How to plan a family vacation on a tight budget
Families are finding themselves getting pinched financially more and more. In better times, they could usually count on taking at least one annual vacation together. But disposable income has declined for many in this harsh economy. To maintain a vacation tradition, families must work together and get creative in finding ways to plan for, and make extra money to pay for a family vacation.
Include the kids!
Kids are capable of researching and prioritizing destinations thanks to the internet. Empowering them with this task positions them to learn what things really cost and teaches them to have realistic expectations. When they are involved in the planning, they appreciate the outcome even more!
Here is a list of tasks that kids can do to be actively involved in planning and saving for a fun, family vacation.
Have them brainstorm potential locations and encourage them to consider a range of places – both high-end, dream destinations that might seem out of reach, and more modest places that are closer to home. This will help them gain perspective as to what they can get for their vacation dollars.
Help them list the pros and cons of potential destinations. For example, consider the distance and length of time it takes to reach the destination and the various modes of transportation that would be required.
Have them help to research lodging choices, amenities, entertainment opportunities available and food options to help them analyze their destination choices by cost and appeal to the whole family.
Don’t feel like you have to decide which place to go right away. Sometimes part of the fun is to imagine about the different possibilities for a while. Make this process an opportunity for your kids to learn about the different places being considered.
Look at the history, attractions, weather and geography. Ask your kids to host periodic family meetings after dinner to share their latest research findings. Have them build the case for each destination and after a few sessions, the family’s collective choice will become clear.
Help them decide how long the trip should last.
Have them figure out a list of daily expenses for each destination and multiply it by the number of days you want to be on vacation to project the total cost of each choice.
Once you have narrowed down choices, you may decide that a longer trip at a less expensive destination is most appealing for the group. Or, maybe a shorter trip that is more extravagant is what the family wants to do. Either way, choosing together creates a shared spirit of teamwork where everyone can feel included and have a sense of enthusiastic anticipation.
When you have calculated approximate costs, determined your location and length of stay, then you can define savings goals and a timeline to make sure you stay on track along the way.
Divide the total amount needed to pay for the trip and divide it by the number of weeks or months you have to save. This will help the whole family visualize how much really needs to be saved to take the trip. It also helps to see if the timing of the trip is going to be realistic or if it needs to be pushed back to a later date to be a reality.
Set goals for how much everyone in the family will be expected to save and contribute to the vacation fund. Obviously, expectations of younger children will need to be looser, but they can still get a sense of participation.
Get buy-in and give kids ownership of this part by enlisting them with creating a special vacation fund bank. You could take a wooden box or perhaps an empty oatmeal can and cover it with paper, then have each child draw a picture on the can that represents something they are hoping to do or see on the vacation. This will inspire, engage and motivate them to save their money and contribute to the group’s efforts.
Find ways to make extra money!
Encourage everyone in the family to toss loose change and extra pocket money into the bank. Give kids chores around the house that they can do to make extra money for the fund. Have the kids count the money in the box every couple of weeks and give the family an update on how the fund is growing.
When treats and outings come up, allow them to opt instead to put some of the money that would have been spent into the vacation kitty. Sometimes it can be easier to skip a trip to the ice cream parlor when you know the money you would have spent is going toward a trip to the beach!
Encourage the whole family to find ways to make extra money. Kids can do odd jobs for neighbors. They can babysit.
Work together as a family to sell unwanted belongings. Stage a garage sale, post items on Ebay or Craigslist, or take items to a consignment shop to make extra money.
Examine household expenses and look for extras that can be cut. Eliminating monthly subscriptions can be a great way to find cash that can be earmarked for a family trip instead.
Depending on their work schedule, parents can look for part time opportunities to work from home in addition to their regular occupation. An independent business opportunity offers flexible work hours and can be quite lucrative if you find the right company to work with.
When the vacation bank becomes full, deposit the cash into a savings account and begin filling it again until the family reaches its goal.
Have a great trip!
When a family works together to plan and save, a vacation becomes an experience that brings the family closer together. And isn’t that what a family vacation is supposed to be for?
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Learn more about how the Kaeser & Blair business opportunity can provide you with the chance to make extra money for your family’s next vacation.
This article was contributed by Michelle Spelman on behalf of Kaeser & Blair.