Traveling with a family on a budget is not always easy, but can be simple as long as you make a plan and stick with it.
Make a few choices.
The first step to planning a family vacation on a budget is deciding where you’ll go, how many days you’ll travel, where you’ll stay, and which form of transportation you’ll be taking. Generally speaking, traveling by car is cheapest. There are exceptions to this rule but for the purposes of this post we will stick with a road trip being ideal.
How far will you travel? If you live in Missouri, for example, you are centrally located to many great states but it’s going to take at least a day or two to drive far enough to see the ocean. What type of vacations do you and your family usually take? If you want something out of the ordinary and you haven’t seen the ocean in a while, go for it!
If you live in San Diego, you could travel to Tucson, Phoenix, Las Vegas, or anywhere in between for a weekend trip. If you live in Texas and you want to travel to New York, it’s going to take a little longer. The longer your trip is, the more expensive it will be because of food, lodging, and gas. You can definitely take a longer trip on a budget, just keep shopping stops to a minimum so you don’t go over your budget each day!
Save money: Traveling on a Budget
Get an oil change and any other necessary maintenance (tire rotation, etc) completed before you take off. Use apps like GasBuddy to save on gas, and make sure you pack lots of snacks and drinks so you don’t have to spend $4 on a Gatorade at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. If you have room for a cooler, you can also pack sandwich supplies and have a picnic at a rest stop. It really just depends on how limited your budget is and where you’re willing to cut back (on food) to spend elsewhere (on a hotel or souvenirs).
Speaking of hotels, check online sites like Travelocity and TripAdvisor to score the best deals. Sometimes you can save big when you book at the last minute, but I don’t like living on the edge like that so I book ahead of time if possible. The problem with booking ahead of time on a road trip is, things come up. Stuff happens. You might not end up at your hotel until 2AM, so you would’ve been better off stopping a few hours back at, say 11PM, to get a decent night’s sleep. If you hit traffic, or get a flat tire, or take longer at rest stops, your hotel plans could be thrown off track.
When you’re traveling with a family, especially when you have little ones, being flexible is extremely important. You might take the wrong route, or have to take a detour due to construction. You might get stuck in traffic or get a flat tire. Things happen, but the important part is how you react to those things. Show your kids that this vacation is about making memories, not about everything being perfect.
Don’t be afraid to splurge.
I know it seems silly to say something like “don’t be afraid to splurge” when I’m writing a post about traveling on a budget, but some things are worth splurging for! Some families like to splurge on trinkets and souvenirs while others prefer to splurge on hotel stays. Some would rather rent a car and spend a little extra than put the miles on their own car. No matter which items you’d like to splurge on, as long as you stay on track with the rest of your budget, you’ll be fine! Sometimes splurging on a little somethin’ for yourself (like a mud bath at the spa!) is nice, too.
Earn Free Gift Cards: Traveling on a Budget
You can also earn free gift cards by downloading rewards apps and using them. Your’re probably thinking yeah right, there is no way I can earn free gift cards. That’s ok I was skeptic too, til my mom was like no this works! I mean who is going to tell mom she is wrong?
Fetch Rewards – So basically all you need to do is download the Fetch Rewards app and enter the code: EF9PC and scan any grocery, hardware store, pet store or gas receipt within 7 days and you will get a bonus of 2,000 points. Grocery receipts can be up to 14 days old. You will get points for every receipt you scan and bonus points for certain brands. Then you can redeem those points for FREE gift cards like Amazon, Walmart, Cabelas and many more! As you can see I have enough points in my account right now to redeem for a FREE $50 gift card!
ShopKick App – Shopkick is an app you down load on your smart phone. Using the app you’ll get points for scanning products in the store and points for just walking in the door. You can also link your bankcard card and earn points for shopping at your favorite stores.
Once the app is downloaded onto your iPhone or Android phone, it recognizes when you go into participating stores, restaurants and more. That’s how you get the walk-in points. Just make sure the you open up Shopkick on your phone before entering the store. Stop right inside the door and wait for your app to confirm your location. Once it does a circle will pop up on your screen with your points on it. Use code: CONSUMERQUEEN when you sign up to get 500 bonus points when you walk into a store and earn at least 10 kicks within 7 days.
7-11 Rewards app – Planning a roadtrip? Download the 7-11 Rewards app. When you download the app it automatically gives you 800 points which you can redeem for FREE FOOD like Pizza, Coffee, snacks and more! BUT…… if you ENTER CODE: wg5oya it will give you 1,000 points. That 200 extra bonus points! Once you hit 1200 points you will unlock even more rewards.
They will also give you points for purchasing certain items in their store. For example for a limited time you get 200 points just for buying two taquitos. You will also earn 10 points for every dollar you spend on eligible items in store.
What’s your best tip for traveling on a budget? Let me know in the comments!
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