Let’s face it, traveling is expensive, but there are ways to help cut costs. Some experiences will be worth the splurge and others will not be. Only you can determine that for your family, because we all have different interests, views, etc. I try to get the most for our money on every single trip we take. Some trips we keep it very simple and they are just as fun. Here are a few tips and tricks we have found that can help save some money when traveling.
Research, research, research!
1. Ask the Locals and Those with Experience
It is always a good idea to ask someone who is local or has been there before. They may have great suggestions on what to see, where to eat, what they think is a waste of time, etc. My husband is great at asking his co-workers and other people he knows (and some people he doesn’t). We have had some great advice and suggestions. Some suggestions only cost the gas money to get there!
2. Compare Prices on Flying, Hotels, Rentals, Driving, etc.
I personally spend a lot of time comparing the basic cost of each trip. I am one of those people who actually enjoy it! If you are really on a tight budget, make sure you add in gas and fees when pricing hotels, flights, etc. Do not just rely on websites like Expedia, etc. Look for coupons if you are interested in using Lyft or Uber. We actually ended up staying two nights at a Disney World Resort recently because it ended up saving us a little bit of money.
Also, if you do not live too far from the airport, the tickets may be cheaper if you purchase them in person rather than online. I have not done this, but next time we consider flying I will.
3. Checkout Coupon Websites
There are coupon websites where you can purchase discounted travel packages, airport parking, admission to events, etc. We have used it for airport parking for years and it’s been a great way to save money. I have a friend who uses these websites frequently for discounted travel packages and that is basically how she travels the world.
**The travel packages tend to be during the countries/areas off-season, but I have been told that it is still 100% worth it.
4. Pack Light
Before kids this was easy for me, but now with kids it is a bit more challenging. However, with each trip I get better and better. Plus, you do not want to waste money by checking a lot of your luggage when flying or paying the fee if your luggage is over the weight limit. Have a detailed packing list. Determine if you can stop at a store when you reach your destination. Even if we are driving, we still try to pack light and shop at a store when we get to our destination. This mostly applies for diapers, wipes, and groceries for us.
Click here to see our packing lists to help with your next trip!
**When cruising I still pack light compared to some, but overpack compared to others. However, you can not count on your cruise ship or ports having what you need. Even if the ship or ports do have it, you will likely be paying much more.
5. Eat the Free Hotel Breakfast
Definitely try and book a hotel that includes breakfast. It will be one less meal you will need to worry about planning and budgeting for. We tend to eat around 7:00am before we are ready to leave for the day. It is nice to be able to bring breakfast up to our room or just go right down and eat there.
Some hotels offer a special hour in the evening, typically Monday through Friday, where they offer free snacks, appetizers, or even lights dinners. Plus drink specials are sometimes offered too!
6. Pack a Lunch and/or Dinner
Since we eat breakfast early, we typically eat lunch around 11:00am and we are able to just eat in the hotel room. Other days we get back to the hotel room early enough to eat dinner there and just have lunch out.
I’m not saying take and hoard food, but take a few slices of bread from the hotel breakfast to use for sandwiches or a few pieces of fruit for snacks. Though, if you have a need for a lot of bread just stop at a local grocery store and buy a few loaves.
**Some hotels near Walt Disney World do not let you take any food out of their breakfast room.
7. Lookup Places to Eat Before Your Trip
If you look up places you would like to eat at with your family, you will be able to have better idea how much you realistically need to budget for. You will also find out what places are just way out of your budget.
Do not forget to include trips to local coffee shops, bakeries, ice-cream parlors, etc. if those are places your family likes to go. We love going to these type of places!
8. Check-out Local Websites/Visitor Centers
What you decide to skip and not to skip is very personal for you and your family. I usually do most of the research of places to go and things to see. I only look into the places that at least one of us would be interested in and find out the cost for each one. We often skip things that are just too expensive for us. We also do not mind driving up to an hour or two away to see something that is worth it to us. Also, when it comes to once in a lifetime experiences the worth may outweigh the cost.
Remember, federal parks are typically free to visit, because well they are federally run.
There may be free events happening, like a car show or a festival. Farmers markets and flea markets are great to visit.
9. Look into a City Visitor Pass
This can be a great way to see a lot and save money. Very touristy, but still worth it! Some passes you can choose what places you go to. They may have a few different packages to choose from and they could be valid for more than a couple of days. Transportation is usually included to, which is extremely convenient.
10. Plan Ahead
This goes back other points above, but it is important enough to repeat. If you and your family are interested in seeing and experiencing a lot, and still want to keep it budget friendly, planning ahead is key for your trip. Even if you just have a vague plan, it is so much better than no plan at all.
What budget tips do you have? Share them in the comments below.