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Summer Travel Budgeting Tips and Hacks

As a kid I always looked forward to summer—no school, long days and nights playing hide and seek, and popsicles.   As an adult, I still look forward to summer.  There’s something about summer that seems freeing and where working concerns seem to take the back burner.  Summer is also the time when families pack up and head off to spend some well-deserved time on vacation.  For some people, vacations are a time to let loose where money is no concern but for most people, just because you’re on a vacation doesn’t mean you can take a budgeting break.  I’ve put together a list of travel budgeting tips and hacks from many people to help you as you plan your next vacation.

Thinking about accommodations

  • Booking rooms with mini kitchenettes in them so we can cut the cost of food by cooking ourselves lunches and snacks and being able to save leftovers for next day! It helped us so much on our last trip! —Amanda, Omaha, NE Mom
  • Stay with friends/Family whenever you can—we’re driving to a wedding in Houston in October because flights are ridiculous…we’re staying with my cousin in Oklahoma to break up the trip! We’ll save money on hotels & we get to catch up with family I don’t get to see often! —Kelly, Omaha, NE Mom
  • We use the hopper flight tracker app (and I’m sure there are other apps like this) that tracks flight rates over time and alerts you when prices drop for certain dates/cities. —Ellen, Omaha, NE Mom
  • Flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday (sometimes Saturdays) can be cheaper. –Jim, Omaha, NE Dad
  • If you are traveling to a resort or going on a cruise, check if they have a price guarantee. After you book, if you find a lower price, they will refund you the difference. I’m sure many hotels would do this as well, definitely worth checking/asking! —Ellen, Omaha, NE Mom
  • Choose the hotel that includes breakfast. With kids, it’s much easier than trying to get everyone ready for the day and find a restaurant to appease rumbly tummies. –Audra, Omaha, NE Mom
  • Choose your favorite hotel chain, airline, rental car company, etc. Join their loyalty program, and when you travel, be consistent and stay at that hotel, fly on that airline. You may not save money on the first trip, but eventually, those rewards will add up. –John, Omaha, NE Dad

Preparing for the trip

  • I have started Amazon Priming myself food/snacks to my destination. I just call ahead and make sure I can receive a package and then I order it about 4 days before we are going to be there! It has worked awesome the last few times I have done it!!! –Abby, Omaha, NE Mom
  • When we travel to Estes Park, we buy our groceries here and put them in a cooler. That way we don’t have to pay the tourist prices. Works great! —Molley, Omaha, NE Mom
  • One of my favorites is to buy season passes during promo times where a buddy pass is offered. Then, only buy passes for half your family and use buddy passes to all get in together throughout the year. Regional theme parks will often offer such a deal and my family has been able to go for several times a year for what a single visit might cost us. This also works with water parks as well. —Kathleen, Little Rock, AR Mom
  • If traveling by plane buy a cheaper but safe car seat to take with you. The airlines can be so rough on the car seat if you check it, so this prevents a greater loss. –Samantha, Omaha, NE Mom

While you’re actually traveling

  • Everyone gets a water bottle. I always travel with a water bottle and fill up in gas stations while driving, water fountains when flying, and wherever I can when I’m at the place.  It helps save money without buying expensive bottles of water and you stay hydrated. —Jamie, Omaha, NE Mom
  • If we are traveling in the car for a long day trip we pack sandwiches and all the snacks we need so we don’t have to eat out on the way there. We also try and pack enough kids snacks to last us the whole trip—Michelle, Omaha, NE Mom
  • Download things off Netflix to play offline. I used to pay a fortune renting/buying movies or shows for my kids but you can download a lot of stuff off Netflix and it will work when you’re not connected to the internet!!! We travel a ton so this was huge for us. —Abby, Omaha, NE Mom

Once you’re there

  • Airbnb and using Groupon or Living Social for activities. —Kristy, Omaha, NE Mom
  • Don’t eat all meals in a restaurant. Check out the delis and the grocery store for good affordable meals. —Kim, Omaha, NE Mom
  • Invest in a good travel guide! $15 can save you hundreds by helping you to find affordable and comfortable places to stay that you’d probably not find on your own (I’m currently planning a trip to Ontario and couldn’t find a refundable hotel room in Toronto for less than $300 (CAD). I spent HOURS hunting for something. I broke down and bought a $15 (USD) travel guide and already have several options that are less than $200 (CAD). —Susan, Jacksonville, FL fur baby Mom

Alternative traveling budget tips

  • The happiness found on a vacation is not directly proportional to the amount of money spent. Family camping trips may provide just as much happiness as flying across the country! —Derek, Detroit, MI Dad
  • Staycation! Be home town tourists. So often people have not visited museums, parks, etc. right nearby. —Jennifer, Lincoln, NE Mom

And sometimes it’s not even about saving money but saving sanity!

Making travel a little easier

  • Save yourself the future therapy bills and spring for plane tickets. So much faster and easier than driving. –Catherine, Omaha, NE Mom
  • Babierge is a service available in bigger cities where you can rent things you may need- was so convenient and affordable. The independent rep dropped off car seat and stroller combo to my rental car location and picked it up there too! Less is more! –Lindsey, Omaha, NE Mom

With a little planning summer family vacations can be fun without breaking the bank!  Just think, if you save enough money on one trip, maybe that means you can go on another! 



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