Just because the economy is stuck in a rut doesn’t mean you have to be. Traveling and enjoying a vacation with your family once in a while is a leisure you shouldn’t have to give up. The benefits of travel and the bonds formed on family vacations are invaluable. However, to cut the costs of your vacation, you may need to switch up your travel routine a bit. Being creative and planning ahead can go a long way when it comes to affordable vacations. These five money-saving travel tips can really help keep your vacation in your budget—without sacrificing any of the fun.
If you can, travel by bus or train.
It’s no secret, air fare isn’t usually cheap. However, there are cheap alternatives to traveling by plane. One of the best and least expensive options is traveling by bus. Bus service between major east coast cities has become so popular that occasionally rates can be found for as low as $1! If you’re traveling to Boston or New York City, you’ll find plenty of low-cost train deals.
Train travel is also an inexpensive alternative. Most Amtrack locations offer large discounts, usually 50% the price of an adult ticket, for children ages 2-15. This kind of deal is something you’d never find on an airline. Plus, on a train you have much more space to move around, making the trip a lot easier if you’re traveling with restless kids.
Use public transit at your destination.
You can save a lot on travel expenses by picking a vacation destination that has a good public transportation system. Fortunately, most big cities in the U.S. do have very efficient public transit. Chicago, New York, and Boston, for instance, have very comprehensive subway and rail systems. Taking a cab or renting a car in cities like these can be astronomically expensive. Public transportation, however, rarely costs over a few dollars for a one way ticket to pretty much anywhere in the city. If you’re staying for a full week, consider getting a weekly pass to save even more.
Take advantage of package deals.
When you take advantage of package deals as opposed to buying everything individually, you always save money. If you really have to fly and are staying in a hotel, using websites like Expedia, Viator, or Orbit to get deals on airfare and hotel combinations can save quite a bit of money.
Most people forget about attraction packages when they’re figuring out travel costs. If you’re traveling with the family, it’s likely you’re going to be visiting quite a few attractions at your destination. This is where purchasing a Smart Destination’s attraction pass can save you lots of money. With a Go City Card, you can see all the best attractions for one low price and with one card. If you know ahead of time what you want to see, purchase a Go Select Pass for admission to your favorite attractions at a price that is guaranteed to be less than what you’d pay at the gate.
Rent an apartment (ditch the hotel!).
Instead of dishing out lots of money for a hotel, consider the ever-growing trend of renting out an apartment for your vacation. Apartment rentals can be much cheaper than hotels, particularly for families that would need adjoining rooms. Reputable apartment rentals can be found on websites like Homeaway, VRBO, and even Craigslist.
Staying in an apartment can actually enhance the quality of your vacation as well. You’ll have access to a kitchen and usually a laundry facility. Of course, you’ll also have much more space and likely be in a conveniently located neighborhood.
Make your own food.
If you have access to a kitchen or kitchenette, making your own food for some of your meals can save you on a lot of unnecessary expenses. Eating out, especially in touristy cities, can be extremely expensive. Instead, head to the grocery store when you first reach your destination and purchase a few staple items. Preparing an easy breakfast like bagels and fruit or making sandwiches to take with you for lunch will save you lots of money (the cost of a meal at a restaurant multiplied by the number of members in your family). It’s also usually a much healthier option than restaurant meals or fast food.