How to Save Money on Vacation

12 budget friendly ways to have a fun family vacation.

 Family vacations are a time for making memories. If you’re wondering how to have a fun-filled vacation, while still keeping an eye on your budget, then these ideas for stretching your dollar may help ease the stress.

Pre-plan souvenirs

Challenge your kids to learn about your destination while helping them pre-plan souvenir purchases and save allowances in advance. City, regional tourism, and attraction websites are good places to begin research.

Leverage memberships

Take advantage of any discounts you may receive as a member of an organization. Theme parks, movie theaters and other family friendly activities often slash fees for AAA, AARP, active duty military, student and other memberships.

Eat with the locals

Dining in a tourist or entertainment district can be expensive, so ask the hotel staff where they like to eat. Typically, locals know where to find tasty food at a reasonable price.

Explore cultural sites

Think beyond a theme park. Many cities have museums, gardens and other cultural sites that are affordable or free to visit. Sometimes these places even have reciprocity memberships with your local museums and galleries. You can also time your trip to coincide with “freebie” days.

Play outside

Spending every day on the go can be exhausting. Enjoying some R&R by the hotel pool or at a nearby park is easy to plan and easy on your budget.

Explore on a budget

Look online to find a variety of sample itineraries to explore your destination on the cheap. Online itineraries can help you find what you love best about being in a new city, such as architecture, historic sites and cuisine.

Pack a snack

Packing a snack for a day of fun takes a few minutes of planning when you arrive at your travel destination, but can keep you energized and stretch your budget. Look for a market near your hotel. If your hotel offers a free breakfast, consider taking an apple and yogurt for a snack later in the day.

Look for online coupons

Online coupons, such as Groupon and LivingSocial, often offer discounts at local restaurants and activities.

Be creative for breakfast

An expensive hotel breakfast can eat a hole in your travel budget. Consider grocery shopping for breakfast items you can eat in your hotel room—especially since many hotel rooms provide a fridge for milk and juice.

Shuttle on the cheap

The tab for a cab ride adds up quickly, so ask the hotel if it offers a free shuttle. Public transportation is an option in many cities. Another economical way to see multiple sites in one day is to take a hop on-hop off service where you sightsee at your own pace by hopping off at stops that interest you and catching the shuttle again when you are ready to move on.

Play games

Quality family time can be simple. Packing a deck of cards won’t take much room in your suitcase and many hotels have board games you can borrow.

Collect photos for a scavenger hunt

Want to make sure you have tons of photos to share after your vacation? Hold a photo scavenger hunt. Create a custom list based on your itinerary or find one online to download. To make it more fun, take a selfie with each item you find.