A little time spent prior to your vacation will net large returns in stress reduction, memory building and costs. The better you plan the more fun you'll have and the less money you will spend. Here are a few tips to assist you with your planning
1. Check and see if there are apartments, condos, or even home rentals available at your destination. Many of these are much less per person than a hotel, and a lot more private. They also offer many luxury features like pools, BBQs, kitchens and more. These properties are often near attractions and the owners often have a lot of inside information to make your travel more fun. Check out Bed & Breakfasts: off season, you may pay less for extravagant lodging and gourmet breakfasts than you'd pay for a ho-hum hotel. You can also look online for great deals on hotels. Remember to join their loyalty program; it will save you money on your next vacation.
2. Find out the off-season for your destination and travel then. There's a world of difference between season and off-season rates. You will also have less of a fight for many of the attractions you are expecting to see. Often the weather is just as great a month before and a month after the high season and the savings are significant. One warning make sure to check the attractions you intend to see to make sure they are open or have different hours of operation in the off-season
3. Check out all-inclusive vacation packages which can save a great deal of money on tours / attractions, lodging, meals, and other amenities. In some places you can get multi-day passes to various amusements or special rates if you go later in the day. Cruises offer an amazing quality of service at an economic all-inclusive price. Cruise companies offer a wide variety of destinations and levels to meet any budget and interest.
4. Saving money on food is pretty easy and a lot of fun. If you are in a rental that offers a kitchen, cook some of your meals. Pick a restaurant or two that you really want to eat at and then plan the remaining meals at your place. It is a hoot to shop away from home. When we travel to Europe we really look forward to hitting the market to see what they have and see what the locals eat. If at a hotel, pick one with a breakfast included. By shopping at the grokers and preparing some of your own meals you will save money and keep off a few of those extra pounds restaurant food puts on you.
5. To get around once you're at that vacation destination can be very expensive. Do not be afraid of buses and light rail to get around town If it makes sense, you do not always need a car. If there are a few of you, see if a car is cheaper in the long haul than taxies, busses, and trains. As a family of six we find that if we are staying in a specific town / venue for the vacation a car is a liability. However, with so many if we are traveling from one venue to another having a car is not only cheaper, but it offers a lot more flexibility
You can in fact have a great vacation without mortgaging the house.
Planning, some research, and an attitude focused on having a great time will help you to have a vacation that you and your family will remember fondly for years to come.