Budget travel and family travel are usually considered as two polar opposites. And in some instances, this can be considered as the Bible truth. However, there are ways you can enjoy a family vacation on a shoestring budget. There are certain things you would need in order to pull this off: 1) your proposed budget, 2) a plan, and 3) each and every family member’s utmost cooperation. If you have all three, you can budget travel to almost any part of the world with your family in tow, have a grand time and still save some money on the side. Here are some tips on how you can pull this off.
1. Set aside a certain amount of money for your travels. This is necessary especially if you are planning to fly into your proposed destination spot. Aside from transportation costs, you would also need money for food, incidental expenses and of course, emergency money. The key here is to actually work within your budget, so setting up your budget proposal for the entire trip should really be first and foremost on your list. Once you have a proposed budget, it is easier to narrow down your choices of destination spots to go to, what kind of lodging establishments you can afford, the length of time you will be on this trip and modes of transportation you will use.
2. Even on a shoestring budget, you can take your family out of the country. You just need to research extensively the places where you can take them that you know for certain will not break the bank. More importantly, you will find things to do within that particular place that you know everyone can enjoy. Airplane fares are usually cheaper during the off tourist seasons, but there are some airlines that do offer discounted rates for group travelers. Book your airline seats several weeks in advance, if possible. The same goes when it comes to lodgings. Lodging establishments in various countries usually offer more than affordable rates when it comes to family or group packages after the tourist seasons end. Again, the key here is to book or reserve rooms early. Fortunately, many global airlines and lodging establishments can be accessed to from the web.
3. One of the best ways of getting family friendly travel and vacation discounts is to ask a travel agent to help you with your getaway plans. Although you can probably do most of the online research on your own, there are just some budget travel deals that only professional travel agents have access to. If you can find someone you can trust, tell him or her your proposed budget, and the location where you intend to take your family to. You can compare notes later on when it comes to budget constraints and destinations. However, it is important that you should have the last say in the matter. Try not to feel obligated to reserve or book seats or lodgings, especially when you do not like the area, price or locations that the travel agent is recommending.
4. You might also want to include the rest of your family when it comes to budget allocation. You might propose a vacation savings plan where you ask every member of the family to regularly contribute a little something to the pot. Or, you can ask your older kids to save up on their own incidental expenses (to buy souvenirs, trinkets or what-nots) during the entirety of the trip. Older members of the family (sister, uncle, grandparent, etc.) can pitch in by paying for food for at least one meal (or more!) or pay for entrance tickets to some of the locations you all want to go to. Allocate a small amount of money for your younger kids and tell them what their spending budget is. This is a good way of teaching them the value of money while keeping the purse strings tightly knotted.
5. Try to find lodgings that will allow you to store, prepare and cook your family’s own food. We all know how overpriced hotel meals are and dining out may not always be better or cheaper. Fortunately, there are some family resorts and inns that let their clients prepare their own meals. Make sure the rooms you will get have a refrigerator, a stove and a microwave that you can use. Once you have everyone settled in, go shopping for groceries. Not only is this a far healthier option, but you can also save a lot of money by closely monitoring your food expenses too.
6. Plan where you will take your family once you have chosen your destination. You do not have to set up a strict schedule as to where you should go and how many minutes you should stay in one venue. However, for the sake of shaving off a few dollars from your traveling expenses, you may want to know beforehand just how much you are bound to spend in one place, and stick to that budget. Some of the things you need to consider are traveling expenses; rates of entrance tickets; incidental expenses like money for snacks, sweets or water; and even shopping money for trinkets and souvenirs. You would need additional spending money if you are taking your kids on carnival rides or similar forms of entertainment. Naturally enough, there are various tourist spots that you can take your family in for free, but some of them may not exactly be that appealing to the kids or the grown ups, for that matter.
7. Encourage everyone to pack lightly. Traveling light has many advantages. First, this gives your family more mobility. This is great especially if the lodging accommodations are not exactly what you signed up for and you would rather find someplace else nicer or cheaper to stay. The same goes when it comes to finding a tourist spot to visit. Secondly, you do not have to worry about excess baggage if your family is indeed flying in or flying out of the country. Lastly, traveling light means you and the rest of your family members can take public modes of transportation, aside from taking the cab, or hiring a car. Cab fares may not seem much per ride, but expenses can pile up in a hurry especially if you are visiting several spots in one a day. Also, you need to contend with gasoline prices when it comes to hiring a car.