Written by Brad Merrill. Brad is a father and husband who writes about money saving strategies when it comes to travel, daily expenses, and technology.
Is a summer vacation on the books for you and your family when school lets out? Nothing relieves stress like a fun and relaxing warm weather getaway, but nothing can bring that stress back quite as quickly as a post-vacation credit card bill. If you want to keep your household budget intact, check out these five tips for saving money on a summer family vacation.
1. Investigate Airfares
Use BookingBuddy or TripAdvisor to track airfare prices, and sign-up for email updates from your preferred carriers, as well - many of them offer excellent one-day sales on a regular basis. When to actually book your tickets is always a challenge, so investigate any price match programs that refund your costs if you find a cheaper fare. Just understand that in these cases, the lower-price fare must identically match the one you paid in order to get the discount.
2. Use Deal-of-the-Day Websites
Worried about restaurant costs or the price of entertainment options? Hit up websites like Groupon, Living Social, and even Half Off Depot to score vouchers of 50% off or more to local venues at your destination. Just enter the zip code you're traveling to and start investigating. Many of these deals have expiration dates, though, so be sure they line up with your itinerary. If for some reason you can't use a voucher, many deal-of-the-day sites return what you paid to your account so you can use it for a future offer.
3. Cut Your Souvenir Costs
Not many people think of the cost of souvenirs when budgeting for a vacation, but they can certainly add up. Failing to address this means not only lugging a ton of trinkets home, but paying top-dollar for all of them too. Instead, establish a budget beforehand (even broken down per child), do your "window shopping" at the beginning of your trip, and save the actual buying until the last day. That way, you can make the most cost-effective choices for both you and your family.
4. Save on Car Rental Fees
Many credit cards offer free car rental insurance, so don't take the bait when a rental rep implores you to sign up for it - just be sure to confirm with your credit card company that you are in fact covered before booking your car. Also, see if you can use your personal auto insurance policy when driving and skip that added expense, as well. And, of course, don't forget to fill up the tank before you return the car.
5. Enlist the Help of the Locals
Whether it's with the hotel's concierge staff, housecleaning workers, or reps at local convenience stores, try to be talkative and engage them. These are the folks with inside information that can save you money on a variety of expenses such as restaurants, tours, and out-of-the-way, budget-friendly entertainment ideas.
If you see some savings as a result of these tactics, tally them up. Then, direct that amount into a separate bank account earmarked for your next vacation. Or, if you're struggling at all with your personal finances, use them to help out. The usual suspects are credit card debt, retirement savings, and college education funds for the kids. Saving on a summer family vacation is great, but if you can use those savings to benefit your financial picture in the long-run, all the better.
What ways can you think of to save on a summer family vacation?