By: Marla Bautista


Family vacations can some of the most memorable times we have with our loved ones.
In this article, I am going to teach you a few tips and tricks that have helped my family of five not only have a great time on vacation, but also save money while doing so.

First, the plan.

Planning a family vacation is just as important as going on one. To optimize your time
and money, you should have a good, solid plan. The first decisions to be made are location and travel dates. You want to pick dates that are flexible for your family and a time frame when you can afford to go on vacation. Around big Federal holidays more people are off work, which can lead to higher travel costs. When considering a location, pick a place that has something for the entire family.

Next, come up with a budget.

Once you have your travel dates and location, you can begin to get an idea of how much things will cost. Is your vacation a place you can reach by car, train, or plane? These transportation options can affect your budget and travel dates. Determine how long you will be there and if this will be a multi destination vacation. Once you’ve figured out these essential elements you will be able to decide on a budget that will best fit your family’s
needs and maximize your experience.

Let the packing commence!
For my family, packing a separate bag for each person was excessive. One year, I
decided to try the “Bag a place” strategy (yes, I made that up!). This system is simple, pack one large bag for each location, for the entire family, and one hygiene bag (separate) for the entire trip. My family recently traveled to Chicago and then Canada, each trip was four days. I put four days worth of clothes for each person into one large suitcase for each trip. I made one small suitcase to be used as a hygiene bag that would suffice for both locations. This works for us, we did not have to take a massive amount of luggage out of the car and we did not have suitcases taking up limited hotel space.

Ready to Roll!

Vacation day has arrived! Here are a few tips that I’ve used to keep my sanity while
traveling. I pack each child their own small backpack with a variety of snacks, a small coloring book and a tablet or favorite game system. I place an empty water bottle in each bag as well, (I have three young children, giving them a drink that they have unlimited access to, will make for quite a difficult trip). When we go on a road trip, I pack a box of snacks. Inside the box, are three gallon sized Ziploc bags (One for each child). I put animal crackers, Goldfish, gummy bears, etc. into snack sized bags, which will then go into the gallon sized bags. This makes it easier to give each child snacks quickly and keeps the car mostly clean.

Relax

While on the trip make sure you have ample down time between activities or destinations, that way everyone stays happy and engaged. Always be flexible, staying at a hotel with a pool helps parents get some much needed relax time while the children still have fun. Usually, at the end of the trip, we have a slow-down day. We use that day to repack, recoup, and prepare to return home. We make this day fun by visiting the pool and ordering in food.

I hope these tips can be useful when you plan your next vacation, bon voyage!

 

Also read: How to Maintain Naps During Family Vacation & Traveling by Stephanie Parker

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Marla Bautista is an Army spouse and mother of three currently living in New York. Bautista has been writing creatively her entire life and recently released  her first book, My Thoughts Abandoned.  She has an associate's degree from The University of Maryland University College and is currently working on her bachelor's in communications. She loves to volunteer in her free time and advocate for those in need.  She is also an avid couponer and hopefully one day, a millionaire because of her frugal lifestyle!