Family Vacation: The $75 Glamping Hack that Saved Me Over $2000

Stretch the Family Vacation Dollars!

If you are like me, you are always looking to save money.  If I can find a free parking spot, I’ll take it over paid parking any day.  Cooking dinner at home instead of eating out, I’m game!  One of the greatest money saving hacks I’ve ever discovered saved me thousands on hotel rooms, and I’m still saving nearly every month.

Enter the family - beautiful wife, 3 kids, and me.  All five of us.  We love camping and exploring the great outdoors.  We also love traveling, and we love a good travel hack to help stretch our dollars, dirhams, drachmas, or whatever currency we happen to be using.  All was well traveling with the five of us when the kids were still very young.  Hotels were more than willing to accommodate babies, and requesting an extra crib in the room was no problem.  As the kids grew, that’s where hotels began to give us trouble.  Arriving exhausted at a hotel after a 15 hour plane ride only to learn that you need to pay double the price you thought you would be paying is a bad way to start any vacation.

Hotels - Oppressors of the Family Vaca 

Most hotels (especially internationally), have a maximum limit of 4 persons per room.  Some hotels require a maximum of only 3 persons per room!  The restrictions are sometimes due to the limited floor space to provide bedding.  Sometimes the restrictions are simply to boost hotel profits.  So what is a family of 5 to do?  Suck it up and pay for 2 rooms?  Not if you care about saving money.

Bring Some Glamping With You

The simple solution is to borrow some of your camping gear to bring along on your hotel stay.  The key piece of gear is your inflatable air mattress.  Once you get to your hotel room, simply inflate the mattress, request extra sheets and pillows and you have all the bedding a family of 5 needs.  Instead of needing two hotel rooms, you can likely all fit into one.

But wait!  There’s more.  Air mattresses can easily give you problems when traveling internationally if you don’t have the right kind of pump for the country you are visiting.  Some pumps require 110V power, others 220V.  Plug types are different all across the world, and if you forget your plug adapter, then you might be looking at blowing up then mattress manually…without a pump.  So, I suggest you ditch the electrical pump.  A battery powered pump is a fairly good option, but when your batteries are dead, then you are back to square one.  The better option is to use an air mattress that utilizes an inflatable bag to pump up the mattress.  That way you don’t need to depend on anything but plain old fashioned elbow grease to inflate the air mattress.

Show Me the Money

Calculating the savings is a fairly simple exercise, with a few assumptions. 

Average per night cost of a hotel room - $150

Number of nights per year on vacation with the sam - 15

Total Cost of 2 hotel rooms per night - $4500

Total Cost of 1 hotel room per night - $2250

Cost of Air Mattress - ~ Approx. $100

Total savings ($4500-$2250-100) - $2150

Saving over $2000 per year on family vacations is nothing to sneeze at.  It could easily be the difference between a 3 night trip and a 10+ night trip.  I know which one I prefer!  So, bring your clamping air mattress on your next family vacation and see what a difference this simple hack can make.


Know of a good glamping/camping hack that you use to economize your family vacation?  Leave a comment below.

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