With the end of summer approaching quickly, many families are looking to squeeze in one more family vacation before the school year begins. After all, there’s only one time of year when our demanding schedules are kept at bay and the weather is willing to cooperate with our whims. The summer months are the perfect time to make some lasting memories, so it’s wise to squeeze as much quality time as possible out of their final days.
But with the bills from the kids’ summer camp rolling in and back-to-school expenses looming, it’s a good idea to plan your last trip as frugally as possible. Take a look at the seven tips below to make sure that your family’s last hoorah for the summer is fun and cost-effective:
Flying with family can get expensive fast, so take advantage of one of the easiest money-saving tips out there: flying mid-week. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the most costly days to travel, so take advantage of the kids’ time off from school and book your flights for one of the other four days of the week when it’s less pricey.
Be flexible with travel dates
It might sound strange, but moving your family’s flights just one or two days from your intended travel dates could make a big difference in how much they cost. When you’re sketching out the days you’d like to fly, be a little flexible with which exact days you plan to be in transit on; doing so could save you big bucks.
Research free attractions and events ahead of your trip
No matter which city you plan to travel to, there are bound to be free attractions and events to keep you and your family busy while you’re on vacation. Do some Internet research ahead of your trip to find concerts, museums, festivals, and other free entertainment you and your clan will enjoy. Not only will you end up having a great time, but you’ll be capitalizing on all the freebies summer has to offer.
Use public transit
Renting a car or taking cabs are both expensive ways to get around your vacation destination, and unfortunately, a lot of people don’t investigate more frugal options. Look into the public transit system in the city you’re traveling to – buses, subways, light rail, trolleys, etc. Again, this serves a dual purpose: you’ll see more of the city you’re visiting and save some money to boot!
Consider renting an apartment or condo
Hotels are convenient, but their ease of use comes at a serious price. A much less costly option is to rent an apartment or condo from a local who’s out of town, especially if you have a large family. Another bonus to renting a residence is that you’ll have access to a full kitchen, which will come in handy with our next tip:
Prepare your family’s meals and snacks at home
One of the biggest budget busters, when you’re traveling, is restaurant meals, so to minimize this expense, try to prepare as many meals and snacks at home as you can. If you’re worried that this strategy will detract from your relaxation time, make a plan ahead of time to eat out just a few times. This way, the experience will still be special, but you won’t be spending an arm and a leg. Many hostels and guesthouses even offer a shared kitchen, which you can stock with local groceries and use to prepare simple meals – major savings.
Befriend a local
Searching for frugal meals and entertainment on your own is always good fun, but it’s the locals who know where to snag the best steals and deals. Shortly upon arrival, try chatting up a full-time resident to get some insider information about what’s cheap – and fun! – to do and see in the area.
The takeaway: booking an enjoyable getaway for your family doesn’t have to be expensive. With a little-advanced planning, creativity, and the tips above, you can enjoy a relaxing end-of-summer fling with the people you love most. Don’t wait until it’s too late!