- Shannon Wilburn Clark.com
Summer travel season is in full swing and if a family trip to The Aloha State is on your wish list, I’m here to tell you how you can travel in style without breaking the bank.
A family vacation to Hawaii may be more affordable than you think!
This past December, we took our entire family — six people including our children’s significant others — on a 12-day trip to Hawaii for less than $3000.00 total. That is less than $600 per person. Considering Hawaii is often one of the more expensive places to visit, my goal as a super-saver was to find a way to make this happen on a budget.
1. Book travel using points
Start accumulating points NOW. We used our travel rewards cards for nearly every bill and household purchase we possibly could and then paid the balance each month. This is KEY. You don’t want to go into debt acquiring points or you will defeat the purpose. Make sure you use the money you would have used to pay the bills and pay the credit cards off monthly. Nerd Wallet is a good resource for travel reward cards and showing which credit cards offer the best travel rewards. On some airlines, they allow you to book using your points one year in advance. The earlier you book, the more options you have.
2. Look for special promotions with branded cards
I received an application for an American Airlines card which offered 100,000 in miles for opening the account and making a specific amount of purchases. We opened an account and used this card for bills. This allowed us to buy four of the six airline tickets using points – a BIG savings.
The same is true for many hotel brands, like Hilton and Marriott. They have rewards credit cards that provide you double – sometimes triple – points on certain purchases. I was able to get triple points recently using my Marriott Rewards card. The Points Guy tracks hotel credit card deals and is a great resource when knowing which credit cards to choose. Bonus: We were able to use our points for two rental cars, which saved us around $1,500 and allowed us to visit different beaches on the island.
Again – do NOT go into debt acquiring points. Make sure you can pay off your balance each month.
3. Pack your own snacks and water bottles
Airport snacks and drinks can add up quickly. It was my goal to limit the amount of food that we purchased inside the airport. I asked our family ahead of time what snacks they wanted and visited the grocery store before our long travel day so I could pack items in my carry on. Yes, it is true, you can’t take water through security — but you can take an empty water bottle and fill it up at the free water fountains once through security. You can save $10, $20, even $30 per person just by doing this.
4. Rent a private home
AirBNB and VRBO have changed the way many people travel. The downside is you can’t use points to pay for lodging, but the upside is that you can save a significant amount of money. For our Hawaii trip, we rented through VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner). We went with another family and split the cost of the rental. In addition, being in a home allowed us to buy groceries, so we were able to eat most meals at home. For budgeting purposes, we decided in advance to have two lunches and two dinners at local restaurants. On other days, we packed sandwiches and snacks for the beach.
5. Set spending limits for kids
Before we even got on the airplane, we discussed budgets with the kids and gave each one a set amount of money for their personal spending. This eliminated the constant requests for money and empowered them to make choices around how to spend their cash, whether it was for parasailing, food, or buying a t-shirt.
THE FINAL BREAKDOWN
Airline tickets – Points
Rental Car – Points
Food – $700, including restaurants
Home Rental – $2250 for 12 days
Grand Total – $2950 for six people – less than $600 per person, or $50 per person/day
With a little planning and discipline, you CAN take a dream vacation on a budget!
More ways to save on travel
- Clark’s secret to finding the cheapest flights possible
- This free email subscription will save you hundreds on flights
- Hotel Booking Guide: Scoring Hotel Deals
Clark shares his travel predictions for the rest of 2017
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