There’s nothing like a pandemic to make you feel like you’ve just gotta get out of town. For that matter, there’s no greater reminder of the brevity of life and the need to seize each day.
If you’ve been putting off your family vacation, overwhelmed by the hassle and expense of planning one, hang tight. There are some surefire ways to prepare for a family trip that can make going a blast. With mindful planning and prioritization, you’ll be able to relax once you hit the road.
1. Start a Vacation Fund Now
Dreams don’t happen unless you put in the work. This holds true with most things, including executing on a big family vacation. Start saving toward your vacay before you open a travel app. If your bank offers a vacation savings account, consider isolating your savings. Naming your savings goal can help inspire consistent effort and reduce the temptation of dipping into it.
Set up a regular deposit amount and treat your savings like a bill. Create rules around savings that can help you reach your goal faster. For example, agree to pay your savings account the same amount you spend on a coffee at a local coffee shop. Here, you treat yourself and add to your goal.
2. Drill Down on a Doable Daily Cost
Before you start contemplating first-class flights and all-inclusive resorts, you should determine what amount you’re comfortable spending each day. Review your usual debit card transactions and bank activity to identify your usual spending habits. While you’ll still be paying your rent/mortgage and utilities while you’re on your trip, you won’t be buying groceries. Isolate the usual spending you can dedicate toward vacation expenses along with what you’ve saved.
Identifying this number can help you as you research potential travel locations on behalf of your family. If your adult family members are planning on splitting the cost of lodging, ask them for their daily spending figure, too. Bringing up the financial conversation early can reduce uncomfortable and budget-busting decisions later.
3. Be Flexible With Your Location and Look for Cost-Saving Opportunities
Beach or mountains? City or country? Tourist-focused or an undiscovered gem? Consider your family’s style and what location would suit the people attending. Are you and your siblings planning an adults-only getaway? You may choose differently than if the infant-to-teen crowd is coming along.
Your location will also influence how you spend on dining and entertainment. Beachside locales can be cost-efficient, as you’ll likely spend most of the time on the sand. If your destination is more attractions-focused, you’ll need to account for admissions and fares.
4. Be Open to Different Travel Dates
If you’re trying to fit in a vacay over a school break period, you may be competing with other families. In this case, planning ahead is your best bet for finding a trip that works for your family. If you’ve got more flexibility, you can snag the best deal.
Some popular locations require a week-long rental commitment, which can put a crimp in even the healthiest budgets. Review any requirements before you get your heart set on a particular location.
Consider traveling mid-week to get the lowest rate on accommodations. Most travel and lodging sites display their availability and daily prices. Find the sweet spot between bookings, and you can save big-time.
5. Find Lodging That Suits Your Needs and Your Budget
The burgeoning home rental business has really changed the vacation game. Never before would you have been able to book lodging for a dozen people for just a few hundred dollars a night. Often, you can book a multi-bedroom and -bath home, complete with kitchen, lounge area, and parking. If you’ve got a big crew, a vacation home rental may suit your needs.
With a home, you can plan to cook most meals, vastly decreasing the trip’s dining budget. You’ll also reduce the hassle that comes with large group dining, which often entails an automatic added gratuity. As you consider your needs for social distancing, a home rental can provide peace of mind.
If your location’s attractions and dining options are more of a draw, a low-frills rental may be ideal. A safe place to sleep, change, and clean up before your next adventure can be both low-budget and convenient. No matter your choice, plot out your group’s needs and solicit input before you hit “Book.” Selecting accommodations that everyone can agree on will increase the likelihood that your group will have a great time.
6. Sort Out Spending Sources Before You Leave
Now that you’ve budgeted for your trip, you’re golden, right? You may be, but if you’re splitting the cost with your extended family, you should have the chat about money now. Even among families, the discussion about collecting on a debt is uncomfortable. But doing so is necessary to keep your budget and the getaway on track. Hard feelings thanks to unpaid debts can ruin a vacation in an instant.
Before you start booking, agree on the method of paying for things. If you plan on booking on everyone’s behalf, get buy-in on how and when you’ll be reimbursed. Then be sure to reinforce the agreement when it’s time to share the cost. Discuss how you’ll cover expenses on the trip as well. Paying for gas, dinner, and groceries can easily bust a budget. With a plan in place, you can fairly distribute the cost of your big family jaunt.
Make Memories Without a Looming Bill
Just as the holidays can inspire on-the-fly spending, so can a vacation. Eliminate the post-vacay financial hangover by planning now and avoiding charging your expenses, making them another day’s problem.
When you prepare for vacation spending now, you can spend your trip relaxing and enjoying your time away. Once you’re back into your daily routine, you can direct your refreshed energy toward planning your next well-funded excursion.