There are so many of us that enjoy spending time with family, either going on vacation, holiday trips, or even just lazy weekends at home. What has become the largest obstacle for any of this is the increased cost. But there are several ways you can do all of the above without breaking the bank.
Take, for instance, a family vacation. One would normally assume spending time with the family in Europe would be a great trip but too expensive. However, if you plan well and use these tips, you'll find that a trip across the pond is easily in your budget. Let's talk about how you can plan a trip like this and keep some of that cash in the bank.
1. Accommodations. Do not start looking for five star resorts and booking high end hotel rooms, consider less expensive lodging, especially if you plan to tour the country, not spend time in the rooms. (Home rentals are very affordable and you may even be able to find a hotel for the time you are visiting for far less, if you search for it). You might even consider booking a private room at a hostel, you'll spend much less money and you'll meet some pretty interesting travelers. By searching for these types of lodgings, you'll be able to keep some cash in your pocket for the things you'd really like to do, instead of overthinking about the cost of them.
2. Pack your meals. A big expense families end on these types of trips is food. Try not to eat out every meal. Pack a lunch and bring some healthy snacks when you venture out. Bring plenty to drink and portion out the snacks for everyone, so they all have enough to eat during each outing. If your lodging provides a refrigerator, buy enough food for your stay stay and try to only eat at restaurants sparingly. By keeping food where you are staying and taking meals with you, you'll be able to spend more time doing all the fun stuff.
3. Save now or make a payment plan. Yes, a payment plan can be arranged for family trips with many agencies. Find a local travel agency that will accommodate your family's vacation needs by setting up a payment plan. You may have to pay the full amount up front for airline tickets but the rest of the trip can be broken down in smaller increments. Plan ahead and your family will have the vacation of a lifetime, without all the stress.
4. Find the free tours. The new trend in much of Europe is the provision of free city tours. Many cities offer free tours with local guides and it's a great way to discover secret sites, listen to intriguing stories, and see the countryside.
5. Take trains and use local transportation. If you're planning to trek across the country, do not rent a vehicle, enjoy the ride on a train. Europe has an extensive rail network and its one of the most economic modes of travel. You'll see a major of the most beautiful locations during these trips and you'll find that most places you want to visit will be accessible. Use a Rail Pass, it's the cheapest way to travel and trains are among the most comfortable and safest ways to see Europe. If you're going to “stay local”, use the public transportation systems. Most European countries have excellent public transportation networks and you'll enjoy finding out how the locals go about their daily routines. Finding parking may be a hassle and using taxis can beat up your wallet, so take advantage of areas that have buses and have subway systems.
6. Take planes for long trips across Europe. Save time and money by booking with one of the low-cost European airlines. EasyJet and RyanAir are two of the most cost effective airlines in Europe and they offer flights between most countries for only a few Euros. Both have very user friendly websites with interactive maps and booking is simple.
As for an economic holiday trip, think about applying the above tips too. When you are planning to visit family or even just take a weeklong trip to the tropics, think about how to stretch your dollar.
1. Airline pricing: Do your homework! We all know that fares skyrocket during peak holidays, save a bundle by flying on off-peak dates such as Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve, or getting there early, like during Thanksgiving! Check out alternative airports within a hundred miles radius of your destination, chances are you'll find much cheaper flights.
2. Housing and accommodations: Everyone knows the cheapest way to stay with family but who wants to share a bathroom with fifteen relatives, right? Try selecting a hotel that allows you to use travel reward programs. Some hotels even let you earn reward points that could turn into free nights or other rewards.
3. Food: Again, try not to spend all that money you saved out on dining and if you can book a room with a kitchen and fridge, do it. Buy all the food you might need for every day you'll be there and pack enough to enjoy the time out every day.
4. Save money when you fly. Do not look your luggage when you fly, ship it! If you can send your gifts and packages to your destination, you'll spend far less money and end less less stress at the airport.
5. Travel where nobody else is going. Instead of going to the locations that the masses are flocking toward, consider some areas where they are not. Try going to a nice urban area instead of a ski-town, or even a trip to the Midwest while others are hitting the beach.
Staying home for a lazy weekend is always a great way to save money but you can still find yourself footing a larger bill than expected. Consider the options when it comes to doing the things you love to do as a family over the weekend.
Do you enjoy a movie on demand? How about ordering a pizza for the night in? These are great choices for a nice weekend in with the family but you can cut some expenses easier than you imagine. Of course a movie night does not cost more than about five bucks if you're ordering on demand but you can find the same movies online, for free! Try searching the web for sites that provide free streaming videos and locate that movie you've been dying to see. If you have a game console like and Xbox or a PS3, you'll be able to stream it wirelessly from your computer directly to your television.
As for the pizza, start cooking! For the amount of money you'll spend on ordering out for something like a pizza, you can bake about a dozen more and still have left over dough. Get creative when it comes to spending a weekend at home. When you think about the cost for things like ordering movies on demand or calling for take-out, you'd be surprised how much you could save by doing a little research and throwing together a little home cooked meal together. When you add it all up, you just might be able to go on that one trip you've all been wanting to take together sooner than you think.