs of traveling, believing that they will never be able to afford a vacation for themselves and their loved ones. But with a little bit of time, research, and planning, you can find many cheap ways to travel.
Having a family vacation on a budget has never been easier. Soon, you’ll find that traveling for cheap has become addicting, and you’ll never be able to vacation again without hunting for every last deal. Get out there and find a budget-friendly way to enjoy some time off with the whole family!