It’s that time of year again—the time when your children celebrate the end of school and start planning their summer fun. From summer school, camps and of course, family vacations, summer can be an exciting time of the year for the entire family.
However, if your family is like mine, you are probably trying to cut back on unnecessary expenses and save for the future. From hotels, rental cars, airfare, souvenir and food costs, the expenses from a family vacation can add up. But don’t let this stop you from creating long-lasting memories this summer.
Instead of flying to the Caribbean or visiting a commercialized theme park, consider traveling to a location closer to home and taking a road trip with your family. Even with rising gas prices, a road trip can often be an extremely affordable option when its time to plan your annual summer vacation.
Although planning a cheap road may seem like an art, it is not as difficult or time consuming as it seems. Here are five easy ways to save money on a family vacation, without skimping on fun or excitement:
Eating out can be expensive, especially when you are with the entire family. While I am certainly not suggesting that you pack enough food for every meal, consider skipping the fast food pit stops and bringing food for the car ride instead. This way you are not only eating healthier, you can also use the money you save to enjoy the local grub once you arrive at your destination.
Instead of waiting until the week before you leave to purchase items you need for your vacation, start looking through your local newspapers now to find the best deals on items such as sunscreen, beach bags, GPS devices and bug spray. Often times, large grocery chains will offer “Catalina” deals where you can actually earn gift cards for purchasing items you’ll need for a successful family vacations.
If your work schedule is fairly flexible and you are able to take a few days off of work, consider leaving on a Sunday and returning on a Wednesday. This way, you will not only avoid the weekend rush of tourists, but often, prices for hotels are cheaper. Consider visiting sites such as Expedia.com, HotWire.com and Kayak.com before you book your hotel.
While there are many coloring books, crosswords and games you can purchase to keep you kids entertained on the road, there are also many free options online you can print out to save money. Consider finding some printable coloring pages for kids on the Internet. This way you can print a couple of sheets for them to color individually instead of buying a whole book that they have to share.
Stopping and accelerating suddenly and speeding are not only dangerous driving habits, they can also affect your car’s gas mileage. According to a Consumer Reports study, these types of habits can reduce your car’s fuel efficiency by two to three miles per gallon. Smooth driving can also help you extend the life of your car’s engine, transmission, brakes and tires.