The kids are settled in to school but the craziness that can be the holiday season hasn’t yet started which means this is the perfect time to start planning next year’s family vacation. You might be thinking that October is a little early to start making plans for next spring or summer, but for families who need to travel on a budget, planning well in advance is one of the most important things you can do.
Planning your next family vacation now makes it possible for you to shop around and look for the best deal. You are likely to find discounts and special pricing offered at everywhere from hotels to theme parks as those businesses look to lock in visitors. Starting now also lets you decide the optimal time to take a vacation in your chosen location before you have to submit your vacation requests at the start of the New Year. This means you can pick the time that has the best value for the money rather than going whichever weeks you requested off last January.
Here are some other tips for planning the best possible family vacation on a budget.
Consider a Cruise
As more and more cruise lines have started catering to families, the deals for family excursions have never been better. While you might look at the price tag and swallow hard, cruises are actually a really great value for your dollar. Before you decide you can’t afford that 5 day cruise to the sandy beaches of Mexico and back, consider this. How much will you spend on hotels, food, entertainment, travel, activities, etc if you take a more traditional family vacation? When you consider all the small costs of that kind of vacation you may find that cruising actually costs you less in the long run.
Take a Road Trip
If cruising isn’t your thing, consider taking a good old-fashioned family road trip. While the costs for this kind of trip can add up fast, there are some things you can do to decrease how much you spend without diminishing your family’s fun. First, camp out instead of staying in hotels. Many campgrounds still only charge $20 or $30 a night which is significantly less than you will pay for even a cheap roadside motel. Second, don’t eat every meal out. If you are camping, bring a camp stove. You can easily make coffee, hot chocolate, oatmeal, and even eggs and bacon at your campsite before you head out for the day and a loaf of bread and some peanut butter and jelly can cut way down on your food costs. Third, find free or low cost attractions. There are so many interesting and entertaining things to do across the country and many of them cost little to no money. Seek out these attractions and you will have a fantastic time without breaking the bank.
Set a Souvenir Strategy
No matter where you go, take some time before you leave to talk about how you are going to handle souvenirs. Whether each person has a souvenir budget or you only choose ‘family’ type souvenirs like Christmas ornaments from different destinations, making this decision ahead of time will cut down on the kind of impulse buying that can break your vacation budget.
If you are looking for meals you can make for the road, be sure to check out some of these ideas to Fix Ahead Food for Your Summer Road Trip. For a list of recipes using your favorite Arizona grown foods, check out the recipe section on Fill Your Plate!
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