Planning a vacation? Looking to go on an affordable vacation but still feel spoiled? These tips will help you plan a vacation on a budget.
Thank you to Extended Stay America by making this post possible – all opinions expressed are my own
As a family we’ve traveled a lot over the years and yes traveling can be a luxury but it doesn’t have to feel like it within your budget. Many people ask me how we plan and budget for vacations, how we get to do all we do and what kind of tips for finding the best spots that are cheap and affordable. So today I’m spilling all of our tips on going on a vacation on a budget!
1- Plan First you need to take the time to plan. Plan your vacation and your trip around what location you’d like to visit and explore. Steer away from the resort and high end areas and rather look to visit big cities or places “off the beaten path”. If you want to go to a “high traffic” vacation spot you can most likely find the best prices on the off peak season in that area. It’s a sacrifice to make but maybe worth it!
2- Decide how long you are staying. Planning how long your stay is will determine your budget. Remember when deciding your length of stay consider the cost of fuel, food, activities and hotel. Sometimes a shorter stay is worth it but if you are flying or driving a long distance you may want to consider a longer vacation time.
Being hosted by Extended Stay America – is the perfect spot to come back and relax, cook dinner in our hotel room (if you want to and save some extra $ while on your family vacation). I am also able to wash clothes in the hotel laundry room – which for me as a mom doing a load of laundry (or two) while on vacation doesn’t seem ideal but honestly it’s a life saver because we can pack lighter – especially on trips like we did to Portland Maine – along with the idea of when I come home it’s a lot less work on the back end!
3- Budget. Now that you know WHERE you are going and HOW long you are staying it’s time to get to the nitty gritty and decide how much this trip will cost you – allowing you to set money aside from now until the trip time.
A few things to consider when planning a vacation on a budget!
- How long is your stay?
- What kind of activities are you looking to do?
- Are you staying in a hotel like Extended Stay America where you can cook some of your own meals and grab breakfast?
- Are you flying or driving?
- Need a rental car if flying?
- Will you need fun money for shopping and souvenirs?
Take all of these things into consideration, grab a pencil and paper and start searching what all of these items will cost you. Then ask yourself if you can afford it. If you can start setting the money aside now…if you can’t start to pare back and decide what you can do to still go to this location and make it happen!
A few ways we’ve found to vacation on a budget:
- Staying at Extended Stay America allows me to cook some meals in – we still eat out and enjoy the culture of where we are at! Yet being able grab breakfast that they offer along with a cup of coffee saves us money, being able to have a full size fridge and make sandwiches to take with us on a long hiking day or make a grocery run and fix a dinner in certainly helps the food budget along the way!
- If we are taking a long trip Extended Stay America usually has a good rate for the “extended stay” length! No pun intended!!!
- If we can drive to the location within about 8 hours we’ll always drive and by pass flying. Plus when we get to our destination we have our own vehicle and don’t have to rent.
- Always research the area for free events and free activities. Every city has free things to do – whether it’s a public park, a festival that’s going on or a museum. I promise you you can find free activities – it may take some research and time on the front end but it can be done.
- If you have enough time in advance and have a plan of activities you want to do, begin researching the activities for discounts, coupons or reach out to the location to see if they have any offers to pass along to you!
- Hop online for the deal sites in that area (i.e. groupon etc) and see if there are any deals going on for attractions and activities that would appeal to you and your family!
Make traveling fun – don’t stress out about it…but planning ahead is the key to saving money for your vacation! Plan some wiggle room in the budget because we’ve always gotten to a new destination and after talking to locals found out about new places we didn’t know about that we should visit and go! So plan for those little surprises too!
A few highlighted affordable family vacations we’ve taken:
- Things to do in Seaside FL
- 15 Free Things to do in Destin, FL
- 17 Fun Things to do in Lafayette LA with Kids
- 19 Family Friendly Things to do in Nashville, TN
- Family Friendly Things to do in Portland Maine
I know there are still lots more tricks and tips for us to learn so PLEASE comment below with what you’ve learned and how to make a vacation affordable or cheap!!