This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure here.
The tighter your budget is, the less likely you are to have extra funds for fun things like travel. It may be tempting to call going to Dairy Queen a vacation, but there are ways to plan a frugal vacation and still have a blast.
Keep in mind that being frugal doesn’t mean you don’t ever get to have fun. It just means you plan ahead and make the most of what you do get to do.
Ready to plan your vacation? Here are ways to save on travel.
My family recently went to Colonial Williamsburg for a couple of days. It was an amazing trip and everyone loved it. The one thing we didn’t love was the price of lunch. You must book restaurants well in advance so we grabbed an overpriced lunch from a grab and go type place. We learned our lesson. The rest of the trip, we took lunch in and had a picnic.
If you think you kids may be disappointed by not getting to eat in the park, grab a snack at the park or pack something extra fun in the lunches. They may be the perfect opportunity for everyone to get a Lunchable.
Whenever you are visiting a destination, pack everyone a lunch if you can. If the location doesn’t allow food to be brought in, leave to get lunch and then return.
The More the Merrier (or at least cheaper…)
Find a house you love but it’s too much? Invite another family to come along and split the house with you. Booking a six bedroom house will be cheaper per room than a smaller place.
More adults around also means you can trade off on babysitting, cooking, and cleaning.
Use Points for Hotels
If you travel fairly regularly or your spouse travels for work, pick one hotel chain and try to always stay there. You’ll rack up points which will allow you to stay for free and get added perks and discounts.
I travel often for workshops, so we are a Marriott loyal family. They are affordable, convenient and good quality.
Some credit cards will also allow you to use your points for hotel stays. If you pick this option, be sure to be pay your balance off every month. It doesn’t count as a free hotel stay if you are paying crazy amounts in interest on your balance.
Book Accommodations with a Kitchen
Back to that whole saving on food thing, you can save a ton by booking a hotel or house with a kitchen. You can prepare simple meals that you know your kids will eat. If you are able to buy the food on sale with coupons, that makes it even better.
Another tip: a washer and dryer is a huge added bonus, especially when you have small children.
Buy Souvenirs Beforehand
Those Mickey Mouse pencils that are $10 at the Park are $1 at the Dollar Tree. Before leaving for your destination, shop sales or head to the Dollar Tree for fun souvenirs. You can give them to your kids in the morning. They still get fun things and you save a ton of money. You can see more ways to save on a trip to Disney here.
Also, if you are heading to somewhere there will be costumes like Disney or Colonial Williamsburg, get them before you go. No one wants to argue with a 4 year old over why everyone else has an Elsa dress on for an entire trip. It’s not worth the $80 you’ll spend at the park.
Travel Off Season
So maybe your kids won’t have as much fun at the beach in January as they would in July. They will have as much in early June as they would mid July though. Compare rates for different weeks even in the same season. You’ll be amazed at the price differences.
Plan Far In Advance
They say the early bird gets the worm. In this case, the early bird gets the best deal. Pick where you want to go and then do your research. Usually the best deals only last 1-3 days, so you have to be ready.
For example, Colonial Willamsburg offers B1G1 tickets on Black Friday. If you know you are planning to go anytime within that next year, grab the tickets while they are cheap.
No one wants to load 4 kids in a car and keep them there for 8 hours. Dragging 4 kids through airport security, even worse. You’ll save time, frustration, and money by driving instead of flying. The younger your kids are, the closer of a destination you may want to pick.
You also may want to consider picking a destination closer to home if funds are extremely limited. You can use the money you saved in gas to do something fun when you get there.
Find Free Things To Do
There are a ton of FREE things to do in any city. This can be a great way to get more bang for your buck out of a trip. You can find FREE things to do in many cities here.
Look for Alternative Destinations
Don’t forget to look at state parks. You can camp or stay in a cabin for a great price. Many have hiking, swimming, canoeing, and more. It can be a great way to relax and enjoy the great outdoors for a lot less.
How do you save on vacations?
Planning a trip to Disney? See ways to save.