Two things can be said about theme park vacations. The memories you make with your family during the trip will last a lifetime. You can also expect to spend a considerable amount of money on transportation, park tickets, food, and lodging. If you’ve ever dreamed of taking your family to Disney World or another popular theme park but it’s never been in the budget, we’ve got you covered. Here are four strategies that you can use to plan an affordable family theme park vacation.

Plan in advance
Sometimes saving money on your theme park vacation is as simple as planning things a few months in advance. This strategy is especially effective if you are planning to fly to your destination. Typically, plane tickets tend to be less expensive if you purchase them a few months ahead of your trip. Advanced planning also allows you ample time to comparison shop in order to find the best deals on hotel rooms and rental cars.

Consider your transportation options
If you’re interested in significant cost savings for your trip, consider driving to your destination instead of flying. Obviously, this option may not be feasible for some people who are either located too far away or simply cannot get the extra time off to make the trip. But if making the trip by car is a viable option, it can save you hundreds of dollars on airfare and a rental car for your family. Just make sure you pack lots of games, entertainment, water, and snacks for the kids. This will help keep everyone happy on the long drive.

Be on the lookout for special offers
Many parks offer special deals to guests who make the trek at certain times of the year. This is because most theme parks experience a slower season, so they want to entice more people to visit. If your schedule is flexible and you’re willing to let the kids miss a few days of school, consider visiting during a time of year where a park is running a special promotion. Many times you can get discounts on tickets and lodging if you plan a trip during a less busy time of year. Some major theme parks, such as Disney and Universal, also offer deals around specific times of year.

Research package deals
Many travel agents offer special package deals for the most popular parks. Sometimes these packages are easy to find, other times you have to spend some time digging around on the web to locate them. Booking a package deal may help you save money on everything from hotel room and food costs to park tickets. A word of caution about booking travel packages: make sure you do your homework. Sometimes packages are an exceptional deal, other times you may get a better deal by booking things separately. For major theme parks, especially Walt Disney World, we recommend that you consider booking your packages directly with them. Combination hotel, food, and entertainment deals can significantly reduce the cost of your stay.

Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of strategy to put your dream vacation well within reach. If you’ve always wanted to take a trip to a popular theme park with your family but it’s never been in the budget, consider exploring these four strategies. Planning in advance, driving, taking advantage of special offers, and booking package deals can help you save hundreds of dollars on your trip!