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Last Updated on April 14, 2017 by Diane Hoffmaster
Family vacations aren't always cheap but they are a great way to relax and reconnect with your family. Vacations don't always need to be expensive to be one of the best times of your life. You don't actually need to go to a 5-star hotel and eat only in the most exclusive restaurants. Some of the best memories you can make with your family will be on a family vacation. Your child won't remember the quality of the hotel you stayed at but they will remember the card games, trips to the beach and all that togetherness that you enjoyed. That being said, you may still need to find ways to save for a vacation before you head out of town. Gas isn't cheap, even if you are only going a few hours away. Here are a few ways to save for vacation and some affiliate links for things that might help.
Creative Ways to Save for a Vacation
Despite not having enough money for some ritzy international vacation, there are plenty of ways to save for a vacation, for a real vacation, where you and your family will have the best time of your life. Have you thought about any of these money saving tips to fill up the piggy bank before you go?
Open a Dedicated Vacation Bank Account
Don't just put your vacation slush fund into your checking account or you are likely to spend it on stuff you don't need. Open up a dedicated vacation bank account and put away a small amount every week. You can set up automatic payments into the account and let it grow until it’s time for your trip.
Pick Up a Side Job
If you really want to save for a vacation, you may need to make a bit more money for a while. Consider applying for a part time job that is relatively easy. Grocery store clerk? Personal assistant? Job choices will vary depending on where you live and your own personal skills.
Sell Your Stuff
We all have more stuff than we really need. Why not have that unwanted stuff earn you a bit of money. Have a garage sale, list a few things on eBay or Craigslist. Take old books to the second-hand bookstore or consign a few nice outfits that you don't need anymore. Just make sure that all the money you earn gets put directly into your vacation fund.
Make Your Credit Card Work for You
My husband and I have switched to credit cards that help us earn things we need for our vacations. We have one that accrues airline miles and another for a well-known outdoor retailer that helps fund our camping and hiking trips. Consider switching to a credit card that will help you earn money to put towards your family vacation.
Sacrifice Now for Fun Later
Cutting expenses has got to be one of your ways to save for a vacation. Look at your monthly expenses and see what absolutely doesn't have to stay. Ditch the cable TV, get rid of your gym membership, stop buying so many things off Amazon just because it is cheap and you get free shipping. Every penny you don't spend now is one that can be put towards your family vacation.
Skip Grocery Shopping for a Week
No, your family won't starve using this method. Mary Hunt, from Debtproofliving.com, calls this money-raising challenge the “Pantry Week.” Try to live off the food in your pantry for one week and don't grocery shop. I know that my pantry is STOCKED and yes, the kids may run out of their favorite snack foods but we aren't going to starve if I can't shop for a week. After your week is over, pocket that grocery money into your vacation fund.
Get the Whole Family Involved
While you are thinking of ways to save for a vacation, make sure your kids know why you are cutting expenses. This way they will be less likely to complain. Make up a wall chart or use a large dry erase board to map your savings progress. Use travel stickers and colorful markers to highlight your savings accomplishments. Reward the family with a home movie or a top your own ice cream night when you reach certain milestones. That way, when you say 'no, we can't afford that', they will understand why.
Why You Need a Family Vacation
Over the years, we have taken a ton of family vacations. We drive a 17-year-old car and my kids still get second-hand clothes from Plato's Closet but we splurge on our vacations. Yes, that flat tire on the highway was miserable at the time but now we can look back on it and laugh. The inexpensive 'artist cottage' on the beach was a really tight fit for the four of us but we made some amazing memories that week. Family vacations aren't always perfect but they help strengthen your family unit and give you and your kids some great memories to look back on. Here are a few ways that your family vacation can be a really meaningful experience.
- Planning is key. Planning is an important part of a family vacation and involving the kids is a great idea. Letting them get involved in planning is a great way to find out what will be meaningful to THEM. Get a travel journal and write down their ideas.
- Enjoy the journey. Making sure that everyone enjoys the journey is something that you need to think about. Bringing activities and books, playing fun games, stopping at cool places and taking some memorable photos are just some of the things that will make all the family members enjoy the journey. Let the kids help you put together a travel scrapbook when you get home.
- Learn Through Experiences. There's no doubt that kids learn better when they are trying to do things on their own. Tasting new foods, meeting different people, and smelling fresh fruit from a tree are some experiences they will love and remember.
- Promote Family Bonding: It really doesn't matter where you're planning on going. The only thing that really matters is that you have a good time as a family. It's incredible how much you'll be able to learn with your kids and about them as well. This is why I don't allow the kids to bring friends on our family vacations. I know some families do this but for us, a family vacation is a bonding experience for US, not for them and their friends.
- Expands Their Horizons: It's important that children expand their horizons so that they can understand the world around them. They need to understand that different people have different social norms and that is important to respect them. Talk to them about the culture you are visiting and see how it compares to the one you live in day to day.
- Try Different Things: Take a family vacation that is little more adventurous and try out new things! Vacations is a perfect time to explore new activities and you can do it all together. We went whitewater rafting and that sort of terrified all of us but it was an amazing experience!
These are only some of the benefits of a family vacation and the ways to save for a vacation. It may take you a whole year to save for a weekend in the next state. Or it may only take you a few months to save for a trip to London. Whatever your financial state is, take a close look and see if you can afford to save for a vacation. The memories you make together as a family will last you all a lifetime.
Do you have any family vacations planned this year?
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.