We all dream about that perfect family vacation. We can see ourselves relaxing on the beach with the kids playing in the water. Next we are walking through the amusement park holding hands with our spouse as the children skip ahead. Unfortunately the family vacation is often intermixed with stresses that shatter these images. With some careful planning, you can have that dream trip.
Nothing adds stress to a vacation more than watching your cash dwindle and the credit card debt go up. This is illuminated by creating a budget. Start with a rough draft. You’ll have four main costs; gas, lodging, food, and attraction tickets. Go online to figure out how many miles your trip will be. Divide this by your cars miles per gallon. Now multiply by the price of gas per gallon. This is your fuel costs.
Using the internet, determine the average cost of hotels at your destination. Also check for current ticket prices to all of the attractions on your to-do list. For a food budget, estimate how much your family spends when they eat out. Multiply this by three meals a day. Now don’t be discouraged. This number is high, but it is a rough draft. We’ll reduce it in the next step.
Vacations are expensive, but resorts, theme parks, and restaurants are competing for the tourist dollar. Take advantage of special offers. You’re pretty much stuck with your fuel costs, but the food category is easy to lower. Make sure your hotel offers a complimentary breakfast. Pack food from home for lunches and snacks. It is important to take these items with you. Your local grocery will be much cheaper than ones near vacation hot spots. Lunchmeat, bread, and chips are cheaper than fast food. Splurge on dinner out in a sit-down restaurant each day.
Hotels are also easy to find a good deal on. Never book through the customer service number. They will quote the highest rate available. Deal directly with the front desk at the exact location you’re going to. Online travel sites offer exceptional deals, and as you enter a state, stop at the welcome center. Here they have booklets filled with lodging coupons that save you additional money. If you are very diligent with your credit cards, use one that offers points towards free hotel rooms. If you are disciplined enough to use this card for everyday expenses and pay it completely off at the end of the month, you’ll find the free rooms add up quickly.
How we pack can reduce stress. We all tend to throw everything for the entire trip into one bag. Each family member needs to pack a small tote for the hotels on your way to the final destination. If you’ll only be there one night, you don’t need to drag in the whole week’s wardrobe. Save that for the actual vacation spot.
Pack individual day bags for places you’ll be touring. If you’ll be going to a theme park, have a tote pre-packed with sunscreen, tickets, and park maps. If you’ll be on the beach one day, pack towels, sand toys, snacks, water, and anything else you may need. This saves scrambling for the items that morning, plus you’ll be less likely to forget something.
There may still be days on vacation when the kids have a meltdown or you’re ready to lose your temper, but following these simple tips can help reduce many of the petty stresses involved with travel.
Kevin Caldwell is the owner of www.hotelcirclehotels.com. Kevin enjoys traveling and sharing his experiences with others. Connect with Kevin on Google+ to read more of his work.