If you’re willing to do some preparing, have some discussions, and make a few budget-friendly changes to your typical travel plan, you can have a memorable family getaway without burning a hole in your wallet.
Use these budget travel tips to treat your family to a truly memorable summer abroad – on a budget.
The first thing you can do to ensure that your next family vacation doesn’t break the bank is to travel off-season. For Europe, off-season means October through April. Hawaii’s off-season, on the other hand, is mid-April to early June, and September to mid-December, while Japan’s is late autumn through March.
To avoid taking your trip during pricey peak season, check with your local tourism office for your destination’s off-season.
Save on Your Flight
Another guaranteed way to ensure your family vacation doesn’t break the bank this summer is to save on flight costs. If you’re travelling to your destination by plane, you should either buy your tickets at the last minute (two weeks or less prior to departure) or plan well in advance (ten months to a year prior to your trip) in order to get the best possible deal.
What’s more, discounts abound on aggregator websites such as Flight Hub. While these might charge a small service fee, they compare flight itineraries from different airlines, so that you can get the best deal.
Discuss with the Kids
To make sure your littlest vacationers are ready for the travelling to come, you should discuss with them beforehand to make sure they’re clear on the travel plans at hand. Get their opinions – ask them where they’d like to go on vacation, or what they’d like to see. Paying for entrance to a fancy tourist destination, then finding out the kids aren’t the least bit interested, is frustrating and certainly not budget-friendly.
To help get their imaginations going, read a book or watch a movie about your destination with them. Try to find the kid-friendly side of every destination – dressing them up as a medieval knight or princess makes a trip to an English castle that much more fun!
Choose Accommodations Wisely
You can save a great deal of your vacation budget by choosing more affordable accommodations. For example, instead of splurging on a five star hotel, choose a local Bed & Breakfast. Not only will you save money, but you will get much more cultural experience.
To save even more, ask the front desk if they offer discounted rates for families or free meals for children.
Avoid Touristy Restaurants
Many restaurants frequented by tourists – those that offer English-speaking staff, feature multilingual menus, and sport signs that say “We Speak English” – will usually cost more than small, family-owned restaurants frequented by locals.
Look for small restaurants filled with local patrons, with short menus in the local language – these are almost guaranteed to cost you less money and offer you a better meal.
What’s more, you can skip the restaurant altogether by opting for a picnic lunch instead. Throughout most of Europe, ten dollars or less can buy you a full picnic lunch for two. Stock up on staples in your local grocery store and save a bundle!
To avoid pricey train or airport food, and keep hunger at bay while in transit, pack healthy snacks for yourself and the kids. A little preparation can go a long way in saving you money and keeping you from going hungry.
Beware of Car Rental Mistakes
If you’re renting a car at your destination, beware of the common rental care mistakesmade by many travellers. Avoid renting a car at the airport, since many Canadian and international airports charge “premium location fees” to onsite vendors.
Be sure that you’re clear on the fine print on your car penalties, and avoid unnecessary bells and whistles that can end up costing you a bundle. What’s more, don’t forget about car rental insurance – Desjardins offers a comprehensive Trouble-Free Option that gives you peace of mind, no matter your next family vacation destination.