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Tips to Save Money for the Family Summer Vacation

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save money for vacation
Regardless of whether you travel or have a staycation, summer vacations when the children are out of school can be very expensive if you don’t plan ahead and look for as many ways to save money as possible.
With the kids home all day, your grocery bill will surely increase. During the summer months, buy your snacks and drinks in bulk to help on costs. 
Summer is also the time many families plan those family trips so here are some suggestions to help save.

How Can I Save Money for Summer Vacation?

  1. Set Up a Separate Vacation Savings Account
  2. Utilize Automatic Transfer
  3. Determine Your Vacation Costs Now
  4. Use Last Year’s Bonus
  5. Use Your Tax Return
  6. Get A Side Job
  7. Cut Out Extras
  8. Save Your Change
  9. Sell Stuff
  10. Get (and stay) motivated

Draw Up a Budget

No matter where you are during the summer, try to set yourself a daily allowance and try not to go over. You might wish to get a small notebook you can carry around with you easily so you can keep track of what you are spending when you are out with the kids.
save money for vacation

Summer Camp

Summer camps such as the YMCA enroll early, sometimes as early as January depending on the facility. They also offer scholarships, but you need to apply in advance. The same is true for their sleepaway camps. Check to see if your child is old enough for sleep-away. Room and board will be included, and all activities. 

Put Money in a Savings Account

Plan ahead for those extra summer expenses. Set aside some money every week for the summer, starting in January. Even your weekly grocery bill is higher during the summer months with the kids home all day – snacking

Book Travel in Advance

If you are going to visit the grandparents or head out of town on vacation, you can often save a great deal on airfare by booking in advance.

Check for Bargains Online

When booking travel online, you can often save a great deal of money by purchasing airfare, hotel, car rental and even excursions through the website. Compare the price of the excursions to what the regular price would be. You will usually find there is a substantial discount. Just print off your tickets and the vouchers and off you go.

All-Inclusive Vacations

Some resorts offer all-inclusive vacations complete with meals, entertainment and more. Check to see exactly what is offered in the package and how well it will suit your children based on their age
save money for vacation


Cruises are all inclusive. Some go to more exotic locations than others. Determine how well the ports of call and the activities on the ship will suit your children based on their age. Also look carefully at cabin options in terms of indoor versus outdoor and the number of beds, sofa beds, bunks and so on. 
Check the food arrangements. Is it sit-down meals at certain times, or a round-the-clock buffet? Check the child care amenities and babysitting. Do they have a kids club where the children are supervised so parents can get a break? Do they offer babysitting in the cabin so parents can spend some quality time together? How much do they charge per hour? Also check to see if the ship offers an on-board credit.

Make the Most of a Staycation

Make a list of all the things in your area that you would like to do. Get out a map and draw a five to fifty mile radius from your home. Going clockwise, visit each place one by one. Try museums, art galleries and more.

Find Free Days at the Museum

Many museums offer free days where no one has to pay an admission fee. Look up the days and mark them on the calendar.

Consider Becoming a Museum Member

If your family has a favorite museum they love to go to, consider becoming a member and get all of the money-saving perks such as free or reduced admission, guest passes, a discount at the gift shop, and more.

Unexpected Expenses to Prepare For

Summer vacation travel with the kids can be expensive enough without having to worry about unexpected expenses. Here are a few of the main ones to watch out for.

Baggage Check Fees

Most airlines charge for bags these days, so learn to pack light and make sure everyone has a carry on bag or backpack with all they will need.

save money for vacation

Airport Fees

Fees at the airport, like parking, can all add up and need to be budgeted for.

Transportation To and From the Airport

Taxis can cost a small fortune. When choosing a hotel, check its distance from the airport and from the amenities you wish to visit most. You might get a good rate on the hotel, but get zapped with travel costs back and forth.

save money for vacation

A rental car might be more economical, but do a cost comparison. Check to see if the hotel you have chosen has a free courtesy or shuttle bus to local attractions. Also check to see if a hotel near yours has a courtesy bus, which is likely in most big cities. In most cases, the drivers will be happy to let you on provided the shuttle isn’t in high demand.

ATM fees

ATMs will charge you to use them, and your bank will charge you for using them. Plan ahead in terms of how much cash you will need. Use your credit/debit card for as many purchases as you can.

Credit Card Fees at Gas Stations

Gas stations these days have one price for cash and one for credit cards. At a difference of 10 cent per gallon or more, use cash.

Car Rental Insurance

In most cases, your credit card company that you book the reservation with will give you collision coverage automatically. You can also check with your insurance company to see if your coverage extends to rental cars.

Resort Fees and Taxes

These can be a hidden expense you get hit with on checkout. Be sure to check up-front.

Hotel Surcharges

Check your bill for various fees, including that seemingly free newspaper stuck under your door.

Meals Out

Eating out can really add up. Choose a hotel or motel with a kitchenette which includes a microwave and fridge. Get in milk and cereal for breakfast.

Some hotels offer a free breakfast bar. A hearty breakfast should hold you over until lunch. You can also usually make your own sandwiches from what is available if you are not too obvious about it. Bring little plastic bags to carry the food with you.

Pet Boarding/Care

If you have pets, they will need to be looked after while you are away. This might mean boarding at a pet hotel or having someone come in to house sit.  

save money for vacation

Expect to pay from $50 to $100 per day per pet. Ask if there are multi-pet discounts.

Bottled Water

This can add up to a small fortune. Get everyone a stainless steel bottle to refill. If you don’t trust tap water, buy a large bottle of spring water when you get to your destination. You can also get water purification tablets.

If traveling by car, purchase a case of bottled water at your local discount store to take with you.


Snacks like chips can be very costly when purchased one at a time. Head to a local supermarket to buy multi-bag snack packs.

Diapers and Swimmers

These can usually be bought in bulk through a warehouse club. Buying small packs is extremely expensive. Be sure to bring enough for the duration of your vacation so you don’t have to pay a fortune at your hotel or resort.

Cruise Service Fees and Port Fees

These are not usually included in your package and need to be budgeted for.

Suntan Lotion/Beach Gear

Make sure you have sunglasses, sun block, flip flops and so on. It can be really expensive to buy these at your destination.

Mobile Phone Roaming Charges

Check your plan before you go and keep your calls and data usage down if you can.

save money for vacation

Use these tips to save being hit by unexpected expenses when you’re on your summer vacation.

With just a bit of planning, you can save a small fortune before and during the summer vacation.

save money for vacation