Top Tips to Save Money on Family Vacations: Deals, Discounts & More

by | Mar 10, 2024 | Travel Tips For All Ages

Family vacations are the stuff of cherished memories, laughter, and bonding. But let's face it, they can also be a strain on the wallet. With a little creativity and planning, however, it's entirely possible to trim the costs without trimming the fun.

From choosing off-peak travel times to embracing local experiences, there are countless ways to save money while still making those precious family moments happen. In the following sections, we'll dive into practical tips and tricks that'll help you plan an unforgettable family getaway without breaking the bank.

Choose Off-Peak Travel Times

When planning a family vacation, selecting the right time to travel can significantly lower expenses. Many people aren't aware that prices for flights, accommodations, and attractions often fluctuate based on seasonality and demand. By choosing to travel during off-peak times, families can enjoy substantial savings.

Why Off-Peak?

Traveling when fewer people are vacationing not only saves money but also enhances the quality of the vacation. During these periods, popular destinations are less crowded, allowing families to savor their experiences without the hustle and bustle typical of peak seasons. Additionally, shoulder seasons—the periods between peak and off-peak—offer a great balance of mild weather and reduced costs.

  • Research: Before booking, research to find the off-peak season of your desired destination. This varies widely depending on the location.
  • Flexible Scheduling: If possible, be flexible with your travel dates. Even shifting your departure by a day or two can yield cheaper flights and accommodation rates.
  • Advantages of Weekdays: Flying out on weekdays instead of weekends can also cut costs significantly.
  • Special Deals: Often, hotels and attractions offer special rates during off-peak times to attract visitors, so look out for these bargains.

By aligning your family vacation with these off-peak travel strategies, you can stretch your budget further while still creating those priceless memories. Remember, it’s not just about saving money—it’s about making savvy choices that enhance the overall vacation experience.

Opt for Budget-Friendly Accommodation

When planning a family vacation, accommodation costs can take a big bite out of the budget. However, with a bit of research and flexibility, families can discover a variety of budget-friendly options that don't compromise on comfort or location.

One of the first steps is to look beyond traditional hotels. Vacation rentals, such as those found on Airbnb or Vrbo, often offer more space at a lower price point, especially for larger families. These properties can come with added benefits like a kitchen, which allows families to save further by preparing some meals at home.

Hostels are another cost-effective option, with many offering private family rooms. Contrary to the common perception, modern hostels can be clean, safe, and located in central areas, making them a great base for exploring.

Camping provides an adventurous alternative for families willing to embrace the great outdoors. Not only is it significantly cheaper than most accommodations, but it also offers unique opportunities for family bonding and connecting with nature.

Here are a few tips to maximize savings on accommodation:

  • Book early to secure the best rates and wider selection.
  • Use comparison websites to find deals and discounts.
  • Consider staying slightly off the beaten path. Accommodations just a few miles outside of major tourist areas are often more affordable.
  • Sign up for loyalty programs. Many chain hotels offer rewards programs that can lead to discounts or free nights over time.

By taking these steps, families can enjoy a comfortable stay during their vacation without straining their finances. With the money saved on accommodation, families have more to spend on experiences, dining, and making lasting memories together.

Pack Snacks and Meals

When planning a family vacation, keeping everyone well-fed without breaking the bank, can be a challenge. It's easy to overlook the cost of meals, but they can quickly add up, especially for larger families. An effective way to stretch your budget is by packing snacks and meals for your trip. This doesn’t just apply to road trips but can also be a game changer for air travel and sightseeing days.

Bringing your own snacks ensures that everyone has something to nibble on between meals, reducing the need for expensive impulse buys. It's helpful to pack a variety of healthy options such as fruits, nuts, granola bars, and sandwiches. These can be lifesavers during long flights, car rides, or while exploring attractions. Water bottles are also essential to keep the family hydrated without having to purchase beverages at a premium.

For those staying in accommodations with kitchen facilities, preparing meals can significantly reduce food expenses. Breakfasts and dinners can be made with ease, allowing families to splurge on a few special meals out rather than every meal. Popular and budget-friendly meal choices include pasta dishes, stir-fries, and tacos.

Here are some additional tips for meal planning:

  • Plan meals in advance to ensure you have everything you need.
  • Buy groceries at local markets to experience regional flavors and save money.
  • Use a cooler to keep perishables fresh during road trips or day outings.
  • Involve the whole family in meal preparation for a fun activity.

By incorporating these strategies, families can enjoy a variety of delicious, cost-effective meals and snacks. Not only does this approach save money, but it also provides opportunities for family bonding over cooking and shared meals. With a bit of planning and creativity, eating well on vacation can be both enjoyable and affordable.

Embrace Local Experiences

Vacationing does not always mean splurging on expensive attractions and entertainment. One of the most memorable and budget-friendly ways families can enrich their travel experience is by embracing local experiences. Often, these activities offer a deeper insight into the culture and lifestyle of the destination at a fraction of the cost.

Local markets are treasure troves of culture, craftsmanship, and culinary delights. Walking through these markets, families can sample local foods, purchase unique souvenirs directly from artisans, and even find fresh ingredients for a meal if they're staying somewhere with a kitchen. This not only supports the local economy but can also significantly reduce the vacation food budget.

Another way to save while soaking in the culture is to look for free or low-cost local events. Many destinations host community events like outdoor concerts, festivals, and art shows that offer families a taste of local life without the hefty price tag. Public beaches, parks, and hiking trails provide hours of entertainment and scenic beauty for just the cost of getting there.

Engaging in these kinds of activities encourages families to explore beyond the tourist traps and create meaningful connections with the places they visit. It's the spontaneous soccer game with local kids, the impromptu picnic by a scenic viewpoint, or the storytelling session with a local elder that often become the highlights of a family vacation.

To find these experiences, asking locals for recommendations or using social media and travel forums can unveil hidden gems not found in guidebooks. This approach not only enriches the vacation but does so in a way that's kind to the wallet.

Utilize Discount Deals and Coupons

When planning a family vacation, finding ways to save money can enhance the experience by freeing up funds for unexpected adventures. One effective method to achieve this is by utilizing discount deals and coupons. These discounts can significantly cut costs on a variety of vacation expenses, from accommodations to entertainment.

Research Before Booking

Before making any bookings, they should thoroughly research available discounts. Websites and apps dedicated to travel deals are treasure troves for savvy travelers. They can offer exclusive discounts on hotels, rental cars, and attractions. In addition, many travel destinations provide bundled deals, combining lodging, meals, and activities at a lower price than if purchased separately.

Sign Up for Alerts

Signing up for email alerts from favorite travel sites and local attractions can be a game-changer. Often, businesses send out special promotions and last-minute deals to their email subscribers that aren't available to the general public. It's also wise to follow these entities on social media for real-time updates on flash sales.

Use Membership Benefits

Many families overlook the potential savings tied to their memberships in organizations such as AAA, AARP, or even wholesale clubs like Costco. These memberships often include travel-related benefits, such as discounted rates on hotels and car rentals, and sometimes even tickets to theme parks and museums. Checking the terms of these memberships can uncover hidden savings.

By incorporating these strategies, families can dramatically reduce their vacation expenses. This approach doesn't just apply to the big-ticket items. Even smaller savings, such as discounts on meals or buy-one-get-one-free deals on attractions, can add up over the course of a trip, leaving more room in the budget for making cherished family memories.

Key Takeaways

  • Choose off-peak travel times for substantial savings on flights, accommodations, and attractions, while enjoying less crowded destinations and better overall experiences.
  • Opt for budget-friendly accommodation options such as vacation rentals, hostels, or camping to enjoy comfortable stays without overspending, making use of strategies like booking early and staying slightly outside major tourist areas for better deals.
  • Pack snacks and meals, especially when having access to a kitchen, to significantly cut down on food expenses, allowing for more budget flexibility and family bonding over meal preparation and dining.
  • Embrace local experiences, such as visiting local markets and participating in community events, to enrich travel experiences affordably while supporting the local economy and bypassing tourist traps.
  • Utilize discount deals and coupons by researching before booking, signing up for alerts, and leveraging membership benefits to save on accommodations, entertainment, and more, thus freeing up funds for unexpected adventures and experiences.


Saving money on family vacations doesn't have to mean skimping on the fun. With a bit of planning and savvy shopping, families can enjoy all the excitement of travel without breaking the bank. By taking advantage of discounts and bundling offers, there's more room in the budget for those unforgettable moments that make vacations truly special. So next time you're planning a family getaway, remember these tips. They're not just about saving money—they're about making priceless memories without the price tag.