As every parent knows, raising kids is not cheap. It starts out with diapers and formula; it turns in to clothes and toys before transitioning to concert tickets and college application fees. With all of the expenses parents face, it may seem impossible to save up for a family vacation. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure that you and your family will soon be soaring through the air or hitting the open road.
Create a Spending Plan
The biggest part of saving for a family vacation is knowing how much it is going to cost you. Create a spreadsheet that lists anything you think you might spend money on. Make categories: airfare (or gas if you are driving!), accommodations, transportation, attractions/admission costs, food and souvenirs. Then start to do some research; visit the websites of the attractions you want to see and find out what their admission costs are. Shop around for deals on hotels or airfare. Decide how much you want to allot for food and souvenirs. Once you’ve created this list, add the numbers up and voila!—now you know how much you need to save. Divide your total costs by the number of weeks until you plan to leave and you will know how much to put away each week until your departure.
You may not want to, but find some luxuries you can give up. One obvious solution is to stop dining out for a while. Use it as an opportunity to spend more time in the kitchen with your kids. Pack them into the car and have them walk the aisles with you at the grocery store. They can pick out their favorite ingredients and act as your assistant while you cook. This not only saves money but it also provides a way for you to bond with your children while instilling in them a love for cooking. Get an app like Cute Food, which will allow kids to design their own healthy meals that you can then replicate in the kitchen. Be sure to plan your shopping trips out so you focus on buying only the essentials. Sometimes it can be hard to give up the impulse buys, especially when you find great deals, but try to think about what you will gain in return.
Tell your kids about the things they will soon get to experience on vacation if they give up a few new toys now. Instead of spending money to go out and see a movie, find museums or educational centers with free admission or explore a local park. You can even slice money off your expense list by running around your neighborhood instead of paying for a monthly gym membership or by doing your nails at home instead of shelling money out at a salon. The things you are sacrificing will be there when you get back from your trip, and who knows? Maybe you’ll have such a blast that you will start saving up for round two when you return!
Get the Kids Involved
Since it is a family vacation, try to get your kids involved from the start. Show them your itinerary so they can get excited about the places you are planning to visit and the things you’re going to do there. Try to get them in on the saving as well.
You can have a garage sale to raise funds, and the kids can participate too. Go through your house to find unused toys that your children don’t play with anymore and clothes that don’t fit them. Put the kids in charge of collecting the money from the sales of their toys and let them keep it to spend on souvenirs. Get a large jar and put it somewhere in the house where the kids can easily toss spare change in whenever they have any. It can add up quickly and give your children the feeling that they are helping fund the trip. For your teens, get them involved in the numbers. Show them how much you need to save per week. You don’t need to ask them to help out, but try to use it as an opportunity to teach them financial responsibility and the importance of saving money.
Your family will be much more excited for the trip if they know what they have to look forward to. Do some research on the history of your location and learn about all of the things and places there are to see. If your kids are looking forward to the family vacation, they may not mind giving up certain luxuries at home.