Taking trips together is one of the most exciting things you can do as a family. However, it can also be quite expensive and stressful — particularly when you haven’t planned very well. In order to avoid racking up debt and to make the trip as enjoyable as possible for the whole family, it’s important to plan thoroughly and keep a look out for good deals. Whether you’re a new family or seasoned travelers, these five tips can help your traveling experience be more cost-effective and less stressful:
As soon as you decide to take a trip, start planning it. The more time you leave for yourself, the more carefully you can plan each aspect of the trip, thereby reducing costs and stress. Talk with the family and explore ideas for where you could go, which activities you could do, and when you should go. This is the stage where you get everyone’s ideas out there so that you can spend time formulating a trip that offers something for everyone.
Work in a Date Night
While you’re planning, consider scheduling a date night for you and your spouse. Many parents find that going out and doing activities just the two of them helps to rekindle their romance; you could do something outdoorsy like hiking, biking, or canoeing, or go to a sporting event both of you are interested in. Or, you could keep it traditional and reconnect at a romantic restaurant. Check out this article from the Thrillist for some creative date ideas in the San Francisco Bay area. If you don’t have any friends or family nearby to watch your kids, consider hiring a babysitter so you can get some quality time together.
Choose Budget-Friendly Options
While you’re planning your trip, research budget-friendly options for accommodations, food, and transportation. For instance, you can often find top-notch vacation rentals for much cheaper than a hotel, and you can set a limit of dining out once a day and cook in the rest of the time to save money. As far as transportation goes, using public transportation is the most cost-effective method, but for larger families it can be comparable to rent a car in some instances.
Plan Your Packing
Packing is another important part of getting ready for a trip. Like the rest of your planning, it’s never too early to start making a packing list for each family member. Think of anything each person might need, and jot it down on the list. You should have a fairly comprehensive list by the time you leave for your trip, and you can continue developing the packing list over time — making changes as needed for future trips. Also, if you get your packing list together early, you will have more time to find good prices on the items you need.
Don’t Try to Do Too Much
Finally, plan your trip so that you can actually relax and have fun. When you have kids, trying to tour eight towns in 14 days could be a nightmare. Keep it simple whenever possible, and limit your daily itineraries to only a few activities. This will not only save you money, but it will also make it easier for everyone in the family to kick back and enjoy your time together, as well as leave a little room for spontaneity.
A family vacation is meant to be a time to relax, have fun, and enjoy each other’s company. Be sure to start planning the details early on, and consider adding a date night to the mix. Research cost-effective options for accommodations, food, and transportation, and make a packing list of things each family member might need. Lastly, leave room to breathe on the trip by not overbooking activities. If you implement tips like these on your next trip, you’ll find that you save a significant amount of money and stress.
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