Taking a vacation when you’re a family of five can present special problems. Not only is there the extra expense of actually traveling, but most establishments think of a family as “two adults and two children,” which can mean that you end up paying a lot extra for that third child. Through proper planning ahead of time, you can have a cheap family vacation.
Hotel rates are typically based on two adults staying in the room. Some hotels will charge extra for your children and some even have a four-person-per-room limit, which will require you to purchase a separate room for the kids. If you don’t want to do this, look for hotels that cater to large families, which will waive the fee for kids and provide an extra bed in the room for the third child.
Eating out at every meal will add up to a large expense. If possible, choose a hotel room that has a kitchenette, which allows you to cook your own meals. This may cost more on a per-night basis, but it will cost less in the long run. If this is not possible, look for a hotel that offers a refrigerator or microwave, which can allow you to make simple meals like cereal for breakfast, sandwiches or the leftovers from last night’s restaurant dinner.
Choose locations that have plenty of free activities for your family. This can include great parks, beaches or historical events. Theme parks can be prohibitively expensive when you’re part of a large family.
Hotels and airfare are always most expensive during the peak travel times. While peak times vary based on location, they typically fall around school holidays. You can save money by planning your vacation during the off-peak season and taking your children out of school for a week.
Pay attention to the deals that companies offer for free items. For example, some restaurants offer “kids eat free” deals, and some hotels offer a free continental breakfast. You can also get special items for free when you sign up for hotel or airline membership programs.
Consider booking your vacation at an all-inclusive resort. This looks expensive initially, but it includes your hotel stay, all food and many activities, often making it a good deal in the long run.
- family at montezuma’s castle image by Karin Lau from Fotolia.com