If you are planning a summer vacation on a budget, you are not alone. In fact, many American families are completely foregoing summer vacations. You do not have to give up your yearly trip. Instead, just focus on ways to reduce the cost. A great place to start is with your overnight accommodations.
So, how can you lower the cost of lodging when planning a summer vacation on a budget?
Try to stay with friends and family. If you are traveling to a destination where you have friends and family in the area, ask if you can stay with them. This is ideal if your family is small, as it won’t be seen as a big inconvenience. If dealing with family, most will let you stay free of charge. Still, even if you offer to pay $20 a night, it is much cheaper than a $100 a night hotel room.
Consider camping instead. This alternative is cheap and perfect if you have a large family or do not know anyone in the area. State parks and campgrounds are your best and safest camping options. If you don’t already own a tent or two, buy them. You can get great deals at department stores or sporting goods store. To save money, consider buying used or ask to borrow supplies from friends and family. Nightly camping rates vary greatly across the country, but you should pay no more than $50 a night, which is still cheaper than a hotel.
Compare hotels to find the best deal. Most popular vacation destinations have hundreds of hotels to choose from within a reasonable distance. Visit an online travel website. They are nice because they let you compare the cost of multiple hotels in a matter of minutes. Look to find the best deal or the best value for your money. For example, most families are willing to pay more for a hotel with an onsite swimming pool and fitness center. If you aren’t necessarily aiming for the best cost, aim for the best value for your money.
Don’t discount smaller hotels, motels, or even bed and breakfast inns. Sometimes, they charge lower rates, especially if there is a lot of competition nearby. Americans automatically think of well-known hotels, like Holiday Inn. These smaller establishments need to draw attention to themselves and most usually do so with affordable rates.
Avoid traveling during holidays. If you are planning a summer vacation, you are already vacationing in a peak travel season. However, you should try to avoid holidays and weekends. You can expect to pay more for a hotel the weekend of July 4th than the last week in July. Speaking of which, experiment with travel dates. If your plans aren’t set in stone, test out a few different dates. Are the hotel rates different? If so, opt for the cheapest.
Avoid traveling during convention times. Once again, if your travel plans aren’t set, look at what is happening around the area. Is there a popular concert, big sporting event, or business convention hosted that same weekend? If so, the hotels may already be filled. If not, they are likely to charger higher rates.
Bring your own snacks and drinks. Many hotels have onsite restaurants. These are nice, but you aren’t likely to find the lowest prices. They are designed more for convenience than anything else. At the very least, opt for affordable fast food or casual restaurants nearby. However, bring your own snacks and drinks. They are more expensive at convenience stores and in hotel lobbies. For extended trips, it may be wise to pay the extra costs for a suite upgrade that gives you access to a working kitchen. For extended trips, such as 5 days or longer, you will save a lot of money by preparing your own meals.
Staying with friends, at a hotel, or camping are your three cheapest options in terms of overnight accommodations. However, if you have your heart set on a private vacation rental, compare prices, look for discounts, or make it like a double date. Plan your family vacation with another family and spilt the cost of a private rental.
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