The calendar might say spring, but it seems Mother Nature did not get the memo. Winter is holding on tightly, which makes the idea of a vacation even more appealing.
If you find yourself dreaming of blue skies, warm sun on your face and fresh air, then it is time to plan a getaway. But, of course, you want to make sure you plan your vacation with your budget in mind. After all, coming home to a mountain of bills will do nothing more than make you want to run away again.
Click to read more about 15 fun and affordable places to take your family on vacation.
Know Your Budget
Before you even think about planning your vacation, you need to have a budget. And, you need to stick to it. You certainly do not want to return home to a stack of credit card bills you can’t pay.
As much fun as it can be to decide to take a trip at the last minute, careful planning can pay off. Research airfare and hotel destinations to find discounts and offers. Visit sites such as Groupon to find discounts on admission and food for the location you plan to visit.
Most people plan a vacation that starts on a Saturday. This year, schedule a shorter vacation that runs during the week. Not only can you potentially save on airfare by flying at off-peak times, but venues are less crowded on Tuesday versus Friday.
Don’t Buy Stuff
Whenever we go anywhere with our kids, they want something to take home with them. They love those little souvenirs. Buying one small item usually won’t hurt the budget, but getting several of them certainly will.
If you want to buy such items, skip the little shops within theme parks or in the airport, as you will pay much more. Instead, swing by a big box store and find those items where they are much more affordable.
Skip the Hotel
There are many sites, such as Airbnb, that offer homes or condos to rent. Doing so can be less expensive than paying for a hotel. Not only do you have more space to relax, but you will also save money on food.
A trip to the grocery store will cost you less than dining out for every single meal. Cooking your meals in the space you’re renting and packing things like sandwiches for lunch will save you big money on your vacation.
Pack the Snacks
On that note, if you know that you’ll be visiting a ballpark, amusement park, zoo or going on some other hours-long outing during your trip, make sure you bring along your own snacks. Otherwise, you can expect to pay big money when you get hungry, as the snacks are often costly.
Toss granola bars, cracker packs and other small snacks into your suitcase. Before you head out each morning, put a few into your backpack so you have something when the kids tell you they’re hungry.
We did this when we went to Florida a couple of years ago. I could not believe how much money we saved by having a go-to snack handy versus buying junk food when we were in the parks.
Check for Special Rates
Don’t forget to check your memberships for special rates. If you belong to AAA, a warehouse or another club, they might offer discounts on airfare, hotels and rental cars. You’ve paid to belong, so take full advantage of your membership perks.
Stay at Home
Alternatively, skip the big vacation this year and stay home. Look around your community for things to do. It could be fun to be a hometown tourist and visit your local museums and venues. When you live in a city, you often don’t take the time to enjoy the amenities those visiting your area usually do.
Whatever you decide to do, with a little budgeting and planning, your spring vacation can give you the chance you need to get away and relax, stress free.
Click through to read more about how this family of four went on an all-inclusive, tropical getaway.