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Whether you spend a long weekend at a local destination or take a full-blown trip to Disney World®, traveling as a family creates memories you and your kids will never forget.

But given the everyday costs of raising your kids — from groceries to braces to college — there’s often not much left for luxuries like vacations.

Travelling as a family of three or more can add up faster than you may think. Once you factor in to your budget airfare, hotel rooms, meals and souvenir T-shirts, the reality of vacation costs can take the fun right out of your trip.

A recent survey of new and expectant parents conducted by BMO Harris and research firm Pollara1 showed that vacations were one of the biggest hidden expenses for parents ―31 percent of parents surveyed said vacation costs have increased since having children.

So how can you take a much-needed break without breaking the bank? Here are six tips that might help.

  1. Think small. Sure, a week away in a tropical paradise sounds heavenly, but there are other less costly ways to enjoy an escape from the daily grind, like a weekend in a hotel closer to home. Your kids will be excited about staying in a hotel no matter where they are (especially if the hotel has a pool!), and you’ll get a break from daily chores like meal planning and laundry. Websites like airbnb.com are another way to find fun accommodations that can be affordable, too.

  2. Drive instead of fly. Consider a road trip. There are lots of interesting and fun places you can reach by car, and it can be a great family adventure. It’s an easy way to eliminate costly airfare, as well as the hassle of luggage restrictions and checking strollers and car seats.

  3. Travel off season. If you’re prepared to pull the kids out of school for a week and have the flexibility to book your travel last minute, you can get some great deals to many popular destinations.

  4. Save your loose change. A dime here and a quarter there may seem like a drop in the bucket, but as the months go by, that loose change can go a long way toward a little getaway, or become spending money for your vacation.

  5. Open a new account and call it the “vacation fund.” Deposit whatever money you may get for gifts, and every now and then, put a few dollars into the account. Better yet, set up automatic savings where a pre-set amount of money is automatically deposited into the account each month — not enough for you to miss, but enough that will add up over time.

  6. Ask close friends and relatives to give you cash gifts instead of presents. If someone close to you is stumped by what to get you for a birthday or anniversary gift, kindly suggest a “donation to your vacation fund.” At the end of the day, loved ones will be happy to give you something you really want.

With a little planning and creativity, you can enjoy family vacations and make lasting memories that won’t cost a fortune.

1 The survey referenced herein was conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights (“Pollara”), an independent research firm, at the request of BMO Harris Bank. Pollara is not affiliated with BMO Harris Bank, either by common ownership, management, control or otherwise. Results cited above are from an online survey conducted between November 22, 2013, and November 29, 2013, by Pollara. Interviews were conducted with 1500 individuals, selected at random from an online research panel. A probability sample of this size would be accurate to ± 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. Data has been weighted by state, based on Census information, to ensure regional proportions match those of the actual US population.

BMO Harris Bank makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, in respect thereof, takes no responsibility for any errors and omissions which may be contained herein and accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss (whether direct, consequential or otherwise) arising from any use of or reliance on the information listed herein. Information may be available to BMO Harris Bank and its affiliates that is not reflected herein. This report is for informational purposes only, is not investment advice and is not to be used as a basis for any investment decision. BMO Harris Bank does not provide legal or tax advice to clients. You should review your particular circumstances with your independent legal and tax advisors.

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