Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Four Ways to Save During Your Family Vacation


It can happen to anyone. You carefully budget for a family vacation, search for travel deals online, and then embark on your much-anticipated trip… Only to return and realize that you went way over budget, despite scoring great deals on your flights and hotel. What happened? You probably spent so much time focused on your big expenditures (flights, hotels, park passes, etc.), that you forgot about the smaller ones (fees, meals, and snacks), which can really add up.

Here are four tips for keeping those smaller expenditures under control, so that you can enjoy your time with your family:

1. Be strategic about cash and credit card use
Learn about your credit cards before your trip. Some cards charge hefty fees when they are used outside of the United States and some do not. Some also provide added benefits, such as insurance coverage for rental cars, which could save you from having to make additional purchases on the road. It also helps to decide where you will access cash while away from home. Some locations, like Las Vegas, are notorious for having high ATM fees, which can add up quickly. Do your research, so that you’re not surprised when you get your bill!

2. Scout a few good deals in advance
Take five minutes and see which chain restaurants near your destination have “kids eat free” promotional days. It also helps to know where easy lunch options are located near popular tourist destinations, so that you can avoid paying higher prices for in-venue dining.  Depending on your family, a simple Google search could cut your meal bill in half!

3. Take advantage of free WiFi where possible
Texting and calling abroad can easily add up, so turn off cellular data whenever possible when outside of the United States, and take advantage of free WiFi hotspots. If you are staying in the U.S. but your hotel charges for in-room WiFi, this tip also applies – just wait and download your podcasts and check your Instagram when you stop for coffee, and you won’t have to pay an extra fee for access. 

NOTE: Using public WiFi, even hotel WiFi, always comes with some risk, so think before you access any password-protected accounts.

4. BYO – Bring Your Own
While it is not always practical, BYOing on vacation can really save money. In particular, bring your own:
·       Refillable water bottles – most locations have easy-to-access water fountains, including major theme parks and airports
·       Snacks – even to Disney theme parks!
·       Sunscreen – notoriously expensive in hotel gift shops
·       Over-the-counter basics – having a few small packs of ibuprofen, cold/allergy meds, and your preferred method of dealing with a stomach bug can save you from having to pay for overpriced medication in an airport or hotel shop

And of course, make sure to always have your FamilyWize card with you (or download the app for your Apple or Android device), so that you can save money on any surprise prescription drug purchases on-the-go (hopefully you won’t need them!).

How do you save money while on vacation? Share your tips on our Facebook page!

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