Guest post from Sarah of Mom With A Map:
Ah. Spring Break. Perhaps the most exciting and anticipated set of words in the English language. Though a week of rest was the original intention, most people currently associate the week with a busy travel schedule.
Despite being a fun week to look forward to, many stress about the cost involved with spring break. There’s no doubt about it, travel can be expensive. However, there are many ways to save money on family travel.
Here are 10 tips for making your spring break travel more affordable:
1. Shop prices:
Be smart when planning your travel — always compare rates. When booking airfare, we enter our information on several different sites.
Google Flights is a very helpful resource, but don’t forget to look at airlines that do not allow their rates to be shared on those type of sites. Also, check for a coupon code or discounts whenever the option appears on the screen.
Finally, consider driving. With gas prices low, the savings really adds up for a family!
2. Be flexible with dates:
You can often save hundreds of dollars by slightly altering your travel itinerary. For example, the last trip we booked, Monday would have been our ideal travel date. However, we saved so much money flying on Saturday AND we added more days to our vacation.
Whenever possible, avoid being locked into a specific date. Also, remember that you don’t need to be away the whole week.
3. Think outside the box:
Airlines, hotels, and rental car companies are smart — they look to profit. In other words, this isn’t their first spring break and they know how to optimize their results. Highly sought after locations often boast their highest rates of the year during spring break.
If you want to go somewhere but also want to save money, look for a unique spring break location.
4. Consider staying with friends and family:
Often lodging is one of the most costly aspects of travel — so instead, consider traveling somewhere you know people.
Staying with friends and/or family helps cut down on the expense of a vacation. Additionally, they are often able to offer great insight to food or attractions in the area. Avoiding touristy restaurants and amenities will also decrease your spending on a vacation.
5. Be smart with your lodging choices:
If staying with friends or family isn’t an option for your trip, carefully consider your lodging choice. Many hotels provide a free breakfast which can add up to big savings for a family over the course of a few days.
Likewise, you may pay a bit more upfront for a place with a kitchen, but you will see huge savings if you cook a few meals in the room instead of eating out.
6. Pack Travel Food:
Meals on a road trip or during an airport layover aren’t traditionally the best. Not only is ‘fast food’ not good for you, but it isn’t great for your wallet either. Why spend a ton of money on mediocre food? Similarly, a family of 4 can easily spend over $10 at a gas station just purchasing bottled water. Our family prefers to bring our own drinks, snacks and light meals from home rather than purchasing junk on the road. (If you’re flying, pack empty water bottles in your carry-on to fill up past the security check!)
7. Use Groupon to save big:
Before you travel, change your Groupon setting to the city you’re traveling to. Often you can find great deals on places you’re planning to go, or meals you’d enjoy eating.
Be careful not to purchase things you won’t use! Just because it’s a deal doesn’t make it right for you.
Even smarter, use Groupon to help you pick your destination. Specifically, many hotels offer great savings and can easily inspire a whole vacation.
8. Do your research:
There are some amazing FREE options out there — in fact, I’ve yet to travel to a city that didn’t have multiple free things our family wanted to do!
Use Pinterest to search for some activities you can do without spending any money. Try to fill your itinerary with as many free options as possible to save your budget for other things like lodging and food.
9. Look for any and all discounts:
Are you a member of AAA? A veteran? A teacher? A child under the age of 6? If you have anything going for you, figure it out and take advantage!
Look for restaurants where kids eat free on specific days of the week. Ask for a student discount. Often pre-purchasing tickets to attractions online will save you money (not to mention time.) Bottom line, don’t overpay for your ignorance!
10. Fund your vacations year-round:
Admittedly, if you haven’t started saving for this year, it’s likely a tad late. But NOW is the perfect time to begin for next year! Set aside small amounts of extra income each month to offset the chunk of money you’d like to spend during spring break.
Garage sales and consigning outgrown clothing are two great ways to begin your savings. You can also save any gift cards you receive throughout the year to use when you travel.
Spring break travel doesn’t need to break the bank. In fact, kids don’t always appreciate the over-the-top, extravagant trips. Some of my children’s best vacation memories come from our most simple vacations.
Sarah’s website is dedicated to documenting the tips and adventures of traveling with family. She wants to show her kids the world, and along the way encourage other families to do the same. She loves giving people insight and ideas for travel and showcasing her passion for family travel.
Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!