Summer is almost over, inspiring families nationwide to get out and explore their city, region, state, or other parts of America before the weather gets cooler again. But how can get you out there, make memories, show your kids new experiences and visit places you’ve always wanted to go without busting your budget? We’ve got you.
From money-saving tips on exploring your area for ways to plan a vacation that doesn’t break the bank, here are 20 money-saving tips.
When at Home, Start With Free or Low-Cost Activities in your Area
While the pandemic has been painful in many ways, one of the things it reminded us of is that you can have fun in various ways. And many of those ways are free or very inexpensive! A recent Harris Poll survey showed that 82% of Americans realized they don’t have to spend money to have a good time. And their bank balances during the pandemic increased for it.
How Much Is Your Family Spending on Activities Yearly?
The average household spends $2,482 over a year on entertainment. Just AMC Movie tickets are $50+ for a family of four, not buying any concessions. All that fun adds up over a year to a lot of money.
I’m by no means suggesting no fun at all! But you could save $1240 annually by cutting this in half. So first, list no-spend activities you’re interested in and review your list before spending on entertainment.
Pick and Choose What Your Family Loves
Regarding outdoor exploration, the most important thing is to do what lights your fire. Some people love hiking in the mountains, while others find peace & inspiration in a wooded park near their homes.
Other families plan to visit all the public playgrounds in their county before the summer is over. The ideas are all the same! Make a list of activities that are low on cost but big on fun.
City, Regional and State Parks are Local Gems
Hiking or even walking trails is an excellent activity for the entire family. Not only is it mostly free, but it offers a chance to get back to nature. It’s also a great way to experience new places in your region.
Don’t overlook State parks in your region which are often less crowded than National Parks and are free to enter or cost very little.
No Beach? No Problem
If your kids love the water, but you’re landlocked or just need a quick free activity to explore your local waterways. Living in this great country gives endless opportunities to enjoy with your family on river banks, streams, and lakes.
Free Summer Performances
Another option is to attend a free outdoor concert in your city or town. In addition, libraries, towns, and cities often offer free music performances throughout the year.
Free Summer Movies
In our area, the Bowtie Cinema chain offers free movie mornings. It’s a great way to beat the eat, see your kids’ favorite movie, or introduce them to the movie theater for the first time. Then, if they get spooked or scared, you can head out early. Since you didn’t pay for it, there is no loss!
Free Museum Passes
Many local museums have “free admission days” courtesy of their corporate sponsors or members of certain banks.
Additionally, you can check out museum passes to local museums from your library just like you can check out a book so that you can go to museums for free whenever it best fits your schedule. While the passes that each town library offers are different, there are a lot of familiar places in the museum pass program, from Art museums to family science centers to spots like The Intrepid in New York City.
How To Plan a Summer Vacation That Doesn’t Empty Your Wallet
There’s that family vacation we all are dreaming of. But how can you afford it with sky-high childcare payments, increasing gas prices, higher food costs, and a never-ending pile of rising bills? It is possible with savvy purchases and planning.
First, Set A Budget
It’s essential to set a budget for your trip. This way, you’ll know exactly how much money you must spend on each category, including transportation, lodging, meals, and entertainment.
How To Snag Flight Deals
Once you know what you can afford to spend, start looking for deals such as Jetblue’s Tuesday and Wednesday flight sales—or Southwest’s recent one-day sale. Or consider new low-cost airlines like PLAY, serving Iceland and Europe. Follow all the airlines on social media to stay on top of these short-lived sales.
Also, keep alternative airports in mind. For example, while Fort Lauderdale is often pricey, Miami International Airport is much larger, has more flights, and often lower prices, but it is pretty close.
Hotels May Not Be Your Best Bet
Another way to save money on vacation is by booking home-like accommodations or doing timeshare rentals, combining the best resorts and Airbnb condos. By booking a place with a full kitchen, you can make most or all of your meals in your home, bringing the trip’s cost down significantly.
Pre-order your groceries with low-cost Walmart or Aldi, so you can not only meal plan in advance but pick up and go!
Pack Snacks and Drinks For During the Day
When you’re traveling with kids, they are always enticed by fun snacks and drinks when you’re out. But expensive water, soda, and chips at a theme park or beach-side stand can be shockingly expensive.
Even iconic amusement parks like Disney and Legoland allow you to bring in outside food and drink. So bring items from home or add snacks to your grocery order.
Research Discounts Before You Arrive
You can also look into memberships for organizations like AAA, AARP, or active duty military. Finally, search Groupon in your destination for tours, activities, or meals!
When Should You Book Hotels
Prices are often best far in advance or last minute. It’s that middle period when most people book when prices are high. However, if you’ve waited until the last minute, you often can score amazing resort deals from the place looking to fill their empty rooms – as much as 80% off!
Consider Mass Transit or Tourism Transportation
Instead of renting an expensive rental car, please look at what options are in your destination. For example, many beach towns have free trolleys or hop on- hop-off options cheaper than renting a car and perhaps paying expensive overnight parking fees.
Use The Memberships or Annual Passes that You Have
If you have a membership or season pass to museums, science centers, or even theme parks at home, check their reciprocal admission policies. It could mean free admission to places in your vacation destination!
For example, certain Legoland Season passes include tickets to other theme park locations and Madame Tussauds Wax Museums or their partner aquariums.
Make Sure To Pack Everything You Need
Forgetting many items can cost a lot of money when buying items in high-priced tourist shops. Yet, a day at the beach with kids needs a shockingly amount of things like water shoes, life jackets, goggles, and sunscreen, to name a few.
If you’re not a good planner, use a beach trip packing list to get a head start.
Get Everyone’s Buy In and Set a Spending Limit
Before you finalize your family’s summer vacation, talk to your kids about what they would like to do and what they think will be a good fit. Often, this will help you decide how much money to allocate for the activities you have chosen and give your kids a sense of control over what they’ll be doing in the days ahead.
For example, let each family member pick an activity under a specific price point. Or give each kid $20 for fun purchases, such as arcade tokens, toys, extra desserts, etc.
A Disney Vacation is Now Too Costly and Complicated: Here’s Where Families Are Heading for Summer Vacation Instead
68.3% said rampant price increases and nickel and diming have made it feel like Disney World has lost its magic. So parents across the country are making other vacation plans. From wanting to show their kids the world now that borders have re-opened, to showing them the wonder of mother nature, families are saying bye bye to Mickey and Minnie and hello to these vacation destinations.
30 Reasons Families Prefer Legoland Florida to Disney World Theme Parks
20 Cheap Travel Destinations Across America For Fun-Filled Vacations
91% of Americans are looking to practice better personal finance habits. So when it comes time for a vacation, don’t drain all your savings or, worse, go into credit card debt. With over 19,000 cities in America, there are many fantastic cheap travel destinations for a vacation outside of expensive towns like Waikiki, San Diego, Washington D.C., or Chicago.
Here are 20 Budget-Friendly Destinations across America to inspire your next fun-filled vacation.
The 10 Best Campgrounds In America Revealed
According to Campspot research, travelers are more eager than ever to explore the great outdoors, with 69% of those surveyed listing travel to new places to camp as their top travel goal for 2023. If that includes you, take a vacation planning shortcut and book your next adventure to one of these ten campgrounds in America, recently revealed to be the best.
11 of America’s Best Indoor Water Parks for Easy, Fun-Filled Family Vacations
We recently went to our first indoor water park as a family. And we are now converted! If you love exploring the world or destinations across America, I get why you may not consider it for a family vacation with so many vacation spots you’re dreaming of getting to.
But sometimes, you want to pack up and drive a couple of hours and have a blast with your family without planning a trip for weeks ( or months!) And that’s what these fantastic indoor water parks do. It’s instant family fun and a day or two of laughs, smiles, and family memories.
This article was produced by Planner at Heart.