travel

Five Smart Ways to Save Money for a Family Vacation

save money for a family vacation vidya sury

I love family vacations. I enjoy making the list of places we want to visit and then shortlisting those that are possible, sometimes regretfully knocking off those that are outside our budget, which is how I came up with the idea of writing this post on how to save money for a family vacation.

These days, it is a case of expenses going up with no relative change in income, along with travel costs escalating. So if we are to satisfy our urge to travel, then naturally the best way to do it is – save! Luckily, there are many ways to save money for a family vacation, if we’re conscious.

Last year, when my husband had an official trip planned to Canada, we joked about accompanying him. Of course we didn’t expect it to happen. But the more we thought about it, the more it seemed possible. Aided and abetted by my best friend who lives in Toronto, we finally decided to explore the possibility. We worried about the cost of travel and looked for ways to cut back on expenses. Eventually, we did manage to have a very nice trip. And of course, we have lovely memories that will last a lifetime!

Five smart ways to save money for a family vacation

Save money for a family vacation vidya sury

When our love for travel overwhelms us, we have to find ways to make it happen. Here are some tips that worked for us.

Making a budget

First thing we did, and this was a no-brainer. For most of my life, I’ve had to work with a budget and this one was not going to be any different. The minute we think of a big spend, out comes the pad and pencil! Once we decided we were going, we made an estimate of how much the trip would cost and this included cost of travel, local travel, and other incidental expenses. I would be lying if I said my head didn’t reel at how much we’d spend in so little time. Months before the trip, we created a little fund, to which we added, and did not touch. Then of course, there was the shopping for gifts to take for our friends. I am blessed I have three of my closest friends living in Canada. So, slowly, steadily, we planned and put aside money.

Leveraging credit cards and free travel miles

Now, I am meticulous about collecting credit card points. Using my credit card for everything also helps me stay in control over what I spend, thanks to the mobile alerts to tell me how much credit I have. If you see the fine print in the thick booklet that comes with your credit card, depending on the card you use, you’ll find that credit card points and airline miles can be used for car rentals, hotel stays, and free airline tickets and a whole lot of stuff. Now was the time to explore further and look at the ways we could use our accumulated points and miles. For example, whenever you use your American Express Platinum charge card you can accumulate credit-card points to use during outings, while adding points for future travel trips. I smile to think how I scolded my neighbor for talking us into getting one when he joined the company as a trainee.

Cutting back on the extras

Next to energy bills, eating out is the biggest expense ever. I am glad to say my family enjoys my cooking and during the months leading to our family vacation, we avoided ordering even the occasional pizza that my son loves. No coffees outside. Even the once in a while lunch outside was eliminated. We packed our own meals to work, school or when we went out. We avoided outings – instead, we entertained ourselves at home – no airline tickets to vacation here – and by going out for long walks. In fact, we walked whenever we could without using taxis. When absolutely unavoidable, we went with public transport. And oh yes, we caught up on our reading!

Slicing those energy costs

This is a year round saving that we enjoy. When we celebrated our first Earth Day, we consciously took measures to go green. We switched to CFL lighting. We unplug all the appliances that are not in use – did you know that even if you switch them off, they continue to consume energy when they are plugged in? Arrgh. We went for solar power. We switched everything off and spent time outdoors going for walks or simply enjoyed time on our terrace (roof) watching the sunset and birds. And spent time together at the same time!

We worked as a team

We are united about this, which makes all the difference. Sometimes, if just one member in the family is slogging towards a goal, it doesn’t make sense. Each of us took the responsibility and was accountable. And the feeling is wonderful because all this becomes a lifetime habit and not just to save for a vacation, even though we watched our “vacation account” grow and become healthy. After all, I do have a growing list of must-see places, don’t I?

Got tips to add?

I’d love to hear it in the comments!

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24 Comments

  • Reply
    Susan Scott
    May 9, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Vidya great post thank you! We’ve always been a cost conscious family so our sons who are self employed now realise that value. Air miles is a great way to bring down cost of flights. Of course it’s nice to splash out every once in a while 🙂
    Susan Scott recently posted…Reflections PostMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      May 10, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Thank you, Susan – being cost-conscious makes it easy for our family to tighten up on the savings habit and it feels good because it is for a good cause!

      By the way – I am still not able to access your blog. I keep getting the “403 Forbidden” error page. I’ve asked several people to try and view it, they’re reporting the same thing. I feel so bad I have never seen your blog, Susan! 🙁
      Vidya Sury recently posted…A to Z Challenge 2014 ReflectionsMy Profile

  • Reply
    birgit
    May 9, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Great and right up my alley since I am a credit counsellor:) You make great points! Know your budget. If there is an expense you are unsure of, keep track. people here, can go to Tim Horton’s (coffee and donut place)and buy 3 coffees a day each day and that adds up to $1,992.90 in a year! This could be an all-inclusive trip somewhere. Place your loose change in a big jar-can save quite a bit that way. Have a savings account and place the money into that acct for your goals etc.. each pay. Make the account inconvenient to get to. Too convenient may mean too easy to use and spend. Look ahead and read up on the costs of food, hotels, taxis, places to visit as it all adds up. Try budget places or B & B’s or staying at a home could be cheaper than a regular hotel. Go in the off season. Don’t eat where the tourists always eat but venture outside and find places that the regular folk go to-could be cheaper. If you have all the extras on your phone or cable ask if you need every movie channel and make cuts. When buying groceries-don’t go when hungry. Make a list, don’t buy all the instant stuff as can cost more. Just some of my quicky tips too:)

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      May 9, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      Fantastic, Birgit, we follow almost all of them – all thanks to our keenness to pay off our mortgage, years ago. I’ve found one of the best ways is to only carry so much cash when I go to the local market, so I am not tempted to buy anything extra. The local market does not accept plastic.

      I remember, long ago, a friend of mine asked me how my Mom and I managed on a rather meager salary. We realized our biggest savings came from NOT eating out, at all.

      Hugs! Thank you for adding so much value to my post!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…A to Z Challenge 2014 ReflectionsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Beloo Mehra
    May 9, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    A good post, Vidya. Funny I am reading this post just a few minutes after my husband and I were talking about the huge travel expenses we incurred last year because of our/my very frequent travels (of course no regrets there, those were completely unavoidable travels and were the kinds of travels you can’t plan ahead but you must undertake, so had to pay exorbitant prices for air tickets most of the times). And we were talking about avoiding travel this year until we have saved up a bit specifically for this purpose. And here I am reading this post of yours 🙂 So I am now more inspired to start a little travel fund myself! Some good tips here. Another tip I can think of (well, not really a tip but more of a way to fulfill the urge to travel and do it on a reasonable budget) is to take road trips to local places of interest in the state. We have done that a couple of times in the past. This way we not only enjoyed visiting some special historical places/towns but also got to see more closely the rural side of our state, which is quite beautiful in its own way.
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…In a Quandary about Blogging Awards: A Personal TakeMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      May 9, 2014 at 10:22 pm

      I know, right, Beloo? Unavoidable travel – usually family emergency related for us – really cuts into our budget. Even as your comment came in, my son and I were making a list of all the nearby places we haven’t seen yet – and there’s so much to see. We’re having fun writing the list. As for road trips, we don’t own a car, so we’re looking at using public transport to get to the places we want to visit. My travel fund right now is tightly guarded for a major trip next year. 🙂 We do have a couple of places shortlisted this summer – but it depends on the airfare – the closer the trip, the costlier it is.

      Hugs! Thank you for your tip!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Grateful For The Little Things My Mom DidMy Profile

  • Reply
    Aditi
    May 10, 2014 at 10:37 am

    I love planning for holidays….in the process you take a mini virtual trip to the place beforehand! 😀
    Aditi recently posted…Reflections on ‘Shades of Life’My Profile

  • Reply
    Betsy/Zen Mama
    May 10, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Vidya,
    Sounds like you’re doing all the right things… and I think we do the same thing! We use our credit cards to get miles… mostly my husband uses them for work. There’s hardly a trip we take that we don’t have least one ticket bought through those cards. We also go without to save for the trip. Another way we save is by buying our clothes 2nd hand shops. Often our clothes are new! We also plan our trips ourselves which saves on uses a travel agent. And we often find better deals on smaller places that are more local.
    Great post!
    Betsy/Zen Mama recently posted…When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking… I Was!My Profile

  • Reply
    Fab
    May 10, 2014 at 10:54 am

    We love travelling too, but like you said, the ever escalating travel and hotel costs are a huge deterrent. And no one likes a tight fisted vacation, so we have to consider some extra cash as well. These tips are really helpful – will start implementing them soon!
    Fab recently posted…Summer Special – New Releases at Mad Rat Games!!My Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      May 10, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Thank you Fabi! You are right – it feels freaky to cut too many corners. The savings certainly help!
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Zeigarnik EffectMy Profile

  • Reply
    Jyothi Nair
    May 10, 2014 at 11:07 am

    We used the Credit Card Points to book Hotels in Zurich last year. It definitely a helpful tip. Just thinking about the expenses, makes us want to just stay at home and save that money. But if planned wisely, we can squeeze in a vacation once in a while. A very apt Post Vidya. <3
    Jyothi Nair recently posted…Feeling BetrayedMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      May 10, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      Thanks Jyothi! Being conscious is the first step – and then, that leads to finding the way to making it happen.

  • Reply
    Proactive Indian
    May 10, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Very interesting post!
    Some of the points sound a bit fantastic, but I presume you’ve written about them based on your own experience. It would have been nice if you could have provided some figures. For example, “Slicing those energy costs” will definitely result in savings, but can those savings contribute significantly to a foreign trip?
    Proactive Indian recently posted…Every day is Mother’s Day!My Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      May 10, 2014 at 11:55 am

      Pro – saving money is a year-round project. We try to find ways all the time. Re the slicing energy costs – after we started following what I listed (the CFL lamps, solar power, unplugging, switching off) it has resulted in almost 30% savings every month. And to pay this electricity bill, I use a specific card that gives me a further 10% discount on all the bills I pay via that particular site using that card. All these savings go into my travel fund. I cannot just start saving 2-3 months before travel. And by the way – it is not just foreign travel – obviously I (and most people) cannot afford to go on frequent trips abroad. We became ultra-conscious last year because it was my first trip abroad with my son and the cost was intimidating. These savings tips are for any trip we plan to make that I’ve shared with my readers.

  • Reply
    Suzy
    May 10, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Good tips Vidya. And as you say, saving is a lifelong thing.
    Suzy recently posted…Body Parts Tell A StoryMy Profile

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      May 10, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      That’s true, Suzy. When it becomes a habit, it is beneficial on so many counts! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Pratibha
    May 11, 2014 at 8:24 am

    These are some points that I need to follow without giving in to temptations! I just promised the boys that we will go for a vacation to Singapore in December and I get my answers!
    Pratibha recently posted…Burst of Happyness – Product Review {+ A Give Away}My Profile

  • Reply
    Marie Abanga
    May 11, 2014 at 10:17 am

    V, you always have dem such posts me like very much.
    Great tips and hmm I start with them for next year’s vacation cause this summer already guaranteed by some luck.
    One day, maybe you will share something about that Canda trip?
    l love your proding me to smile and l want to thank you.
    Marie Abanga recently posted…How I became a professional CleanerMy Profile

  • Reply
    Shalini
    May 11, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Good one, Vidya. I so badly need a break and I’m soon planning for a vacation. These are definitely going to be handy :):)
    Shalini recently posted…Mom, You’re the Best!!My Profile

  • Reply
    Alberto
    May 11, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Great!
    I will put all your tips in practice. I also love to go on vacation with my family, especially to asian adnd africans countries. In my opinion is specially important to make a budget and try not to waste it entirely.
    Alberto recently posted…Qué es el mindfulness y cómo practicarloMy Profile

  • Reply
    Corinne Rodrigues
    May 11, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    All the tips you mentioned make sense at anytime, Vidya – but when you have a goal in mind, it makes the ‘giving up’ of certain things easier.
    PS: I’m curious about the first picture in the collage? What are you up to? 🙂
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…Stay CreativeMy Profile

  • Reply
    Kalpana Solsi
    May 11, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Very good tips Vidya for saving for a vacation . Eating out makes a big hole in the pocket and packing fruits and munchies while shopping or travelling saves alot of money and healthy too.
    Kalpana Solsi recently posted…The black truth .My Profile

  • Reply
    Erica
    May 12, 2014 at 5:39 am

    We only eat out once a week…Date Night…which is helpful for both our waistlines and our budget. My other save money money thing is no take away coffee. Four dollars a cup, two cups a day, two people really adds up. We bought a coffee machine for home ($99) and drink more water. Win win!
    Erica recently posted…The Holiday is OverMy Profile

  • Reply
    Max Arthur
    May 13, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Making a budget and taking advantage of free travel miles sound about right.

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