The daily grind of work and school is bound to wear down on all members of your family eventually. That’s why it’s so important to make time for family vacations. Not only do these trips provide valuable time your family can spend together, but they also provide a much-needed mental break. Children and adults alike benefit from getting time away from their regular routines to rest and reset.
Start Planning Early
Spur-of-the-moment trips are not the best call for families on a budget. Though they can be exciting, they’re usually much more expensive. Between last-minute travel costs and poorly planned itineraries, you’re simply more likely to spend more on this kind of vacation.
Beyond the destination and dates, you should also plan out loose schedules for every day you’re away. Picking activities in advance allows you to scope out good deals, and can even get you discounts for some things. Plus, this will give you a good sense of exactly how much you’ll spend, saving you from vacation sticker shock.
Set Daily Spending Limits
For the trip itself, plan to give every family member a daily spending limit, and find a way to enforce it. Enemy of Debt suggests one of the easiest ways to do this is with dated cash envelopes. Everyone gets an envelope that has their spending money for the day inside. Once the envelope is empty, that’s it. You might even invest in a travel wallet for each person to stay organized, and it can help keep that cash safe.
It’s often difficult to stick to spending limits if you don’t anticipate everyone’s needs, so be sure to think of ways to have fun without breaking the bank. For example, kids are often easily entertained by daytime activities but become bored and restless once night comes. Bringing along a streaming stick with a strong data plan can solve this problem. Choose a TV stick device that’s versatile and user-friendly so you aren’t stuck with compatibility issues and frustrations at the end of a full day. Think through each day and each person to ensure contentment on all fronts.
Budget for the Whole Trip
Running out of money partway through the trip can throw a damper on things for everyone. After all, spontaneity is one of the most exciting parts of going on a trip. If something exciting comes up that your family wants to do, you’ll appreciate having some spare fun money on hand that can cover it. With that in mind, try to save this extra cash for the last few days of your trip. Multiple fun ideas are likely to come up, and you may only have the budget to cover one or two of them.
Here’s where your long-term planning can really kick in. Planning months in advance has two powerful advantages over the last-minute vacation: Forbes explains you can get great deals on hotel rates and ticket prices, so you can save up to make sure you can afford everything else. Remember, saving toward your trip is always easier if you have more time to do so. You’ll be able to set aside more money with less impact on your monthly budget.
As you plan your days and activities, contemplate your priorities. Is savoring the local cuisine more important to your family that taking in certain attractions? Or would you be better off staying in a vacation rental so you can do meal prep, saving money on food so you can see more sights? You might even want to save a spot in the car for a crockpot or picnic basket, so you can stretch your dollars without a lot of kitchen-oriented fuss.
There are plenty of ways to plan a great trip that doesn’t put your family’s budget at risk. Think through your plans, get organized, and stick to your priorities. This lets you save your loved ones (and yourself) from burnout while keeping your wallet happy.
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