Giving family travel for the holidays is more than just air plane tickets to Grandma’s house. What about turning this season of giving into a season of planning. Planning for the next time the extended family will take an adventure together.
Frequent Flyer Miles
Frequent flyer miles are more flexible than ever . Often family members can “gift” these miles to each other . Be sure to check the airlines regulations. Always, always sign up for frequent flier miles even if it is a carrier you do not use often. Miles can hang around for years so you never know when a particular carrier might match miles another family member may have acquired.
Credit Card Rewards Plans
Some credit card plans have rewards policies that let you use points toward any airline, Really! My husband joined us for a weekend in Alabama on short notice, flying into a regional airport. Yikes! This was a very high priced ticket. No problem! My parents were able to purchase it based on points acquired by credit card rewards at no cost to them. We pampered my husband for two days and then sent him back to work in Colorado. Again, be sure to read the credit card policies.
Family Travel Club
Create a capital campaign to plan for the cost of travel. Holidays are a good time to start planning when, where and how much. Let the kids draw a graph showing how much needs to be raised to take the trip.
Start with holiday money and look at how much needs to be raised each month to meet the goals. How much will each person contribute? How much do you need by a certain date for airline tickets or hotel reservations?
Make a jar where everyone can see the money. Even for young ones, it is never too early to teach resource management skills.
Fund Raising Campaign
Holidays, birthdays and special occasions where monetary gifts are given can be a great time to ask for funds toward the family travel club. Have kids draw, paint and study about the vacation the family is taking. Let them present the idea to grandparents and relatives.
Side jobs, whether it is extra chores that children get paid to do and the money goes into the vacation fund. Or, it is a family job for someone else–a lawn mowing, cleaning a basement, snow removal or even creating an awesome video for someone’s party or event. Look for extra ways the family can work together to raise money for the trip.
Choosing Delayed Gratification
Choosing to make a nice dinner at home on Friday night instead of going out a can be another way to “gift” yourself family travel–again, an opportunity for family team work. Decide how much you would be saving and place that in the family travel jar. How can the at home dinner still be a fun event with a “going out to dinner” feel? Maybe prepared frozen meals? (Grabbing a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store even with all the sides is $12, as opposed to $45 for a family of 4 at restaurant.)
Maybe paper plates so no dishes? Maybe a living room picnic with cool music like you were at a concert in the park?
Research Research Research
There are huge cost savings in researching the places and modes of travel you would like to use for your family travel.
Location– Florida would be nice but maybe the coast of Alabama is just as nice at 1/3 the cost.
Time-Traveling during a location’s shoulder season can offer lower rates. Traveling early or late in the day or week can help with airline ticket prices. Are you flexible with dates? Many airlines offer a sneak peak at rates for the days around the dates you have picked that might be cheaper.
Activities– Rank the most important from the least. Are there coupons or other deals. We spent the night in the Georgia Aquarium so much cheaper than getting a hotel room and meals plus the aquarium tickets. Plus it was an amazing experience!
Lodging-Can you stay with friends? Can you pitch a tent part of the time? Hostels are not just for traveling teens anymore they offer family rooms too. Look into national parks, college dorms, and YMCA’s that offer basic accommodations at much lower prices. Plus, organizations like Airbnb and VRBO offer houses at rates that are often 40-60% less than hotels.
Transportation– Always look for public transportation in larger cities. Research whether buying a bus/subway pass for your stay is cheaper than a single ticket. The pass may also come with discounts to attractions.
Teamwork. planning, saving and research skills are all life skills your children can develop in the process of planning family travel. This holiday start the conversation, “if you could go anywhere?”
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