July is here and the heat is on; not just with rising summer temperatures, but also to take the family on that magical vacation that your kids over 9 years of age will remember for the rest of their lives and the ones below nine will see pictures of for years to come. Cheap travel ideas and lifehacks are all over the internet, some of them are more about ideals than actual, practical tips. Saving money while traveling and budget vacations don’t sound sexy, but thrifty vacation spending can be properly disguised with a few tips that actually work.
Golden Financial Services is here with the inside scoop, and we promise we won’t tell your wife how you managed to do so much with a small budget.
Plan WAY Ahead
If you are trying to vacation next week, you might as well skip ahead to our next tip because you are already too far gone to jump in the boat on this one. If you are pondering whether those extra two weeks in advance are really necessary, you are probably not considering airfare, hotel rates in peak season, and how concert tickets tend to sell out before scalpers get their middle man money. If you plan on camping, you’re up against spaces being reserved. The closer you get to your target date, the farther away from a National Park you may have to stay.
Pace Yourself, Make Sure You Get the Proper Value Out of Each Experience
This is one of the most common mistakes vacationers make; over-booking experiences and attractions and having to rush to get through everything. This is not only not efficient, but also expensive. If you are an employee making an hourly wage, you know the best chance you have of getting a raise is a combination of doing your tasks well and doing them efficiently. This saves your employer money in a roundabout way, and hopefully, they recognize your benefit to the company. In the same way, make sure you are getting the most out of your vacation by pacing yourself, rather than trying to see everything so quickly.
Lifehacker adds some excellent thoughts and details about the National Park road trip style of family vacationing:
“Most parks feature amazing sights that require almost no trail walking and there are trails and hikes available in most parks with a huge variety of different lengths and different difficulties. Some are basically walks along an elevated boardwalk for half a mile through a beautiful forest, while others might involve many miles of hilly trail hiking—and we’re not even talking about back country hiking. You can find something that perfectly matches your fitness level and desire to hike and you can spread different walks and hikes throughout the trip.”
Do the Homework On Best Places to Visit for Your Dollar
Whether you are an amusement park family, a National Park family, or just an outdoors aficionado, there are literally hundreds of websites out there dedicated to bringing you ideas on how to travel on a budget. For example, US News offers a good variety of places to visit in the States that don’t tip the financial scales toward the red.
Groupon also offers a solid list, but they also include international destinations in case you have a taste for the rest of the world. Meanwhile, Forbes lists a whopping 38 destinations, with tips for each one.
Book Travel Packages from Warehouse Stores
Lastly, club store chains like Costco often offer better deals than you might find online, mostly because you are already paying them a membership fee, and they get the same offerings from their travel partners that you would find on popular travel websites. Here is an example from DaveRamsey.com, for reference:
“For example, one Costco deal we found includes five days of accommodations for two adults at the Sheraton Vistana Resort Villas, Walt Disney World tickets, and car rental for about $1,900.(2) But if you paid for your hotel stay, Disney passes, and car rental separately, it would set you back about $2,200. That’s a savings of over $300 just by being smart about who you book with.”
Use Cheap Transportation
Last on our list, this excellent idea from Travelocity is one of the most commonly missed ideas families pass on vacation, as rental cars and taxis are not always the cheapest or most effective options:
“Do a little research before you get to your destination and figure out what the cheapest form of transportation is. When I am in NYC with the kids, I find the cheapest way to get around is not necessarily the subway. If I’m traveling solo, the subway would definitely be the cheapest, but when there are four of us, a Lyft is the same price and sometimes slightly less expensive. Never assume that one form of transportation is cheaper than another.”