Living over 650 miles from our family, our kids have become really great travelers. We typically make the trek from Indiana to Oklahoma in one day, even with little ones. It is a long day, but they have become real pros over the last six years. So when we took off in our van and travel trailer two years ago, it wasn’t a hard transition.
There were so many different and wonderful places we wanted to share and experience with our children. The only problem we had was the cost of traveling. We did finally figure out the best and easiest ways to save money, but it wasn’t without some challenges.
Most parents dream of taking their children on trips and adventures they either never had as a child or ones they loved so much they never forgot. One of the perks of being a homeschool family is that we can travel to many places during the non-peak seasons. This can really save you quite a bit of money. Airfare can be less expensive and hotels are cheaper as they just want to “fill” the rooms.
These days it seems like every one wants to travel to new places and experience new things, but often times it feels like it’s always out of reach of the budget. Contrary to popular belief, traveling doesn’t have to be a ridiculous spending spree. If done carefully, anyone can travel – even on a tight budget!
You need to know what you have to work with before you start anything else. Take your total and break it down into all the costs of travel. Categories like hotel, travel, and food are a good place to start. Think about exactly what you want to do each day you’re traveling, and research how much it will cost. If you are able to plan everything carefully, you will be much more comfortable with a tight budget.
Stand Firm on Spending
A budget is nothing if you don’t follow it! Once you have your budget sorted out, stick to it like super glue! If you go over in one area, deduct the difference from a different area. Keep track of every cent you spend and don’t let yourself get complacent. If you stop thinking about it and updating it, your budget will fall apart and you’ll overspend. Skip the souvenir, a picture is more personal and can be taken at no cost from your phone!
Search for Discounts
This one might sound obvious, but it’s an important step many people don’t consider when traveling. Check for discounts online not only for travel, but also your lodging, activities, and even food. Many times you can find information about restaurants and food options ahead of time so you have a better idea of what you can and cannot do on your trip.
Traveling on a tight budget is hard, so remember that any little bit helps. Don’t pass up coupons because you feel like you’re not saving enough with them. Even if you’re only able to get $20 of combined discounts, that’s some wiggle room for unplanned things down the road.
Take Advantage of Travel Sites
When searching for discounts, don’t forget to check out travel sites. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way for a large family to vacation at the beach or in a larger city, be sure to check out airbnb.com, booking.com and vrbo.com for some great deals on houses and apartments. When searching for airline tickets check out cheapflights.com, kayak.com for the best deals from multiple airlines.
When booking your hotel or travel, be flexible in the days you have to choose from. Sometimes booking for even a single day later can save you $100 or more! Rates for hotels and flights change constantly and can be found for extremely cheap last minute. They would rather have a booking at a steep discount than no booking at all, making flexibility a major factor in your costs.
If you fly, pack as light as you reasonably can to avoid checked bag fees. It would be terrible to have found the deal of a lifetime on a flight and have to spend your savings just to bring your bag. Traveling light is also a great way to practice living on less, which can be used in everyday life at home to reduce spending too! If you need to take a lot of clothing, try these tips or this trick for packing tighter.
Are you taking a trip this summer? Vacation can be an exciting time, but like most parents I dread hearing the “When are we leaving?” or “How many more days until we leave?” questions once the kids know. This is precisely why we kept our last vacation a secret for over seven months!
And another great reason I put together this adorable Vacation Fun Planning Pack! This pack includes a few summer themed coloring pages, a Summer BINGO game to play as you countdown the days and four different themed countdown pages to help eliminate those nagging questions!
Download the Vacation Fun Planning Pack
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