- Better Living - Memorable family vacation on a budget
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Planning a memorable family vacation that won't break the bank simply involves taking the time to know your destination inside and out and discussing trip activities with your kids in advance.
"It's all about prioritizing where you spend your vacation dollars and taking advantage of great deals," said Eileen Ogintz, syndicated travel columnist and creator of www.takingthekids.com.
For families looking to have a budget-friendly blast, Ogintz is offering some tiptop ideas:
• Research your destination online with the kids. Become familiar with all of the family activities and attractions available in the areas you'll be visiting. Keep a look out for local coupons and deals.
• Talk to the kids before you go. Make sure they understand you're all going to work together to keep the vacation on budget, so you can afford the experiences they want to do the most.
• Stay someplace with a kitchen or a fridge, or somewhere that offers a free breakfast. You don't want to waste time and money having breakfast in a restaurant every day of your vacation.
• Picnic for lunch and even dinner when you can. Bring sandwiches to the theme park or the beach; opt for takeout around the pool at night. Kids don't like sitting in restaurants anyway!
• Have a souvenir strategy to resist impulse buys. Encourage kids to start a collection, such as patches, pins, stickers or postcards. Save change in a jar before the trip and discuss getting souvenirs that can only be found at your destination.
• Travel greener and cheaper with reusable water bottles so you're not buying bottled water every time someone is thirsty.
• Alternate pricey attractions with those that are free or nearly free. Opt for a minor league baseball game rather than a major league game, for example.
• Reserve a rental car ahead of time at your final destination to help you stick to your own agenda and budget. But be sure you find the best deal available. Some companies make this search easier. For example, the Alamo Deal Retriever, an online tool from Alamo Rent A Car, allows you to compare Alamo coupons and deals specific to your travel plans and select the one that best fits your needs. To locate a deal and join a free loyalty club for deeper discounts, visit www.Alamo.com.
Pizza for dinner at the hotel pool, a bonfire on the beach, a rainy morning spent watching cartoons together - you may discover that the best travel moments are the least extravagant.