Life can get pretty hectic when it comes to balancing work and family needs. Vacations are a great opportunity for families to get a break from it all by hitting pause on day-to-day responsibilities and spending quality time together—that is, if your trip doesn’t leave you with a pounding financial headache.
Although vacations can present new stresses in the money department, there are plenty of tricks you can take advantage of to have some family fun without breaking the bank. For a family getaway that won’t leave you dreading your next credit card statement, try some of these tips on for size!
Plan far in advance
In order to secure the best deals and availability, it’s essential to start planning for vacations as soon as possible. By giving yourself enough time to figure out overall costs, you won’t be pressured into spending more than you need to on last-minute reservations. Ideally, you should also give yourself enough time to save up for confirmed expenses—that way, your trip will be paid off before you go. For the best deals on flights, make plans during the prime booking window, which is anywhere between three weeks and three months before your trip. To ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck, take advantage of flight alerts or comparative hotel booking sites to see which options are best for you.
Use cash instead of credit
Credit cards are convenient, but you’re more prone to losing track of expenses when your transactions are electronic. By sticking to a cash-only budget, you’ll always be aware of what you’ve spent and how much you have left to play with. People are often less impulsive with their purchases when handing over cash instead of swiping a card.
Travel during the off-season
It’s no secret that travel costs can fluctuate wildly throughout the year depending on seasonality. With off-season travelling, you’ll benefit from both cheaper flights and smaller crowds at popular tourist spots—plus, accommodations will be readily available and less expensive.
Buy travel insurance
Whether you have your vacation planned down to the last detail or you’re more of a go-with-the-flow type of traveller, it’s important to prepare for the unexpected if you plan on journeying out of the country. With BCAA Travel Insurance, your family can stay protected for as little as $20 per trip (BCAA members save an additional 10%). Whether you purchase for a single trip or as an annual plan (so you can travel anytime during the year), BCAA insurance offers affordable and flexible coverage so you and your family can travel with peace of mind. Plus, you can get free coverage for your kids (21 and under) when you purchase a family travel plan!
Ask for discounts
The travel industry is competitive, which means everyone is vying for your business. As you’re shopping around for deals, make it known to hotels and car rental agencies that you’re considering going with a competitor. From there, allow them to win you over. Be sure to ask about memberships or loyalty programs as well to see if you qualify for additional discounts. BCAA also offers unique Members Rewards that provide valuable travel savings to their customers.
If a week-long, all-inclusive getaway is financially out of reach, why not try a few days at a lakeside retreat instead? Can’t afford to dine out the whole trip? Cut down on unnecessary expenses by bringing your own snacks or getting a room with a kitchenette. Sometimes you can even score additional savings by choosing a room with a more modest view. Just remember that vacations should be fun, not stressful—so it’s important to be open to alternative, cheaper options.
No matter where you’re going or the size of your family, debt-free vacationing is about determining what you can actually afford. Being smart about travel means investing a little more time and money up front in things like research and travel insurance. But putting in that extra effort will help you and your family travel within your means, which will allow you to fully enjoy your time away and return home relaxed at the end of it.