While I am on vacation I am letting my readers write for me for the next week. Thank you for your readership and comments, they always make my day!


For most families, times are tighter than ever before. The idea of going on a family vacation in this down economy may not have even crossed your mind. But there’s good news. Taking a great, memorable trip with the family can be done on even the tightest budgets. The key is to make sure you follow these simple guidelines for saving money on a trip.

* Book your trip early—The longer you wait to book your vacation, the more expensive it will probably be. Your family can save a lot of money by booking early-bird rates. Flights are typically cheaper when you book early, and hotel rates are usually much more affordable. When you book your trip early, you also have a wider selection of flights, hotels, rental cars, and destinations to choose from. This keeps you from getting cornered into choosing a certain hotel or even a certain destination for your trip.

* Try to visit during low months—Every destination has peak months and low months. The peak months are the most popular times to visit. Of course, taking a trip during these months will cost more than usual. For example, taking a vacation to Disney World in July will cost more than visiting in February. If it’s possible with your family’s schedule, try to schedule your trips during low months. Your rates will be cheaper, and the destinations will be less crowded.

* Don’t assume packages are a good deal—The major travel websites always advertise package deals that include hotel, airfare, rental car, and other perks. Now, it’s easy to see the price tag on these bundles and just automatically assume they’re a great deal, but more times than not, that’s not the case. You need to do your homework. Compare rates for each individual item, and see if you can get them cheaper by buying them individually. Many times, you’ll be able to put together your vacation at a better price.

* Cook your own food—Most families forget to plan for the cost of eating while on their trip, or they underestimate how much their meals will cost. The truth is if you take your family out to eat 2-3 times each day you’re on vacation, you’ll find yourself spending hundreds of dollars just on food. One thing you can do to save a lot of money is to eat in. Choose a hotel room with a fridge, and visit the local grocery store to get what you need to make a quick lunch. You could save hundreds of dollars this way!

* Look for kids deals—If you have kids that will be travelling with you, look for special deals that reduce their costs. For example, many hotels have “Kids eat free” deals. Taking advantage of this offer could save you hundreds of dollars on the cost of taking your kids out to eat on your trip. Many popular activity destinations also offer discounts and freebies for kids. For example, some ski resorts have “Kids ski free” or “Kids ski half price” specials that they run from time to time. Many museums also offer free kids entry, and museum visits are always fun and educational. Search out these deals, and save a bundle on your next family trip.

* Consider taking a road trip—There’s something about a road trip that creates a bonding experience. Road trips are memorable. They let you get off the beaten path and visit cool places you may not be able to fly to. Chances are there are some good road trip destinations within a few hours of your home. Search around online to find the best destinations, and then you can pack up the car and hit the road. A road trip can be thousands less than a traditional vacation as you don’t have to pay for flights and a rental car.

Who says you have to spend a lot of money to have a fun trip with your family? If you stick to these tips, your family vacation won’t empty out your wallet, and you’ll still have a great time!

What are some other money-saving tips you’d add to this list?

John Smith is a freelance writer and manages an online nursing scrubs store located at NursingUniforms.net

Photo courtesy of The DreamSky


  1. Jill // Friday, May 14, 2010 3:44:00 PM  

    pack water rather than buying bottled or pop for the trip. I have some gallons frozen in the freezer that work in a cooler and by day 3 are providing even more water.

    Pack water for pets! Not only will it save buying water for the pets, you'll go easy on their digestive systems.

    If you stop at small old fashioned gas stations (hard to find in some areas) that are more repair shop than convenience store, there is no temptation to load up on junk food.

  2. Judy // Sunday, May 16, 2010 7:28:00 AM  

    Pack food!

    If you're driving at the very least your first meal could be carried along. Cooler in the car....

    I also like to pack away some bar type product - for when it's not quite mealtime but your kids think they're starving.


  3. jan // Monday, May 17, 2010 2:44:00 PM  

    try taking a skillet along with you for making easy meals in the hotel rooms....it is amazing how many things you can make on a skillet from b-fast to dinnertime. And let's face it...hot meals always taste better than cold (unless its 100 degrees out and you are visiting the desert)