5 Money-Saving Tips to Plan a BC Family Vacation

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Travelling with a family can be an expensive undertaking, but there are ways to mitigate the financial hit. With a little research and planning, you can find great deals to make both kids and parents smile.

Here are five ways to get more for your money in BC.

1. Accommodation

Apart from airfare, the most expensive part of most trips is accommodation. It’s wonderful to have some room to spread out, especially with children, but large suites are expensive. One option is a vacation rental through a company like Airbnb or VRBO, where you connect directly with homeowners. Nightly rates are comparable to hotel bookings, but with more square footage. Many offer discounts if you’re staying for a week or even a month.

Another major money-saver? Access to a kitchen where you can feed the kids breakfast and pack a lunch and/or snacks for the day. Vacation rentals give you this benefit, and a lot of hotels and motels have family suites that include kitchen facilities.

2. Package Deals

A couple sits on the deck of a ferry, taking in the view of the mountains.

Sit back, relax, and take in the views aboard BC Ferries. Photo: Andrew Strain

You can often find cost savings by booking a package that includes some combination of transportation, accommodation, dining, and activities. If you’re thinking of visiting a destination serviced by BC FerriesVancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, or the Sunshine Coast, for example—check the BC Ferries Vacations website to access more than 100 travel packages. Combine your ferry crossing with hotel stays and get free room nights, book attractions tickets at a discount, or get deals on adventure and wildlife tours.

3. Family Rates

A dense forest overlooks the Vancouver skyline.

Vancouver and beyond from atop Grouse Mountain. Photo: @julesbakes via Instagram

Many attractions cater to families with special discounted rates. Some offer free admission to children under a certain age, and heavily discounted admission to slightly older kids. The Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver is free for kids five and under, and 6- to 12-year-olds are about a third the cost of adults. Grouse Mountain, a few minutes further north, offers a family rate for two adults and two kids that can save you more than $25. Similar deals are available at attractions around the province, and some offer an even bigger discount for tickets purchased online. Be sure to check websites before you go.

4. Resorts

Year-round resorts offer a big bang for your buck. There are lots of family-friendly activities, or if you’d rather spend a little grown-up time, many offer child minding and kids’ programs. At Sun Peaks Resort, 45 minutes northeast of Kamloops, pick up a 4 Fun Pack. It includes lift access to hiking trails, a day pass to the Sports Centre, equipment rentals at the driving range, and a ride on the exciting bungee trampoline. Sun Peaks also has horseback trail rides, canoe trips on the lake, and tennis courts. Teens can get a thrill driving the Mountain Cross Cart course, and the little ones can enjoy fun activities at the Sundance Kids Centre while you enjoy one another’s company.

Added bonus: Resort accommodations often include family suites with an all-important kitchen.

5. City Passports

First Nations culture on display in a bright cultural centre.

First Nations culture on display at the stunning Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler. Photo: Blake Jorgenson

Spending some time in one of BC’s cities and want to experience it all? Consider a City Passport, a booklet full of discounts on a wide range of attractions and activities. Available for Vancouver and Whistler, with an updated Victoria guide coming soon, passport booklets offer substantial savings. Enjoy $20 off a flightseeing tour of Vancouver, and take advantage of two-for-one admission to the Museum of Anthropology. Get $29 off a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure in Whistler, then save at local restaurants if you’re too exhausted to cook. At just $25 each, booklets are a great value.

Featured image: Porteau Cove Provincial Park. Photo: iStockphoto.com