We are just weeks away from spring and that means Spring Break for a lot of us.  The weather is still unpredictable so families often look at beach or mountain trips as a chance to either say goodbye to snow or hello to the sun and sand. If you haven’t scheduled your trip now is the time to get it planned, booked, and paid.  In fact, you may even score your best deals by waiting until the last minute (last minute cruise opportunities can be incredible). Still, there are big budget mistakes that are easy to make. Here are our top 5 to watch out if you want to keep your finances on track while having a great vacation.

  • Food  – Food is a large part of everyday expense, but it can inflate quickly with vacation. Find ways to cut down on food and drink to keep costs from escalating. Look for hotels that offer a fridge/microwave in the room or opt for staying in a whole house via sites like VRBO (snag 30% off through March 15th).  See what offers hotels may have for snacks, breakfast or discounts on other meals. At the very least, choose hotels that provide complimentary breakfast. One less meal per day adds up for a whole family!
  • Limit expensive outings Parasailing and ski school are fantastic experiences. However, the cost per person can blow up an otherwise modest vacation. Plan ahead and pick the 2 or 3 excursions that matter most. check sites like Living Social and Groupon and see if you can find offers in the area you are visiting. This works for dining and entertainment.
  • Stay local – Another easy way to trim back on spending is to check the local event calendars. In popular Spring Break spots, there will often be a large lineup of free concerts, art shows or otherwise interesting things to do.  You can also talk to locals for the best walking/hiking/free parks to visit. Not only will you keep the budget in tact, you may get a chance to explore some of that area’s greatest scenery.
  • Skip souvenirs – Most budget savvy parents already know – limit the unnecessary purchases at all times. Yet, even the most frugal of us seem to release the purse strings more readily on vacation. If it seems too daunting to skip the souvenirs altogether, set a budget in advance. Determine what each member has to spend and then give them the freedom to spend it accordingly. Kids can enjoy the sense of independence about making their own decisions while also learning how to weigh choices.  This single trick changed our family vacations forever. No longer were the adults the constant “bad guys” for saying NO to everything. Rather, the kids started to really think through how badly they wanted something.