(ARA) - The slow economy hasn't hindered travel plans for most families. Family travelers take an average of 4.5 trips each year, according to the U.S. Travel Association
. Savvy families are able to travel and build lasting memories by making trips more affordable with the help of simple money-saving solutions.
Here are five money-saving travel tips to help you plan your next family vacation:
Tip 1: Plan ahead of time
Once you decide where your family will go, it's time to research what to do. From visiting theme parks and museums to spending relaxing days at the park or beach, it is smart to do your research. Some places will give deals for advanced purchases or allow you to combine several activities into one discounted price. Your research might also help you discover some fun free activities in the area.
Tip 2: Seek out inclusive activities
Food, rides, shows and souvenirs, a day at the theme park - vacation expenses add up pretty quickly. Consider seeking out options where one price includes everything. All-in-one activities are great for families on a budget. Does the water park include free lunch with your ticket? Does your amusement park pass include a ticket to the music show they present? How about free child care for mom and dad while they're at the restaurant? Activities that include extras can make for a hassle-free day where you never have to take out your wallet.
Tip 3: Book a hotel with all the amenities - and perks
A nice hotel with many amenities can make all the difference after busy days of sightseeing or visiting friends and family. Home2 Suites
by Hilton, for example, have comfortable suites for the family to stretch out and sleep soundly each night. Cook a meal in the suite's kitchen for a relaxing night in and a money-saving alternative to nightly dinner outings. Make a day of hanging out at the outdoor patio where you can grill lunch or simply relax and catch up with the family in the Oasis, the hotel's common hub for social gathering. The saline-based pool, maintained with natural chemicals, is also a fun spot for the family to enjoy. Bringing the family pet? Enjoy time with your furry family member on the outdoor green area for pets at this pet-friendly hotel.
Tip 4: Cut your food costs
By eliminating eating out for one meal a day during your trip, you can save a lot of money. A family of four can spend $40 a day on breakfast at a restaurant - that's $280 for a week's vacation! By choosing a hotel that provides a complimentary breakfast, you can pocket that money for a fun activity, or save it for paying down the credit card bill when you get home. Not all hotel breakfasts are equal - look for options like the ones from Home2 Suites that provide a variety of tasty options to please everyone: hot breakfast sandwiches, cereal, yogurt, oatmeal and a variety of bakery products.
Tip 5: Pack light when flying
With most airline carriers charging for luggage these days, your family can rack up fees quickly if everyone has a full bag to check. For example, at $25 per bag per flight, it costs a family of four $200 extra round trip. If you can cut down on the amount of clothes and supplies you bring, you can save a ton. Check only a couple bags or just use carry-on luggage. Then, look for accommodations that offer on-site guest laundry. If you stay with Home2 Suites
, you can easily do laundry on-site and either relax in the outdoor common space, or grab a quick workout in the adjacent gym.
Family travel is quality time you spend together creating memories that will last a lifetime. With these strategies, your next trip will not only be memorable, but it will be affordable too.