Vacation means different things to different people. For me, it is just an escape from the usual. Perhaps that is what allows me to create an affordable vacation without too much difficulty. Here are my top 10 tips:
- Vacations don't have to be far away. Look around your town or neighboring ones and hit the local tourist traps. Just think of all the money you'll save on gas and other travel expenses.
- Sign up for deal alerts and/or newsletters. I like an empty email box as much as the next person, but there are often great deals to be found on travel, hotels, and more. Sign up for the newsletters letting you know when those deals pop-up.
- Visit family and friends. My sister's husband used to be in the military. Our favorite vacation spot was always where they were stationed. We got to see some great sites and didn't have to pay for a hotel.
- Travel at "off" times. If you don't travel during peak vacation season you can rent a house for a week at a price that is comparable to what you'd pay for a day during peak season.
- Take your own food. Prices for food in tourist areas can be absolutely ridiculous. If you are staying in a hotel with a kitchen, cook some of your own meals. Also, be sure to take snacks along for the ride.
- Don't over plan. It is tempting to try to visit every park and attraction in an area when you travel, but it can be expensive and exhausting. Pick the places you most want to visit and take your time to explore them in depth.
- Skimp on souvenirs. You don't really need to spend that much money to remember your trip. Instead, take plenty of pictures and create a scrapbook as a family. If you do need to have souvenirs, then give each child a set amount of money to spend as they want. When it is gone, it is gone!
- Do your research. Before traveling, make sure you know where you're going and how you will get there. While getting lost can be an adventure, it also can be a valuable waste of money.
- Ask the locals. If you are traveling a decent distance from home, see if you can find some local people to give you input. They might know of a great hole-in-the-wall restaurant with amazing food and a reasonable price. They are also likely to know which tourist traps should be avoided.
- Play darts. When you can't decide where to go, take a map and toss a dart. (If you want to stay local, use a map of your state.) Set a budget, then spend time as a family researching the location and what you want to do there. Not only are you likely to discover an unlikely vacation spot, but you're also likely to create some great family memories - and isn't that what vacations are really about.
I wrote this blog post while participating in the Toyota Sienna and TwitterMoms blogging program for a chance to get a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.