Save Money on Your Next Vacation

With three kids and two adults in our family we had to learn to save money on vacations. We are not fancy travelers but even staying in non-luxury hotels and eating three meals a day will quickly slash your budget. Add to it the treats, the local experiences, the little gadgets and souvenirs and you went through your savings quickly.

Check below six tips that can really help you cut the cost of your next vacation. Instead of putting so much money toward your travel expenses, you can save it or spend it on something that really matters to you.


1. Check out nearby airports.

Many mid-size cities have multiple airports. Using travel sites like Expedia you can click for different airport options in your area and see if this is an option that is available to you. It is a really nice surprise to see the difference in tickets’ cost.

Check for ticket rates departing from other airports in your area. For example, sometimes it’s cheaper for us to depart from LAX than from San Diego even considering the parking fee and travel time.

2. Plan to travel with carry-ons.

Learning to pack light can save you not only the headache of carrying heavy, huge suitcases in and out of shuttle, hotels, cabs – less the complaints from hubby! – but also save you big time in checked bags fees.

If your children are old enough for you to trust them pulling their own suitcase, consider giving each family member a carry-on and enjoy the shared responsibility! Our boys for example love having their own suitcase and taking care of it is fun for them.

3. Go on vacation with friends.

When travelling with a large group of family members or friends maybe renting a house, condo or even a suite with a small kitchen may be a better option for you.

It is a lot of fun to travel with good friends especially when they have kids that get along with your kids. Our recent trip to Sequoia was so much more fun because we had our great friends with us. Chantal and I had a break from taking care and spending time with the kids full time since they were playing non-stop with each other. On top of that, when you have a larger group you can get discounted rates you wouldn’t if you were alone.

Another great benefit of renting a condo or room with a small kitchen is that you can cook your meals and save immensely by eating in. Even if you only eat breakfast and a “before-bed-time” snack in your room you’ll be saving a ton of money that you can actually use towards something fun. If you want to spend that money while on vacation, put it toward something you’ll remember 10 years from now. That’s probably not going to be food! 🙂

4. Research for cheaper depart/return dates.

Calling the airline and asking what are the cheaper dates for their flights has always saved us hundreds of dollars on our tickets. Flying on busy days or on days professionals are flying in or out will not only raise your ticket costs but also make your experience at the airport worse. Research for options and you’ll love the results!

Don’t forget that the same applies to hotel rooms. Call your hotel options and ask if they offer lower rates if you check-in on a Sunday instead of Friday, for example. We saved significantly by checking in on Sunday afternoon and leaving the hotel on Friday by lunch time, when the weekend guests were just arriving. That also gave us a full weekend at home to catch up and get ready for back-to-school and work routine.

5. Can you travel out of season?

Off-peak travel seasons may not work if you have children, since school can be an issue. But if your kids are in the very early elementary school years or if you don’t have kids, the savings can be considerable. Hotel rooms, car rentals, and flights can all be much less expensive.

  • An airline ticket to Europe can be half the regular cost during certain times of the year, saving you hundreds of dollars on each ticket.
  • You will pay less for everything, from food to tickets on subways and museums and you’ll also have a nicer time since lines are shorter and locals are more patient.
  • Another great benefit is that in October or May you will be a lot more comfortable in places where summer temperatures can reach the 90s.

6. Enjoy your city or a nearby one.

You may be surprised how many French people have never been to Paris (which is a shame, hehe!). Or how many people from Arizona have never seen the Grand Canyon. Try looking locally for destinations. Have you fully taken advantage of what your area has to offer? Or a city that’s less than 2 hours away from yours?

Last year we enjoyed a “staycation” in San Diego during the summer to be able to save money for our Christmas trip to Rio.

I made a schedule to have fun 3 times a week by visiting the local parks, going to baseball games, meeting with friends for summer concerts, going to the beach twice a week, enjoying the pool at home with the kids by inviting friends over, going to the movies or just going on a bike ride and having a picnic lunch at our neighborhood park. The smallest things are so meaningful to the boys when we are fully present and they feel we’re truly  giving our time to them.

This year we’re planning to explore Los Angeles and show the boys great places that they’re ready to visit. And, while you are here download this free packing checklist printable.

I really hope these tips to save money on vacation can help you create a beautiful time for yourself and your family and save you not only headaches but also, who knows, save enough for another vacation!

Find beauty in the ordinary and live an extraordinary life!

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