Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Family Vacations on a Budget - Major Areas to Save

There are a few major areas on which to concentrate when planning family vacations on a budget.

1.) Lodging
2.) Meals
3.) Travel expenses - Gas, Airline Tickets, Car Rentals
4.) Things to Do

Over the next few posts, I will create a list of ideas to save in each of these areas.  Hopefully, some of my suggestions will help your family be able to take many family vacations on a budget in the years to come.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Disney World Family Vacations on a Budget

We are currently planning our next trip in May to add to our years of family vacations on a budget.  We are very excited to be going to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  A couple months ago when we started discussing where we could go for vacation this year, I checked the cost of packages at Disney World on their website.  The cost was about $1,500 to $2,000 more than what we were prepared to spend for our typical vacation.  My aunt suggested looking at timeshare offers.  We did and found that it was perfect for us to enjoy another of our family vacations on a budget.  We will have to attend a 90 minute presentation where they try to convince you to buy a timeshare, but the savings is worth 90 minutes to us.  The timeshare package we booked includes a seven night stay in a two bedroom condo, 3 three day tickets to Disney World, 3 tickets to SeaWorld (includes free food for the day at SeaWorld), and 2 Kids Eat Free Cards.  In addition to the savings the timeshare offer presents, we also are taking advantage of our youngest child being FREE to Disney and SeaWorld since he is only 2.  That saves quite a bit!

Destination Favorites for Family Vacations on a Budget

One of our family's favorite vacation spots is the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area in Tennessee.  We love staying in the cabins in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville.  There are many cabins available for rent.  This is a wonderful place to go if you enjoy relaxing and prefer not to stay in a hotel.  We have vacationed in that area four times in the past nine years.  Each time, we have rented a different cabin in either Pigeon Forge or Sevierville.

For family vacations on a budget, this area has several things to offer.  Whether you prefer to hike or drive, you will love the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The park is FREE to visit.  This is a wonderful place for those of all ages.  If you do visit the park, you just might see a black bear.  We were excited to see bears on two of our visits.  If you have young children, another FREE activity is to picnic or just play at the local parks.  Our children are both under five and they are always happy to have some time to simply play.

We always stay in a cabin that has a full kitchen.  So, we enjoy a couple of meals at the cabin to help save on the cost of meals.  Plus, it is a great time to just enjoy each other as a family.  Many cabins are equipped with pool tables, hot tubs, and DVD players which also provide some relaxing entertainment without additional costs.  There are a few Redbox Movie Rental Kiosks for cheap dvd renting in Pigeon Forge.

Family vacations on a budget can be a reality, with a little online research and creative thinking.

Saving on Meals for Family Vacations on a Budget

As we prepare for our next trip to add to our memories of family vacations on a budget, we are thinking about ways to save money on our meals.  We are planning to go to Orlando for seven nights and stay in a time-share resort that has a full kitchen.  So, for this particular trip, we are going to save on meals by
1. Taking breakfast items with us from home or stopping at a grocery store in Orlando. 2. We received a Kids Eat Free Card when we booked our lodging.  So, we will use that whenever possible.  3. We may try to prepare a few meals in our suite.  4. We are going to buy several gift cards from for various restaurants in Orlando hopefully when they are running a good sale on the cards.  5.  We will also look for any restaurants running Kids Eat Free promotions.  With all of these possibilities, we should be able to save quite a bit.  We will be keeping our eyes open for any other ideas to help save on our family vacations on a budget.

Family Vacations on a Budget

Each year when deciding where to go for our family vacation, we always have the same questions.  Where can we go that will be fun, but affordable?  How can we cut costs to add another trip to our memories of family vacations on a budget?  Following are a few ideas to help make your memories of family vacations on a budget.

1.) Select a destination that is within your comfortable driving distance to avoid the cost of airline tickets.
2.) If you prefer not to stay in hotels, search online for deals for cabins, etc.  In the past, we have stayed in places that offered, buy 2 nights get 2 free.
3.) Research the off-season for your destination.  This may help with lodging costs.
4.) Stay in a time-share resort.  You will have to attend a presentation, but it might be worth it in order to stay within your budget.
5.) If you do stay in a place that has a kitchen, choose to eat some of your meals there instead of eating out.
6.) Stay at a hotel that offers FREE breakfast, or bring breakfast items with you.
7.) Eat at restaurants that offer FREE kids meals.
8.) Search online for discounted attraction tickets.
9.) If you have very young children (under 3), look for attractions where that age group is FREE or heavily discounted, but is still something they would enjoy.
10.) Always include some FREE activities in your itinerary, such as visiting local parks or wildlife, nature areas.

Remember to "think differently" when planning your family vacations on a budget.