1. Bring your own food and snacks: this is best if you have a kitchen (or at least a microwave). However, there are plenty of healthy no-cook foods that you can bring along and put together with minimal fuss and funds.
2. Plan out the trip beforehand: Group places you want to go, then drive there, park somewhere, and walk around to all the sites you want to go to. Saves money on gas, gives you great exercise, and saves the environment.
3. Stay at a friend’s house: this saves on paying for hotel/motel; allows for quality bonding time with friends, and there’s no weird check-out times. Plus, sometimes you can great some great home-cooked food or a knowledgeable tour guide in the bargain.
4. Pack light: bring only one full-size version of what the whole family uses (ie. toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen) and share. It’s lighter and everyone really doesn’t need their own small shampoo bottle.
5. Ask a friend or neighbor to watch the pets and water the plants: make sure it’s someone you trust. This way it saves you from worrying about home and saves a bundle on pet hotels or having to replace dead plants or goldfish once you get home.
6. Plan out exactly what you are packing before you pack: this makes sure that you don’t forget anything important forcing you to purchase it at some touristy spot or hotel at extremely inflated prices. Also, it makes sure that you don’t forget something in a hotel room forcing you to repurchase the item when you get back.
7. Put aside a certain amount of money to shop with per day: it’s ok if you go over a little one day as long as you spend less another day. It also helps to have a upper limit to the total amount of money to spend as well as keeping track of the gifts you buy so you don’t end up buy 5 gifts for one person and none for another.
8. Research: go to museums that cost little to no money or go to landmarks where there is no admission fee. Research helps to also know the days the museums are free or when there are special events or festivals that you can attend so that the trip is still special without spending too much moolah.
9. Take advantage of your connections: go to AAA to get free maps or guidebooks or even go to the public library for a good selection. Use the car rental discounts and hotel discounts offered by many alumni or professional associations. Buy cheaper tickets to theme parks or zoos through your workplace or school. Even better, if you have a close friend or family member who owns a hotel, feel free to ask nicely for a hookup. The worst that can happen is they say no and you look like a cheapskate.
10. Keep focus: when on a family trip, it’s time to destress and enjoy time with family. This means that you don’t need to cram every single attraction into one time (unless you have 6 months to live…). Sometimes, it’s worth it just to chill by the pool, watch a movie together, or just sit on the couch of whatever room you’re staying in and have some quality family time. When else will everyone be in the same place at the same time? Take advantage of this special time!