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
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!