Traveling on a budget does not mean you have to sacrifice a memorable vacation experience. Family vacations are meant to be fun and if you are continuously worrying about the cost, you could miss out on some great adventures. A budget vacation requires planning ahead for the mode of transportation, place you will stay, meals and what you will do for entertainment. Set a budget and stick to it. If you only carry cash or travelers checks, you cannot spend more than you have, so leave the credit cards at home. There are thousands of options available to have a memorable vacation without spending a fortune. Creativity and imagination are the two best ways to find the perfect family vacation.
1. Transportation: If you choose a vacation spot close to your hometown, driving will save hundreds of dollars on transportation fees. Renting an RV may appear to be slightly more expensive than traveling by car but, if you have an RV for transportation, you will save a large amount of money that would be otherwise spent on a hotel. If you prefer getting to the destination with someone else doing the driving, consider traveling by train. Train tickets are usually discounted during the off seasons and it is a good way to see the countryside. Flying can also be less expensive than expected if you leave during the week and book the flight a few weeks in advance.
2. Lodging: Consider camping to save a large chunk of money from the lodging expenses. There are thousands of campsites to choose from ranging from totally roughing it in the wilderness to campgrounds with resort type amenities. If you have decided to take an RV, the majority of campgrounds have hookups for electricity, water and many have cable television available.
3. Meals: Eating can quickly become one of the most expensive parts of the vacation unless you plan ahead. Stay in hotels that offer free breakfast buffets and eat a filling breakfast to avoid spending money on snacks between meals. Consider renting a vacation condo or hotel room that comes equipped with a kitchen for cooking meals. If your vacation includes going to an amusement park, avoid spending a lot of money at the park by eating a big breakfast before going, pack a picnic lunch to be eaten at the park and bring plenty of healthy snacks and bottles of water.
4. Entertainment: If you have chosen a hotel for lodging, choose one that has plenty of water activities, a playground on the premises and offers entertainment. Spend the day walking to explore the sites of the city. Hotels typically have a brochure stand in the lobby with coupon booklets and special discounts available for staying at the hotel. Take advantage of the discounts available and plan a day or two doing things that you only have a discount for
Planning ahead for the type of vacation you will take can save you a lot of money. The goal is to plan, plan and plan in order to save money while making memories.
5. Cruises: Taking a cruise can be one of the least expensive vacations, if you plan ahead. There are two ways to save money on booking a cruise: plan the trip several months in advance and pay for the trip in installments or search for last minute discount deals. When cruise ships are set to sail and they have not sold out all of the cabins, they will offer as much as 75% off of some cruises. Taking a short three day cruise can be had for only a couple of hundred dollars per person and the cruise lines will often give discounts for more than two people in a cabin. When taking a cruise, all of the meals and entertainment is provided on the ship. The only extras you would have to pay for are alcoholic beverages, shopping and excursions off the ship.
6. Amusement parks: The number one rule is to never pay full admission price to enter an amusement park. There are military discounts and senior citizen discounts available as well as local discounts. Search local newspapers, soda cans or ask a local where to find a coupon for the local amusement park. Buy souvenirs outside of the amusement parks and eat meals before entering or pack a picnic to eat while inside the park.
7. Local attractions: Visiting places in your hometown for a short get away are great ways to save money and get some fun family time in. Pack the car for a three day camping trip at the closest campgrounds and go on hikes, swim in a lake or go fishing.
8. Museums: Plan a camping trip or book an inexpensive hotel room near several museums. Make it a museum weekend by going to a children’s museum, an art museum and a museum of natural history. The admission prices are relatively inexpensive and there are usually discount coupons available in local tourist books.
9. Zoos: Visiting a zoo is an inexpensive way to get educational and quality time in with the family. Most zoos have discount coupons available on their websites. Make it a quick getaway by staying in an inexpensive hotel for the weekend and getting a two day zoo pass.
10. Out of the Ordinary: Instead of going to the places where hundreds of others will also be spending their vacations, go to unique areas and out of the way places. Visit local farms that have fruit picking or a petting zoo. There are also places nearby that tourists visit, but locals seem to forget about.
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