Family Vacations On a Budget

July 22, 2016 | Dawn Virgilio

Family Vacations On a Budget

Family vacations are a great way to bond with the people you care about most, but the costs can add up fast! There’s a lot to plan, from airfare and hotels to activities and food—especially when you’re planning vacations on a budget. We’re all trying to save money in day-to-day life, so what can you do to budget for your family vacation?

Dedicate a Savings Account to your vacation

Mission Fed’s Savings Accounts are designed to help you organize your money and can even help you put some aside for your family vacation. With standard Savings Accounts, you can split your savings into uniquely named categories so that you can better track your various goals, including a fun trip.

If you’re planning your vacation on a budget, you can take advantage of Mission Fed’s Summer or Holiday Saver Account, which earn higher rates than our Standard Savings Account—giving you extra cash for your family vacation!

Budget for your trip with more than just cash—use your Credit Card points!

Planning family vacations in California on a budget sounds daunting, but they can still be more affordable than you think. If you use your Mission Fed Credit Card for everyday purchases and enroll in Mission Rewards, you could earn Mission Rewards points on qualified transactions, receiving up to 1 point for every dollar.

There are several ways that you can use Mission Rewards points to save money on your budget friendly vacation. You can redeem your points for airline tickets and hotel rooms to offset the cost of your travel. Or, you can use your points for cash back and put that cash back into your Summer Saver or Standard Savings Account, and designate it for your vacation. Depending on how much you use your Credit Card, you might have enough points to pay for most of your vacation.

Book your vacation at the right time

When choosing your vacation travel dates, be aware that traveling around holidays oftentimes cost more money. It’s easier to plan family vacations on a budget and save money by selecting dates a week or more away from major holidays.

On average, booking a flight 54 days before takeoff saves you the most money. That may be very specific, but you can experience savings any time within the “prime window” of 110 days to 21 days before departure. Booking in that range will save you an average of $200 compared to booking flights within seven days of your trip! So while the spontaneous vacation may sound exciting, planning ahead is a wise move for your wallet. Budget vacations require careful planning to save the most money.

For hotel reservations, the amount you can save on a budget vacation varies widely depending on when you book and where you are going. For example, if you are traveling to New York, booking two to four months before you travel can save you an average of 25%, while taking the family across the pond to London requires booking your hotel three to five months before takeoff to save 18% on average. Starting your search well in advance gives you the opportunity to plan vacations on a budget by checking rates from time to time. Rather than just logging on to a travel website and paying the price that shows up, you can check rates regularly and watch the fluctuations. When the hotel reservation price drops to a level that you are comfortable with, snag your deal!

Look for special discounts and family packages

Many travel booking sites and agencies will offer budget vacations from time to time. If you are flexible on the hotel that you are willing to stay at or the airline that you’ll fly with, several sites offer you discounts for using hidden deals. You can specify your travel destination and the features that you require, such as hotel star level or non-stop flights, and you can get extra savings by accepting any hotel or flight that match those qualifications. If you’re not picky about the specifics, this is an excellent way to plan family vacations on a budget.

You can also save money by booking “vacation packages” that include hotels, flights and sometimes rental cars. Bundling aspects of your travel by booking the package from one website can help you save in a number of ways. Consider taking advantage of airline partners when booking your hotel and rental car, too. In some cases, you can earn airline miles for your hotel room and rental car reservations that you can then apply to your airfare, helping you keep your vacations on a budget.

If you are visiting local tourist attractions, they may have special rates for families. Family vacations on a budget can take advantage of group rates that aren’t offered to singles or couples. Research the places on your itinerary ahead of time to save on outings and day trips. Look for restaurants that allow kids to eat for free or offer special deals on kids’ meals with the purchase of an adult meal. This can help you save even more and may even offer an extra element of fun for the kids.

Take a road trip or go camping

California is a large state, nearly twice the size of the United Kingdom! There are so many options for fun-filled family vacations in California on a budget, thanks to our lovely home state having an amazing coastline, mysterious forests, mesmerizing deserts and breathtaking mountains, with many accessible by car.

You can plan a budget-friendly getaway by packing up the car and visiting one of the many beautiful campgrounds nearby. After all, a family vacation is all about being together and making memories. Bringing your meals will save money, too, since you won’t be eating in restaurants, and it helps create activities you can do as a family. Have the kids help you roast hot dogs over the fire, or wrap potatoes in foil to toss in the coals. Budget vacations can be just as fun, if not more so, than a fancy trip to an exotic locale.

With the amount you’ll save by forgoing airfare and hotel costs and restaurant outings, perhaps you can travel more frequently and gather around the fire to celebrate how much you saved on family vacations with a campfire treat. S’more savings, anyone?

The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. Mission Federal Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided.

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Dawn Virgilio

Dawn Virgilio

Dawn Virgilio is VP Financial Planning & Analysis at Mission Federal Credit Union. She has enjoyed a long career working for financial institutions, the majority of that time (25 years) dedicated to credit unions. She really likes numbers, especially when they add up and multiply.

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