We like to travel as much as we can, but we cannot always do it in the lap of luxury. The thing is, if you wait until you can travel on a huge budget, you might not ever do it. I try to make the most of the funds we have when we go away. When you travel as a family, it can be a bit more difficult to stay on budget. Little ones like Joaquín are expensive enough at home, let alone when you go traveling! But you are not required to be swimming in cash in order to have an enjoyable vacation. Keep reading to learn my family travel tips for when money is tight:
Plan A Trip And Start Saving
If you do not plan your trips, you are going to spend much more than you need to. It is easier to maintain a budget if you have one in the first place and do not just choose an arbitrary amount of money you are willing to spend. Create an itinerary for your vacation and cost up everything from travel to food. It is easier with some trips versus others, for example, if you are going on an all-inclusive vacation. Once you know how much your trip will cost, you can start saving. Divide the amount you need by the number of months you have to save and put aside the final figure each month. In no time, you will have the cash you need for your travels.
Travel With Others
Traveling with other people is an excellent way to save money. Also, this tip is not just for single people. If you are traveling as a family, you could save by going with another family or taking a friend. For example, maybe you have one child, so you select a vacation rental with two bedrooms. It could be cheaper to consider splitting the cost of a three bedroom property with another couple. Group deals are sometimes available for anything from travel to excursions too. Why not go with some friends on your next vacation? Or perhaps make it a multi-generational vacation and take your parents or siblings.
Watch Out For Deals
Of course, looking out for discounts and special offers is a great way to save on anything. If you are like me, you are always looking for ways to save on baby items! Travel is no different and you can always spot some excellent deals. One of the best things to do is to wait to book something until the very last minute. Of course, this means that plans will not be confirmed up until that point. That said, from a budget planning perspective you can still set funds aside based on where you want to go to ensure you have enough estimated for appropriate accommodations at your destination. There are a few websites that offer last minute deals and will not tell you exactly which hotel you are booking. This approach can be hit or miss, but you usually get to see enough information to estimate pricing, including the hotel ratings.
Does your credit card offer travel rewards? There are many available that will help you gain points with airlines or hotels. Some are affiliated with airlines or hotel companies, while others are independent. For example, you can get a credit card from British Airways for points with their Executive Club. Or you could earn hotel points with the Marriott Rewards Premier Club. These cards are excellent for earning points as you spend. Plus, being a member of the rewards group is a good idea too. If you travel a lot, maybe for business, points can add up quickly. These cards will not get you rewards points, but they will help to build your credit. This is a good thing if you are not currently able to get a useful rewards credit card.
Get Airline Memberships
As mentioned above, it is an excellent idea to join the rewards programs for airlines and hotels. Even if you do not use their credit cards, flying or staying with them will get you points. They are most useful if someone in your family travels a lot for business or other reasons. However, they can also be of use when you take vacations. Plus, there are sometimes ways to earn extra points through competitions or other methods.
Be Happy To Haggle
It is not always appropriate to haggle, or at least you will not always be successful. When you are on your travels, you will find some people are more open to haggling than others. But if you do not ask about the possibility of a discount, you definitely will not get one. Try to negotiate prices down in hotels or perhaps when buying from small stores and market stalls. You can also try and get some extras thrown in. It will not always work, but when it does you could make some significant savings.
Live Like The Locals
Do all the locals take public transport, because it is cheaper and more convenient than cars? Do they all go out to eat in the local restaurant quarter, rather than the central business district? When we are on vacation, it is easy to act like a tourist the whole time. You might take taxis to get where you want to go or eat at tourist restaurants. However, you can save a lot more if you are prepared to do what the locals do. It is a great way to give your kids lots of experience with different foods and environments.
When we go on vacation, we all want to relax. So, it is easy to say that you are not going to cook or clean for the whole trip. Or you might decide you do not want to drive around. That is okay, but if you want to save money, you should try to be a bit more self-sufficient. Instead of staying in a hotel and going out to eat for every meal, rent a property so that you have the choice to cook. Hire a car, take public transport, or even walk, instead of taking a taxi everywhere. These things will all help you to save.
Looking for even more ways to travel on a budget? You can start your planning now by checking out these “10 Easy Ways To Travel For Less In The New Year” straight from Alamo Rent A Car’s Scenic Route — a collection of travel stories, videos, guides, and more on Alamo’s website designed to inspire travelers to make the most of their vacations. You can still have family vacations if you are low on cash. You just have to be smart about how you save and spend!