Go somewhere within driving distance. If it only takes a few hours to get there by car then you are saving so much on the cost of flights, rental cars, and baggage costs at the airport. Especially if you have a larger than normal family. Check out the Internet for destination spots that are within driving distance from where you live. National parks, monuments, beaches and historical sights are a great place to start. And choose something with an outside feature. If you're choosing touristy locations then expect to rack up the dollars. The temptation is usually too hard to resist.
Go somewhere before the actual travel season starts. Usually motel prices are lowest before Memorial Day Weekend and as soon as the vacation season hits, prices double or triple. We managed to get a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo for 50% off because of the off-season. Motels are just trying to stay afloat during the colder months.
Ask about discounts when booking your accommodations. Some motels offer discounts from Sunday -Thursday's. Some offer discounts if you stay a certain number of nights. Some have online deals that they don't freely let you know about unless you ask. I almost paid full price for the room we are in this week because I was too intimidated to ask about the deal I saw on the Internet (and they didn't offer to me). But the minute I asked, I got it. They aren't going to just offer up a discount if they don't have to.
This is nicer than our actual house.
Choose accommodations that have free activities. Is there a pool, game room, or fitness center that you can use for free? Are there free games, movies or puzzles offered to guests? Chris is spending some of his days at a conference while we are here and I'm with the kids. Totally works for us. I like being independent and he likes deep study and learning. We'll meet up later. In the meantime I have kids to entertain and I don't want to spend any money. We don't have a pool or cable TV at home and can I just say Yippee? Because it's a special treat for the kids, we've spent all day bouncing between Nickelodeon and the pool. Next we'll hit the beach and search for driftwood and shells. After that, we'll take a hike at a local scenic state park. How much is this costing me? Nada! How much fun are the kids having (even the teens). A ton!
Heading down the elevator to the pool.
Always get a room with a kitchen. Seriously. If we ate out for all the meals while we are here it would cost more than our condo. It's at least $60 for us to eat one meal out. My kids eat alot and I'm not willing to eat at McDonald's for every meal. I brought easy to prepare foods and we get to eat on our own schedule without fighting the crowds for a table at an overpriced restaurant. I'm saving at least $700 dollars on meals and I only spent a little under $80 to bring our own food.
Pay Cash! It's just not even worth it to take a vacation that you'll be paying interest on for the next 2 years. Don't do it. If you can't pay for it, you don't really need it. Save up, use your tax return, make cheap choices...whatever it takes. Vacations are fun but they really aren't a need. So make sure your financial priorities are in place.
I hope these ideas help as we all get ready for summer vacations!
For more great tips go visit WFMW at We Are That Family.