Making strong family memories while traveling is a top priority for us, but the cost can add up quickly, especially when you have a family bigger than what fits in a standard hotel room. I’ve gathered some of the best money saving tips to help your family take a vacation and make memories that will last a lifetime (without the debt of a lifetime).
Book with Family Vacation Experts
First, book with Get Away Today. They have a Best Price Guarantee, so if you happen to find a lower price, they will match it and beat it by $10! However, it’s hard to find lower prices than their reduced hotel rates and discount park tickets. Not only will you get the best price around, but their reservation agents have incredible customer service and can help plan every aspect of your trip. Each dollar saved definitely adds up, especially when you are buying for seven plus people. Get Away Today agents know how to do it right for large families.
Research Hotel Arrangements
Second, do your research on what will work best for your family with your hotel arrangements, both in price and layout. Many times families with more than four or five members immediately think they will need to book more than one hotel room, but that isn’t true! Many hotels offer suites that can sleep upwards of eight people. This is a great option if you are wanting to sleep your entire family in one room, but keep in mind it might not always be the cheapest option. Sometimes booking two separate hotel rooms is less of a cost than one suite, so make sure you always do your research to see what is best for your family.
Find the Included Freebies
Another awesome money saving tip is to look for the freebies included with your hotel. Does your hotel offer free breakfast? Not all hotels do. You can also call the hotel and see what they typically offer at breakfast to ensure it's worth it (we really like the Kitchen Skillet breakfast available at some Hyatt Place hotels- something different everyday). When you book with Get Away Today, they have exclusive offers with select hotels that include benefits like free breakfast, free or reduced parking and resort fees on top of their already discounted nightly rates. Free breakfast saves you money on a meal for everyone every day, and the money saved on free or reduced parking and resort fees can then be used in other areas. Some hotels, like the Homewood Suites (one of my favorites), also offer dinner on select nights.
Also take a look at what membership cards you already have. Many museum memberships include the ASTC Travel Passport program which means you can get in free (or at a deep discount) to several museums across the country already. Many zoos and aquariums do the same thing so make sure you know before you go by checking out your local websites. It's a real game changer.
If you have a 4th grader, be sure you have printed out your Every Kid in a Park pass. It gets your whole family into national parks across the United States. Your pass is good for one year beginning when your child enters 4th grade (or homeschool equivalent) through the following summer (September to August the following year).
Say Yes to the Road Trip
Sometimes flying is worth the extra money to save a few hours or days in the car, but if you are really wanting to pinch your pennies, driving is going to be your best bet. Road trips can be a fun way to bond and spend time together as a family and add to your vacation experience. There are tons of ways to keep your kiddos entertained during the ride. Leave as early as you can in the morning so the kids will start out tired and will want to sleep at the beginning of the drive. Fast forward and you are already three hours into your road trip and they are just waking up! There are plenty of games, books, travel kits, and movies to keep everyone entertained while on the road. Plus, you can bring a cooler to pack your favorite snacks in.
Bring Your Own Food
Speaking of food, you can save tons of money by bringing your own food for meals and snacks to your destination. Seven people eating out for three days or more can add up, no matter where your destination is. If you choose to drive, stock up on easy-to-prepare meal ingredients and snacks like sandwiches, tortilla wraps, veggies, fruit, granola bars, etc. Some suites offer kitchens or kitchenettes so you can buy food to cook in your hotel room (the crockpot is our best friend on vacation). There are even some hotels that offer complimentary grocery shopping while you are at the park, all you have to do is give them your grocery list and they charge the groceries to your room.
You can also save money on food by sharing meals between family members. Most meals purchased (especially at Disneyland) can be split by two or even three little people. This can save plenty of money if you are wanting to experience the food at your destination. Every meal doesn’t need to be eaten at a restaurant, but when you do, sharing can save you tons of money while still satisfying everyone’s appetite.
Curb Souvenir Frenzy
One the biggest expenses can be all those souvenirs that everyone MUST have at every stop- even the gas station. Help your family learn to choose wisely which ones they actually want to buy with Vacay Bucks. Set your budget then give your children the opportunity to earn a certain amount of Vacay Bucks before the trip. What they earn is what they can spend and once it's spent, it's gone. They will learn quickly not to buy the first thing they see but to pick something that actually means something to them. The best part- you don't have to be the one that says No. They are in charge of their own budget. Print some Vacay Bucks for your family to use.
There are plenty of ways to save money while traveling as a big family. When planning your vacation, head over to Get Away Today. Their Best Price Guarantee gives you the assurance that you are saving money while still being able to take your family on a vacation they will never forget. If you end up going to Southern California, you can use promo code SCRATCHNSNIFF to save an additional $10 off your package. Book online at getawaytoday.com or by calling 855-GET-AWAY to speak to an agent.
Your Turn- What money saving travel tips do you have for large families?