Planning Our Budget Friendly Family Vacation

My Journey out of Debt

Featured customers currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Relief Plan, share journey to become debt-free; hear how they juggle family, finances, and more.

Planning Our Budget Friendly Family Vacation

  • Comments 3

We've been to Florida before; it was a jam packed, adventure filled week, with a different theme park every day.  We went to whatever restaurants we wanted to in the evenings and allowed the kids to get whatever souvenirs they wanted. 

Of course that was when I had the unending resources of a wallet full of plastic cards at my disposal.  We're going to Florida again in a few weeks, but this vacation is going to be very different.  We have a budget, and we will need to carefully plan out our expenditures. 

My wife and I have discussed the various ways to bring down the cost of the trip as much as possible, while still having a great time. 

Rental car company.  Shop around and find out which one will give you the best deal. Ask if they offer any discounts. I get a corporate discount (even when on a personal trip) from my employer, but other discounts are available as well.  One rental car company actually offered a discount for having a Discover card. I didn't have to use it, but just by saying I had one, they were willing to offer me a discount. If you're a AAA member, you may also qualify for discounts. 

Rental car size. We're a family of four - two adults and two kids ages 11 and 8.  In the past when we've rented a car, we've gotten a full sized car.  Could we get by with just a midsize car?  Maybe. The difference is about $30 which to me is enough to make me think about it. 

Eat In, or eat out?  We're staying with some friends at their timeshare, which happens to have a full kitchen.  We plan on using it to eat in as many meals as possible.  Each family member will be able to choose a night to pick a restaurant they want to go to, the other evening (and day) meals we plan to cook ourselves.  

Included meals.  The complex we're staying in offers free breakfast on some days during scheduled hours.  During the last trip, we didn't take advantage of this because the time it was offered was earlier than we got out of bed. You mean I can eat breakfast for free if we get up 30 minutes earlier?  Honey, can you set the alarm, for 7:00am?  Yes, I know we're on vacation, but I'm in the mood for waffles. 

Eating out at a discount. Many employers now offer deals for employees while on personal trips.  Checking through my company's list of offerings I ran across several options that can make a significant dent in our dining out bill. 

  • Kids eat free card.   At participating restaurants (which are listed), kids eat free with a paying adult.  I get a discount through my employer, but even at the full price of $20, it won't take many uses to save some money with this one.   Many restaurants also have kids eat free programs on certain days of the week even without a card.  You can find a list of these programs on the internet as well. 
  • Entertainment guide.   There is a different book for most major cities in the country.  My brother-in-law bought one of these for the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and it was full of 2 for 1 deals, and 50% deals at restaurants.  I get a discount on the price through my employer, but even at full price this thing is worth its weight in gold.  

Check out the menu. Have you ever gone to a restaurant with an amount in mind that you'd like to spend, only to be shocked at the prices when you open the menu, or unpleasantly surprised when you get the check?  Most restaurants have their menus online.  Look at the menu, and if the prices are too expensive, pick a different restaurant.  Pick out what you are going to order before you even get in the car. 

Activities.  As mentioned, the last time we went to Florida, we went to a theme park every day.  We got to that day's conquest right at opening, and shut the place down in the evening.  By the end of the week, we were completely exhausted.  Sure it was fun, but not very relaxing...which is what I really want to get out of at least part of my vacation.  This time, we're doing things differently. 

  • We're only going to one theme park. We picked Busch Gardens because the rides are spectacular and it offered a "second day free" option.  We could go twice during the week for the price of a single ticket. 
  • Beach days. We're going to spend one day on the Gulf of Mexico side of the state, and another day on the ocean side.  You may have to pay for parking, but other than that, beach days can be pretty inexpensive (especially if you bring your own food!). 
  • Condo complex activities.  The timeshare we're staying at has several great pools that we can use for free.  My kids never tire of splashing around in the water in the hot summer sunshine (I can hear the echo of my son screaming "Cannonball" already).  Additionally, they have mini golf, paddle boats, bicycling and other activities for a minimal cost.  They also offer evening activities such as BBQ night. Cross that evening meal off the list. 

Sometimes, just by asking some questions, or sacrificing just a little convenience, you can save yourself some real money and make your awesome family vacation just a little less expensive. 

Do you have any other ideas on how I can save some money while on vacation with my family?  We don't leave for a couple of weeks, so post your ideas in the comments, and see how much money you can save me! 

Your comment has been posted.   Close
Thank you, your comment requires moderation so it may take a while to appear.   Close
Leave a Comment
  • * Please enter your name
  • * Please enter a comment
  • Share
  • The main message of the blog is that even if you are in debt, you can afford anything. You just cannot afford everything. Obviously there are limits to this, as there's no way I can afford a $30 million dollar mansion, but I think you get the idea.

  • So, we made a deal with my son. He could get a phone, but he has to pay the five dollars a month. We figured this would be a good opportunity to teach him that working hard allows him to have extra privileges.

  • Being thankful for what you have should never be taken for granted, and the holiday of Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to really put it into focus, if for but one day.

Page 1 of 1 (3 items)