The staycation is OVER this summer. Or at least is is for my family. Having two little ones, I’m always on the hunt for ways to save a few bucks – but this summer I’ve discovered the secrets to save up to $1,000 on your vacation.
When trying to think of when and where to go, travelers should keep in mind the rules of supply and demand – when demand exceeds supply (as it typically does in popular summer vacation destinations), prices go up. Therefore, if you’re dates are flexible, use tools like Kayak Explore and Priceline.com to try and determine when and where flights will be the cheapest. Kayak Explore helps you “brainstorm” where to go by showing you where you can find the lowest prices on flights from your destination. Then, you can use Priceline to search for your flights. With the average domestic airfare costing around $364, give yourself a budget of $200-$250/ticket and with a family of four you’re looking at between $400-$600 in savings by shopping smart.
Another tip is to use Google Maps to pick a destinations away from the tourist spot. For example, as a New Yorker, a popular place for my friends and me to go is Provincetown, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. Instead I recommend looking up destinations 20-50 miles away, like Eastham, Mass. You can save a ton on money by doing this because the less popular destinations don’t charge as high of a premium to stay there.
For road trips, it may not be a huge surprise, but using sites like gasbuddy.com can be very helpful in finding the cheapest prices on gas along your route. Driving is always cheaper than flying, but using gasbuddy helps you save even more by keeping you organized.
So that covers when and where to go and how to get there.
Accommodations are one of the most expensive parts of a vacation besides flying, so on your summer vacation, think outside the hotel box by staying in vacation home rentals. This one can be a huge cost saver for families and it’s the way I prefer to travel with the Hubs and Littles.
With sites like HomeAway.com or VRBO.com you can book an entire house instead of a tiny 300-square-foot room, which also has built in savings like kitchens and washer/dryers. For a family of four, you can buy groceries for quick meals like breakfast and lunch (which typically cost around $35-$50 per meal at a restaurant) versus eating out every day and easily expect to save a couple hundred dollars over the course of a weeklong vacation. Plus, since vacations are all about spending time with family and friends, with vacation rentals, you can invite them along and share the space as well as the costs.
Booking a home with multiple bedrooms, is significantly cheaper than booking several hotel rooms – plus everyone gets to spend more time together under one roof! Just as a quick example –going back to Eastham, Massachusetts, you can rent a 3-bedroom vacation home for $340/night, but if you were to try and get the same amount of rooms at The Four Points Sheraton Hotel you’d have to pay $720/night ($240/room)!
While using the kitchen is obviously the best way to save money on food while traveling, no one wants to cook the entire time. So once you’ve decided on your destination, check out Groupon, Living Social and Restaurant.com before your trip. These sites are known for saving people money on entertainment in their own town, but the same rules apply while traveling. I know I’m always asking for restaurant recommendations when I go to a new destination, but using Groupon or Restaurant.com takes the guess work out of it for me and I can save $25-$50 on every meal. Plus sites like Groupon also offer discounts on attractions as well. Just be aware of the rules associated with the coupons as sometimes they are only useable certain days of the week or exclude certain food items.
Hopefully these tips help you take the perfect (affordable) family vacation this summer. Remember to shop smart, but have fun!