There is no question that vacations can be very expensive for most middle-income families. The two most expensive aspects of any vacation are the airfare and hotel. However, there are strategies that you can use to plan a budget-friendly family trip without putting a big dent on your pocket. All it takes is a proactive approach and some planning ahead of time.
Here are some tips that you can use to plan a budget-friendly family trip this fall:
Prepare: The first thing you should realize is that a vacation is not an emergency and so you should not treat it like one. If you book your flight and hotel at the last minute, you will end up paying a lot more for the same destination and the same room then you would if you prepare ahead of time. If you and your family have a destination in mind, start searching ahead of time (2-3 months ahead of time is generally a good idea). This way you can check out any special deals and promotions, and you can also compare prices. Many resorts offer discounted inclusive package deals for the Fall season, but you need to book in advance if you want to avail the good prices.
Avoid Popular Destinations: We know this is not something most travelers want to hear, but if you want a budgeted vacation, it is generally a good idea to avoid popular destinations. This does not mean you go to some run-down, boring place that has nothing to offer. There are many gems out there that are yet to be discovered. There are yet others that are not that crowded in the Fall. For example, instead of Key West or the Treasure Coast in Florida, you could consider resort areas along the Eastern coast of the Carolinas and Georgia. You will have the same experience, fewer crowds, great weather and the cost will be much less.
Time to travel: Do not travel in summer because this is the peak travel season and everything from airfare to hotels is available at a premium price. The best time to travel is beginning of autumn where you can get great discounts. However the more flexible you are, the more likely that you will be able to get the best discounts and travel packages.
Airbnb: Anyone who travels today for a vacation should be familiar with Airbnb. This global rental agency allows you to pick the place where you want to stay at significantly lower costs than any hotel. You can visit the Airbnb website, pick the place you want to visit, state your budget, and it will list all the places that are available. You get to know the amenities available and also read the reviews. Because most Airbnb rentals also offer a kitchen you can buy your groceries, store them in a fridge and cook whatever you want, again saving more money. Airbnb accommodation rates are much cheaper than hotels, and you can sometimes get very good rates if you’re traveling off-season or on weekdays.
Uber/Lyft: if you do not take your car on vacation, your next best option is to rent. However, these days, car rentals are not cheap. But another economical option that is becoming very popular these days is Uber or Lyft. As long as you do not use this ride-sharing transportation during peak time, you will pay considerably lower than a cab. Plus, you will know the exact price before you even get in the car. This is a definite way to save money, but you will need to download Uber/Lyft app on your mobile phone.
Airlines: The most expensive part of a vacation is the airfare. If you plan to travel as a family, it might be a good idea to look up low-budget carriers and book at least several months in advance. Travel light so you do not pay for excess baggage. The two best days to get relatively cheap fares are Tuesday and Wednesday.
Travel by car: If you have time and love to drive, there is no better way to travel than your car. It is the least stressful way to go on vacation and also the most cost-effective. You can stop along the way at motels and enjoy the countryside. Even though you have to pay for gas, your entire family can travel at one price. With all the hassles associated with airlines, nothing beats a vacation by car, as long as you don’t have to cross the ocean.
Use these strategies and plan your family trip well in advance. That way you will save both time and money.