When I was 14, my parents got permission to take me (and my siblings) out of school for a week so that we could go to Orlando, Florida on a family vacation in October. Because hardly anyone goes to Disney World in October (or Orlando on vacation for that matter), everything was relatively inexpensive: airfare, lodging (in a condo), entrance passes and car rental. Not to mention that we didn’t have to wait in line for any of the rides. This experience has stayed with me for a looooong time. After all, my parents saved more than a thousand dollars on a family vacation for seven, just by choosing an odd time of year to travel.
Off-peak family vacations
The main trouble with off-peak family vacations, of course, is the fact that they often take place during the school year. It is usually possible to get a week or so off for the kids, but you will have to get the expected homework, and every day there should be time to study. We had to do homework each morning before we could head out for fun. That way, we didn’t fall behind.
In addition to making sure that the kids keep up to date with their schoolwork, it is also important to realize that off-peak means different things to different destinations. You can usually get a cheap Christmas cruise to the Caribbean (although this is becoming less common as the practice becomes more popular), but try to get a cheap ski vacation at Christmas, and you are out of luck. Different hotels, airlines and destinations have differing definitions of “off-peak.” This means that you need to localize your efforts and plan accordingly.
It is also important to dress for the weather. In the mountain west, it was snowing when we left in late October to head to Orlando. So we had to bring coats to the airport. But in Orlando, we wore shorts and T-shirts.
Family vacations are great opportunities to have quality time together and to build shared memories. And you can save money with off-peak family vacations.