Family Vacation Budget Beach Fun

Family vacations are a great way to spend time with your family and create lasting family vacations, but family trips can get expensive fast! Vacations are a lot more expensive when you have to buy 3…4…5…6 of everything! I now know why my family of five always crammed into a studio hotel room and packed a cooler of sandwiches and snacks when we were younger!

Family vacations can get expensive fast but there are still several ways to make your next family vacation budget-friendly:

Choose Your Destination Wisely

Some destinations can be quite expensive and add up fast, and other locations will cost a lot less and have a lot of free or inexpensive activities nearby!

There are plenty of destinations that offer a lot of fun activities without costing a lot of money. State Parks are often a great family destination because camping or renting a cabin in a state park can be quite affordable and there’s a lot of outdoor fun to be had for free or cheap as well!

Choosing destinations that are not huge tourist areas and are widely known is a great way to save money on family travel. Sometimes just renting a house on a lake is just as fun as hitting up Orlando’s many attractions, and it’s a lot more restful!

Also, often times that house rental will come with kayak rentals, fishing poles, and other activities built in, so there’s plenty to do without putting in too much effort!

Campgrounds are another great option for family travel and don’t worry many of the best campgrounds will have plenty of cabins to rent and some will even have kitchens and bathrooms included! Also, campgrounds will often have pools (fun ones with water slides!), playgrounds, lakes, boat rentals, jumping pillows, mini-golf, general stores, and much more!

Choosing the right location is the first step in saving a lot of money on family travel!

Go Against the Trends

Going against the trends is a great way to save money on family travel.

Is everyone renting a house off Airbnb and VRBO? Gather your family together and rent out cabins at a campground.

Is everyone renting cabins and trailers at campgrounds and camping? Book a standard hotel room.

Sometimes going against the grain can be helpful for saving money in your wallet. I’ve noticed lately that so many standard hotel rooms have been dirt cheap because so many people are renting houses and opting for more space. I’ve also noticed that lately renting a house can get expensive depending on a variety of factors, so sometimes it’s just cheaper and easier to rent a standard hotel room, especially if you are going to be in it much.

Pay attention to the trends… and then do the opposite.

Travel During Off-Peak Times

Similar to going against the trends, is traveling during off-peak times. School breaks and holiday weekends are the most expensive times to travel, so try to pick dates that are not as popular.

Additionally, consider traveling during weekdays instead of weekends, as hotels and airlines often offer lower rates during the week. Also, there are often a lot of weekday rates at popular attractions so you save more all around!

Plan Ahead and Book Early

If you plan your family vacation in advance, you can take advantage of early bird deals and discounts and a local travel agent would be a great person to help! A travel agent will also know the area and book things for you as well! Bonus, most travel agents are completely free and get paid through the services they book for you! Also, if you need to cancel last minute for any reason or have problems with your plans, a travel agent can assist you easily!

Another perk about planning and booking your trip early is that you can properly save for it and even pay it off in monthly or quarterly amounts!

Do the Opposite and Book Last Minute

Sometimes, booking a vacation at the last minute can be quite expensive but other times you can get some great deals! I find that hotels are usually the cheapest roughly 48-72 hours before a trip, but if you wait too long, it may be booked or go up in price!

It’s risky to book at the last minute, but there are still a lot of great travel deals to be had, especially if you are driving to a destination! (Flying is a different story, you’ll want to book those fights at least six weeks out because last-minute flights are rarely cheap!)

Choose Free or Low-Cost Activities

There are so many free and low-cost activities available like hiking, playgrounds, beaches, national parks, riding bikes, and more.

However, if you don’t qualify for any discounts, getting a family membership to a local attraction with reciprocal memberships is a great idea.

For example, I got a family membership at my local zoo for my family of four for $75 for a year of free admission. However, it also came with an AZA reciprocal membership which means that I can visit many different museums and zoos for 50% or 100% depending on the location.

I actually went to the Museum of Science in Boston and showed my AZA membership card. I received 100% free admission through my local zoo membership. Had I gone to the Museum of Science and just showed up as a family of four at the gate, I would have paid $106 for my family. However, my $75 AZA membership paid for itself, and then some just with that one visit to the Museum of Science! I also can visit my local zoo whenever and use the same membership card to many other museums and attractions!

I highly recommend looking into using museum reciprocal benefits. It makes so much sense for families, especially if you travel a lot or have a lot of great local options to choose from!

Also, there are many museums, zoos, aquariums, and other attractions that will offer a lot of low-cost options. Many will offer free or cheap admission with EBT or snap benefits as well as discounts for military families with the Blue Star Museums program.

You can hit the reciprocal benefits tab on the top of this website to see a much of different programs and options!

Maximize Loyalty Programs and Credit Card Rewards

Many credit card companies have great travel reward programs and loyalty programs! If you spend a lot monthly with credit cards or travel often, loyalty and reward programs may be a great option for you!

Many credit cards offer rewards points that can be redeemed for flights or hotel stays, but not all credit cards are equal! You may need to do a lot of research to see what programs are the best for you!

However, if you love to travel with a certain airline or hotel exclusively, it may be a no-brainer to join their rewards program!

Save on Food

One of the biggest expenses for a family vacation can be food and beverage. My mom would pack a cooler before our trips because the stuff in our fridge would go bad when we got home and we wouldn’t need to buy stuff out as much! Eat before you head out for a day instead of buying three meals out! Also trying to eat a later lunch, and then just eat ice cream for dinner!

There are actually a lot of different ways to save on food, and being creative can save a lot of money!

Also, look for hotels that offer free breakfast and other perks! We once stayed at a hotel that also offered free dinner on the weekends too! It saved A LOT of money! Also, try to book a place that will have a fridge so you can head to the grocery store for some essentials for your trip!

Family vacations can get expensive fast but they can be affordable if you plan properly with some easy money-saving tips!

How do you make family vacations so cheap and affordable?

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