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Traveling Mom: Vacation - without breaking the bank

It seems harder to fit vacation into the budget. Here are five tips for vacationing without breaking the bank.

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Karen Dawkins

Picture your toes sinking into warm sand while the kids splash in the waves. The ocean breeze cools your face as you soak in the sun and the memories. Bliss! Lately, though, it seems harder to fit vacation into the budget. Here are five tips for vacationing without breaking the bank.

1. Vacation budget. Include saving for vacation in the monthly budget. Maybe right now that means only setting aside $25 per month, but it will grow. Keep saving. The amount saved determines the budget for debt free vacationing. Make choices that fit in that budget. Then, vacation debt free! Click here for a travel budget worksheet.
2. Travel closer to home. Choose the Smoky Mountains over the Rocky Mountains, or the beaches of North and South Carolina over Florida. Travel expenses eat up much of the budget: Gas, car maintenance, airline tickets add up. Stay closer to home and save a bundle.
3. Consider lodging options. While hotels offer predictable rooms and amenities, they can be expensive. Consider other options as well: Vacation home rentals, camping, and state parks often provide great lodging at huge savings. Vacation homes and park cabins offer the added benefit of kitchen access for inexpensive meals and greater savings.
4. Factor in other expenses. Those miscellaneous vacation expenses add up so factor them into the budget before travel. Check to see if your destination offers discount cards, such as Nashville’s Total Access Pass, for discounted admission to local attractions. Set costs to consider include (this list is not exhaustive):
Theme park tickets
Other entertainment (Broadway shows, the opera)
Museum tickets
National park admission fees
Ferry costs
Bike, kayak or other adventure costs
Mass transit (subway or metro)


5. Dining expenses. Look up theme park restaurant menus online or perform an internet search of restaurants in the region to get an idea of cost. Determine the daily dining budget before travel to keep spending in check. Preplanning like this helps keep impulse decisions from blowing the budget.

For instance, on a recent trip, we discovered a fantastic ice cream shop, but only after we’d reached the daily dining budget. Rather than blow the budget, we added it to our plans for the following day and made other dining choices accordingly. The dining budget stayed intact and we enjoyed fabulous ice cream, too.

Spending a few hours planning the budget before making the travel plans can lead to debt free vacationing that everyone will enjoy. Know the budget, then choose wisely. You can vacation on any budget!

Read all about Karen Dawkins, a Clayton mom of three, on her blog Family Travels on a Budget, where she provides vacation ideas, travel tips and planning strategies for stress free family travel.


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