Family vacation in a budget
The family vacation is a time to bond with your loved ones to enjoy and appreciate newfound times of closeness while also exploring new places and adventures. The memories of these vacations will stay with you for years to come and give your children special moments they’ll treasure forever.
You can choose to drive cross country and see the quirky roadside attractions such as the largest ball of yarn or the corn museum gallery. Some don’t consider this as a real vacation. After all, being stuck in an automobile for most of the journey can rear some real family strife!
You could also book a family cruise or fly to Mexico to spend time at a resort, but this can get costly, and with all the activities they have for children, the bonding they were looking forward to won’t happen.
For the family on a budget, the concept of a memorable and fun-filled vacation may usually seem out of reach. That’s just not true. There are several ways you can have a terrific family vacation while still on a budget. You don’t need to compromise fun due to lack of money. There are all sorts of vacations that can be exhaustively enjoyed within almost any budget plan.
While traveling is good for the economy and for the soul, it can be hard on your wallet. As a matter of fact, AAA estimates that a family of four needs to keep at least $250 per day in the budget plan for meals, lodging and automobile travel expenses. And the figure doesn’t include the staple of family vacations like extra entertainment activities. As usual, the best way to keep the expenses down is to plan ahead and make informed choices.
So where do you begin?
You begin with family members’ input, a survey of your resources, and a well-thought out strategy.
Always dreamt of going to the Disney World? – YES you can!
Think the Caribbean vacation is out of reach? – It’s not!
Then what are you waiting for? Read on!
SAVING FOR YOUR VACATION
There are several effective and reliable ways to save for your family vacation. When you spend 40 hours a week slaving at your job, you deserve to have some time to escape the rat race, relax and unwind, and enjoy with your family.
Unless you’re wealthy, you’ll need a plan for saving the money you need. While this may seem like a simple proposition, some people find it challenging to lay aside some money each pay period. The trick here is discipline and self-control.
Open a separate savings account specifically meant for your vacation getaway money. If your employer provides direct deposit, you can usually define a certain amount of money be put into this account. Some banks will schedule an automated direct transfer to your savings account just like they do it for your EMIs’ if you don’t have direct deposit or if you are unable to deposit money into two separate accounts.
Take a look at the amount of money your family spends weekly or monthly on household entertainment and fast food restaurants. Then cut a percentage of that amount, saving the remainder for your trip. To ensure that a pending vacation doesn’t become a joy-buster, look around for freebie and reduced-cost entertainment alternatives to enjoy during the months prior to you depart.
Another good way to save money is to save your change. Use cash; resolve to only use paper money. The change you get, put it aside at the end of each day. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it can accumulate.
One household reported that they maintained a “vacation container” in a convenient place and each member of the family would deposit change and the occasional dollar bill into it. When they emptied the container and counted it, they had actually managed to save approximately $5,000, sufficient for them to enjoy a tropical getaway!
While you may not have that much in your change jar, emptying it at vacation time can still mean additional cash or that little boost you need to go on your dream vacation.
Involve your children in the saving venture. This way you can also teach them the valuable lessons of saving and budgeting money.
Look for other means to add additional cash to the vacation chest. One household would conserve aluminum cans and take them to the recycling plant periodically for money. Throughout the course of one year, a family I know managed to accumulate an additional $1,000 for their vacation.
You can have a garage sale to make additional vacation money as well. There are plenty of opportunities out there available to contribute to your vacation savings. You just need to think out of the box and generate that any extra money you get that will go towards your family vacation fund.
You also need to budget realistically. Vacations need not be expensive. Finalize the budget and then stick to it. If you’re driving, set a fixed cost. For instance an amount of $150 each day, Include all of your expenses, gas, meals, admissions, special activities, etc. Involve your children in the process while doing so. Show them that saving money on one day allows them to go to a water park on another day. Be imaginative.
To save money, you can eat just one meal in a restaurant per day. For the other two, prepare your own food and either consume in the hotel room or have a picnic. Take turns allowing the kids choose the sort of food they want to eat and, if you are really adventurous, the restaurant every day. This way, the children will feel important and it will also reduce possible arguments.
A good point to additionally keep in mind when determining how much you can afford to spend on a vacation getaway is to ensure that you take into consideration various other periodic expenses that may be waiting for you when you return, such as back-to-school costs, holiday expenses and next year’s tax obligations.
That’s why a separate account for your vacation savings. In this way you have your vacation money separate from your everyday money and won’t have to stress about expenses when you get home from your trip!
The next secret to a successful getaway vacation on a budget is to plan
BEGINNING YOUR VACATION GETAWAY PLAN
The very first thing you must do is plan early. Spontaneity works well for day trips, but is not as effective for longer rides. By planning early, you will certainly find cheaper fares and more readily available accommodations.
You can also have the opportunity to save any additional funds you may need, perhaps consist of extended invitations to other family members, and get together all the paperwork you might need if traveling abroad.
While planning, it’s an excellent idea to stay flexible in your desires. Flexibility equals maximum enjoyment for everyone. This is particularly true if you have special needs due to a disability or are taking along teenagers and children who will want to do various things.
Get your children involved as well. This will not only make them a lot more enthusiastic about the trip, but they can give their input into what sorts of activities they wish to do and what sorts of activities they would love to do as a family. They’ll be far more thrilled when they are fully involved in deciding where the family will be vacationing, so be sure to get their opinions as well.
You probably already have some sort of idea regarding what you’ll be able to afford when taking a vacation. If you do have a specific number in mind, this makes it a lot easier to select a destination. You can research what’s available in your price range and choose the trip that will best fit your family.
If you don’t have a specific number in mind, make a list of your dream vacations. Include those places you have always intended to go as well as places you believe would fit the individualities of your family. See what these kinds of vacations will cost, and then choose the one you think you can save for or pay for to take as soon as possible.
The Internet is an essential tool to do this. There are many travel websites that offer vacation getaway packages for specific destinations.
When you use these websites, they can offer you best prices for various destinations, however they can also provide valuable suggestions for where you can go as well as activities that are available and ratings from various other travelers who have actually taken the same vacations.
There are web sites offering services that usually allows you to name a price you’re willing to pay for flights, hotels etc., however you have to take what they offer you if they accept your price. For instance, you may want to pay $100 for a $200 airline flight, but they may accept your price only if you’re willing to take the redeye in the middle of the night. If this is something you can live with, by all means, book it.
Flexibility is the key!
You have to decide if you are flying to your destination or driving. There are several airlines that are low-cost when you fly during specific times. Once again, you need to be flexible on departure dates and times.
You additionally have to select a time frame for your vacation. Again, if you are flexible on departure dates, you’re more likely to get a better bargain. Work constraints may not allow you to alter your vacation getaway dates, yet if possible, it’s best to have a general idea instead of a rock solid date.
Try to travel on days other than Friday, Saturday or Sunday which are the busiest traveling days of the week. You can firm up plans later, if required.