Dollars & Sense, Tip #4: Ways to save on your next family vacation

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Since Jason and I are in the midst of planning our family vacation for this summer, I thought I would share with you some tips on how we are able to have awesome vacations for less and you can too!

Plan ahead and write EVERYTHING down. We have always found that when we think ahead for every detail and have a plan written down, we are more likely to stick with it. We usually will write down each category (lodging, food, gas, souvenirs, admission for sight-seeing, misc.) and we will try to figure up as much as we can of how much we will need for each category.

Lodging: We have recently realized that we enjoy camping. So last year we invested in a good tent as well as all the supplies we would need for camping. If you like camping, you can save a ton by staying at a campground instead of a hotel. We’re going to be camping for 3 nights in Charleston, SC for only $165 total. It would’ve cost us more than that for each night in a hotel.

If you don’t like camping, you can save by shopping around and even booking the hotel as early as you can. There are a few website that you can use to try and find discounted hotel deals, like Orbitz, Expedia, Travelosity and Hotwire. Just always make sure you read the reviews for hotels before you book! You never know what you’re going to get sometimes.

Food: We will make a list for each meal and plan what we’re going to have. We will buy as much food as we can to bring along (usually at Aldi), rather than constantly buying fast food. You can do this even if you are not camping. Most hotels have a small space with a mini-fridge and microwave. You can use a cooler for the items that need to stay cold if you need to. This is especially helpful when you have young children, because you know they like to eat very often! Also, remember when your planning your food budget that some hotels offer a free breakfast.

                Breakfast: cereal bars, yogurt cups, fruit, juiceboxes, yoohoo.

               Lunch:  tortillas or pita bread, peanut butter, lunchmeat & cheese, chips, fruit, juiceboxes, bottled water, pudding cups & cookies. (ps. Definitely try the tortillas/pita bread, we’ve found that regular bread always gets squished on car trips! We did this last year and it was wonderful to not have bread getting destroyed!)

              Snacks: I usually make a huge batch of energy bites (Find my recipe HERE). They’re also great for when we are late getting to eat a meal and need a little something. You could also pack granola bars and things like that.

              Dinner: when we’re camping we will usually do hotdogs one night and hamburgers another. We will usually have chips, soda and sometimes make s’mores for dessert.  Even though we’re camping, we always plan for at least one night to eat out for dinner as a treat.

Even if you are not camping and don’t plan to bring very much food, you can still have a food plan rather than just trying to figure things out along the way. You always save money when you have a plan of some kind. Also, don’t forget to look for coupons for restaurants that you may want to eat at. I usually get a folder and put all the coupons in there along with any other paperwork we need to keep safe.

Gas: We try to calculate how many miles we’ll be traveling and try to figure up a rough estimate of how many tanks of gas we’ll be using and how much that will cost.

Souvenirs: We usually set a budget for how much we’re going to give the kids each to spend on their own souvenirs and then we set an amount for us. Also, we try to remind the kids how much money they have at each place so they can try and make the best decisions about what to buy.

Sight-Seeing/Admissions: We always research what activities there are in the area before we go, that way we already know what all we want to do. We’re able to look on websites and see how much admission costs for different places and usually we make our decisions based on that and how much we want to go to each place. We also try to look at the hours they are open so we can plan out what we’re going to do each day. Also, you may be able to find coupons for admissions to some places so don’t forget to look for those. A lot of times you can find free or very inexpensive museums or parks if you just take a little time to do some looking.


I hope these ideas have been a little helpful to you in planning your family’s next vacation. I would love to hear from you if you want to share ideas with me about how your family saves money on vacations! Please feel free to comment! We’ll be camping in Charleston, SC for 3 nights this Memorial Day weekend and we’re getting very excited! What is your family planning for summer vacation this year? I’d love to hear!




Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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