Travelling with kids can be expensive! Airfare alone could easily cost you a few thousand dollars, so it’s no surprise that parents are always looking for ways to save. Sure, staycations can be fun, but let’s be realistic, many people would much prefer to travel outside of their hometown to take a holiday. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered, here are 10 ways to save money on family vacations.
Choose your location wisely
When you’re planning your trip, where you go can make a huge difference when it comes to costs. For example, staying in Anaheim could be a good alternative compared to Los Angeles since accommodations are much cheaper but L.A. is only a 45minute drive away. Despite the high cost of airfare, a trip to Thailand might cost you less than a visit to Orlando since you won’t need to pay for daily admission to the different theme parks. Even staying outside of the main tourist areas in cities can save you a decent amount since you won’t have to deal with downtown prices.
Look for free (or almost free) things to do
From checking out exploring parks to attractions without an admission charge, every destination has free things to do, you just need to find them. Start off by checking out the local tourism board website as the odds are they’ll have a detailed list of free and affordable things to do. While you’re doing your research, see if the city you’re visiting has a museum pass or CityPASS which gives you admission to multiple attractions for one discounted price.
Pick family-friendly accommodations
If you want to save money on family vacations, then you need to be smart about your accommodations. Renting an apartment via Airbnb or a vacation home is an excellent alternative to hotels since they offer more space compared to a hotel. Another obvious benefit is the kitchen that’s included that allows you to prepare some of your own meals. That being said, there are many budget-friendly hotels that target families such as the Residence Inn brand where rooms come with a kitchen, and you get access to free breakfast. Since the Residence Inn is owned by Marriott, you should book directly at Marriott.com since they guarantee the lowest rate.
Be smart about which credit cards you use
Which credit card you use can help you save on your expenses. For example, if you’re flying with WestJet, and you have the WestJet RBC World Elite Mastercard, you get $250 WestJet dollars as a sign-up bonus and your first checked bag free for the primary cardholder and up to 8 bags on the same reservation. You also get an annual companion voucher that starts at $99. A family of 4 heading to Orlando from Vancouver could end up saving $1,000+. Even if you don’t fly WestJet, many of the best travel credit cards in Canada also come with a huge signup bonus and comprehensive travel insurance which could save a family $400 a year.
Set up price alerts
If you plan to fly, airfare will likely be your most significant expense, but instead of wasting hours of your time searching for the lowest price possible, set up a price alert instead. KAYAK, the world’s leading travel search engine will send you an email whenever there’s a price change on the route that you’re monitoring. Once you see a price you’re happy with, you can book your flights right away.
Consider a road trip
There’s no doubt that that flying can be expensive which is why families should consider taking a road trip. Obviously, you won’t be able to travel overseas, but you’ll be able to create different memories. With road trips, you get to set the pace and itinerary so you can stop wherever you want. Get the kids involved by having them pick some things that they want to see, so they always have something to look forward to.
Book a tour
Planning a trip can be quite intimidating for some people so it might make more sense to join a tour. Reputable tour companies such as Trafalgar, G Adventures, and Intrepid Travel have trips that are specifically aimed at families. What makes tours appealing is that there’s no planning on your end. You get an experienced guide, accommodations, transportation, and many meals included. Quite often, these guided excursions end up costing you less money compared to if you had booked everything on your own.
Visit the grocery store
Eating out every meal is a guaranteed way to blow your vacation budget which is why you need to make a trip to the grocery store as soon as you arrive. I’m not suggesting you need to cook every meal, but picking up snacks and drinks is an easy way to save money on food. Keep in mind that many grocery stores even sell prepared meals, so you can still have some nice lunches or dinners without going to a restaurant.
Use up your travel rewards
If you’ve been collecting points with one of the best travel rewards credit cards in Canada, then you might as well use some of your points to offset your travel expenses. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough points to redeem flights for your entire family, just claim what you can. If you happen to collect American Express Membership Rewards points, don’t forget that you can redeem your points towards any travel purchase which is convenient since you’re not restricted to a single airline or hotel chain.
Before we had kids, my wife and I would try to see 3-5 different cities in Europe during a two week holiday, but now that we have a daughter, that’s a bit ambitious. When you have kids, it makes sense to travel at a slower pace. Although you won’t get to see as much, you really get a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture. You’ll even end up saving some money since you won’t be travelling as much.