Taking a family vacation out of our comfort zone and daily routine can be challenging for a budget-conscious traveler. Experts share tips on how to overcome this challenge.
Traveling with kids and sticking to a budget is not much different from going to the supermarket with kids. Instead of begging for that bag of Chips Ahoy! You may be asked for items that you hadn’t planned on buying, as children request everything from high-priced souvenirs to tastier treats and just about anything from the mundane to the unusual that crosses their path (or line of sight).
Our comfort zones are often shifted when we travel, and as a result, parents may be more likely to spend money on impulse. It’s difficult to maintain a level head when we are making our children unhappy, and we often reach for our wallets to provide money rather than say no.”
However, just as you’ve learned to rein in your spending while grocery shopping (hopefully), you can do the same while on vacation with your children. Creating a vacation budget is the first step – writing it down on paper or entering an electronic version in a budgeting app. It doesn’t matter how you go about it, be sure to allocate money for all the vacation-related things you may wish to do or expenses you might incur.
The next step is sticking to your carefully planned vacation budget once you get on the road. As part of our efforts to meet this challenge, we have compiled tips from insiders in the travel industry on how to stay on budget once your family is out exploring.
Live Like a Local
It’s wonderful to stay at a nice hotel that includes amenities and activities for people of all ages. However, it can be quite costly as well, making it difficult to vacation on a budget. You can limit spending on family trips by not hotel hopping. Oftentimes, vacation rentals offer discounts for longer stays, and by staying in a vacation rental you won’t have to eat out as often. In addition to the washing machine, rental properties often have a laundry room, so you don’t have to worry about packing extra clothes.
One of the best ways to save is to avoid baggage fees. Additionally, you can skip the laundromat or hotel fee when traveling with your family when you have access to a washing machine.
Set a Budget for Snacks
It can be difficult to say no to cute stuffed animals or snow globes that commemorate your trip as a parent, not to mention the endless stream of tempting snacks at amusement parks and other entertainment venues. Setting a souvenir and snack budget for your kids and discussing it with them ahead of time will allow you to save some money on at least some of these items.
Giving your children a card with a predetermined amount to spend will allow them to manage their own money. Greenlight is a debit card for kids. We like that it gives our kids a sense of independence in buying their own things. Our account is not directly linked to her card if it gets lost or stolen.
Debit cards from Greenlight are accepted around the world. An additional benefit is both parents and kids can use separate apps for the card. Parent users can set different spending controls and create real-time alerts for their spending by logging into an adult-oriented version of the app. Similarly, kids can check the balances of the accounts associated with their debit cards through the app.
One other way to keep souvenir spending in check is to give your kids cash at the beginning of the trip and explain that they will need to use it to pay for any extras that they wish to purchase.
Kids love it because it teaches them about the value of money and how to be wise with their money before spending it.
Vacations with a family can be budget busters because of the accumulated cost of food and drinks. Whenever possible, eat in your vacation rental or a hotel room with a kitchenette.
Eating out every day may be fun since you don’t have to worry about cooking, and you can sample local fare, but it comes at a high cost. You can save some money by having breakfast at home and keeping restaurant meals for a special treat.
In addition to learning about different cultures and exposing kids to the variety of food options available in other parts of the country and the world by preparing some meals on your own while on vacation, shopping for food in local supermarkets can also be a fun experience.
Make Pre-Bookings for Activities and Tours Ahead of Time
You and your family will appreciate it if you research tours and activities you’d like to take part in long before you go on vacation. Don’t forget to pay for these activities in advance while you’re at it.
Budget for your “must-do” activities before your trip. It’s possible to use any leftover funds to pay for extras if we have money left. Thisway you can avoid blowing your budget if you do this.
Many museums, parks, and even theatrical performances and plays offer free admission on certain days. Make the most of these days during your family vacation by finding out when they are. During those weeks, you will be able to save more money and engage in more activities while staying within your budget if you plan or rearrange your visits.
Explore On Your Own
Family vacations are one of the best times to spend together since they allow us to unplug from electronic devices and everyday distractions. By skipping the guided tours, you’ll be able to make the most out of this valuable quality time and save money on your trip.
A guided tour requires you to pay someone a fee to guide you. Tours can be wonderful experiences, but they are also quite costly to take as a family. It is often less expensive per person to hire a cab, get on a local bus, or rent a car for an impromptu sightseeing trip than to take a guided tour.
Furthermore, exploring independently frees your family from expensive tourist shops or places that do not align with your family’s interests.
Use Gift Cards or Coupons
Here’s a money-saving tip for parents everywhere: Once you’ve created your budget, look for items that can be paid for with gift cards.
What is the point of purchasing vacation gift cards? Why should I do so?
Getting discounts for specialty gift cards will help you stretch your travel budget further. You can get an automatic 5 percent discount on Disney, restaurants, and entertainment venues when you use your debit or credit RedCard at Target or Target.com.
Target RedCard users can use their Target Red Card to purchase a special $25 gift card through Target without actually paying $25, since their cards offer a 5 percent discount off everything. Therefore, you just received free money.
Additionally, sites like Raise offer discounted gift cards. Spending your budget on gift cards is a modern version of the envelope method. Don’t buy gifts impulsively, but be careful cards so you don’t end up with too much money left over on a gift card you can’t use at home.
Having a budget can help guide your spending, but going off budget now and then to include special events can make the difference between just a good trip and an unforgettable one. You should have a plan before you try this.
Tracking your spending is helpful for special events because it is easy to overspend. It’s cheaper and safer to use a credit card these days, since using cash often isn’t worth it. This allows us to know exactly where our money is going and if we are staying on budget.