Published online at msn.ca's Travel section, June, 2010.
Beth Schofield is getting ready to take her two girls to Paris, where
they’ll stay free for one summer month, just as they’ve done in
Scotland, England, Italy, Spain and Holland.
estimates she’s saving $10,000 (Cdn.) in hotel costs given that the
family is going during high season when Paris is bursting at the seams
with tourists. She’ll also be saving about $4,000 in rental car fees,
as her lodging provides full access to a car in addition to a kitchen
and washing machine.
is a house swapper. She’s a member of www.homeexchange.com where she’s listed her Toronto home as
a vacation rental in exchange for a swap with another home abroad. For
about $120 a year — the annual membership cost — Schofield and her
family have travelled the world living like locals.
as economical as you can get,” she said. “You’re living locally
as opposed to just skimming the culture. You have to figure out how
to use their washing machine and dishwasher. Basically, you’re living
out someone else’s life in that country. It’s a very different
compared to that of a tourist.”
exchanges are just one of the many creative ways families can plan a
summer vacation while sticking to a
strict budget. If you’re not willing to open up your home to strangers,
Shannon Hurst Lane, creator of TravelingMamas.com, suggests taking a
vacation with relatives or close friends and splitting the costs of
a beach-front condo rental. When Lane and her husband were young parents
working entry-level jobs with two young kids, the couple rented a condo
in Florida with relatives, taking turns cooking meals and splitting
the grocery bills.
just have to make sure that you actually like their kids and that the
adults all get along,” said the Louisiana resident. “And don’t
spend too much time together. A week is too
remembers one of her family vacations with fondness. The kids would
be gently roused from their slumber by the smell of biscuits baking
in the oven. After a hearty breakfast, everyone would head out to the
beach and bake under the sun. After lunch, a leisurely afternoon nap,
and some more beach tomfoolery, Smith would cook her trademark crawfish
fettuccini dinner, garlic bread and salad, feeding nine people for about
surefire way to save money on vacation is to find a hotel with a
or one where kids eat free, adds Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, co-founder
underestimate how much it will cost to eat,” she said from Saratoga
Springs, N.Y. “A kitchen can go such a long way to saving money.”
costs with food is easy, adds Jamie Pearson of travelsavvymom.com.
dining experiences are lost on children and their appetites are small.
Skip starters and desserts and opt to dine out for lunch which is
than dinner, Pearson suggests.
“We don’t let our kids order drinks with their meals. Water is the
healthiest drink,” she said from California. “When you’re eating
with your kids, they finish so quickly that it’s just not a good way
to spend money.”
same principle applies to the hotel, says Toronto-based freelance travel
writer Kate Pocock, author of Fodor’s
Around Toronto with Kids. More than the fancy decor, Egyptian cotton
sheets or marble tubs, there’s only two things kids really care about
when it comes to lodgings, she said.
spend a lot of money on the hotel. Because all they care about is the
pool and breakfast pancakes.”
must-do when planning a wallet-friendly vacation is to check out local
tourism websites for deals, Kelleher said. Local blogs could also direct
you to great discounts and inspire trip ideas. And if you’re hitting
a metropolitan city, check to see if they offer entertainment or coupon
books which offer discounts and 2 for 1 offers on local restaurants,
museums and attractions. Most major Canadian cities like Vancouver,
Calgary, Toronto and Halifax, for example, offer entertainment books.
may seem counterintuitive to buy something to save money, but the
can really add up,” she said.
the cheapest summer vacation is one where you don’t have to pay to
see the sights and attractions, Pearson points out.
number one thing is to go somewhere that has a lot of free fun -
the natural world, where there’s lakes, rivers, beaches, forests and
trails. You don’t have to buy tickets to attractions or passes to
the museum and you don’t have to dress up.”
summer is also a great time to try out low-season mountain holidays
and ski resorts like Vail, Colorado.