When you have kids, summer adventures are a must. When you don’t have kids, you can adventure at any old off-peak time to save some money. But we have to adventure when the kids are off from school, which often means paying a premium for your vacation.
Still, that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money.
If having kids teaches you anything, it’s that you can find fun in a cardboard box. Literally.
Here are a few tips for saving money on your summer travel adventures:
Take a road trip
While Scotland’s beaches are always a good idea, they don’t exactly make for the most affordable adventure.
Instead of jet-setting with your minis, consider taking a road trip. In some ways, road tripping it can be even more adventurous than traveling to a foreign land. Think about you, the kids and the open road.
You don’t even have to choose a destination. Just hit the road with some supplies and have a true adventure. You can even let the kids choose the way and see where you end up (within reason, of course).
To make the adventure even more fun for you, consider renting a sports car for the trip. Just be sure to get a rental with unlimited miles!
Use your rewards
Most of us end up wasting so many opportunities to save money because we don’t look in the right places. If you have a rewards credit card, this is a great place to start. Don’t assume it’s going to be too complicated. Check out your rewards on the bank’s website and call if you have any questions.
You may also qualify for discounts just for using certain products and services. Here are some examples:
- Credit cards – In addition to rewards points and cash back, you may be able to find discounts for using a Visa or Mastercard to book in certain places. Check out Visa Perks or Mastercard Rewards.
- Discount clubs – Depending on your membership, you may have access to travel discounts through discount clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club.
- Other memberships – Other memberships like AARP or AAA can get you discounts on all kinds of attractions, hotels and transportation options.
Nothing says adventure like sleeping in the great outdoors. And when you camp instead of staying at a hotel, you can save a lot of money. Just be sure to check the rates before you go. Camping at some of the popular sites can be expensive during peak times. If you encounter pricey campsites, broaden your search to include nearby areas. You can still camp near major landmarks, but you may have a bit of a longer drive to get there.
Plan picnic lunches
Wherever you are, you’ll likely have grocery stores within a reasonable driving distance. Take advantage of this by purchasing food that you can make for lunch and have as snacks. When you’re vacationing, food takes up a significant portion of your budget, so any cuts here can save you a ton of dough.
Stay somewhere with a kitchen
You may have to pay a little extra upfront for a hotel that has a kitchenette, but you can save money in the long run. A box of pasta and tomato sauce may cost under $5 and will feed you and the family. Consider that same meal at a restaurant for a family of 4: 4 plates at $8 each = $32.
Find free stuff to do
It’s tempting to choose all the big, pricey adventures on vacation, but you don’t always have to spend money to have a good time. Check the web for fun and free activities in your area before you set your itinerary in stone.
Do you remember your kid’s first birthday? The one where he spent more time playing with the wrapping paper than anything else? Moments like those teach us that it’s not about the fancy stuff. It’s about finding ways to have fun in the moment.
What’s your favorite way to save money on vacation?