It’s no secret that traveling with kids can be a difficult and expensive process.
From buying plane tickets to booking hotel rooms, the costs can certainly add up fast.
However, family travel doesn’t have to be an unaffordable luxury. With a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you can experience the perfect family vacation without “breaking the bank.”
Are you planning a family vacation on a budget?
Read on to find 12 tips for saving money when planning family vacations so that you can create experiences and lasting memories!
While everyone’s budget will vary, these tips will make it possible for you to avoid waste and save money while traveling as a family.
Is It Worth It To Travel As A Family?
You might be wondering to yourself if family travel is really even worth all the headache.
Sure, traveling the world was fun when you were single. You could get up and go at a moment’s notice. And you were only responsible for yourself.
But with kids, it’s a whole different ball game.
We’re not going to lie, family travel is tough and it’s never as pretty as the Instagram pictures make it out to be. But the benefits are worth every penny.
Kids learn so much from traveling with their family, like how people live in other countries or what day-to-day life looks like elsewhere. By traveling as a family, you’ll also be able to have quality bonding time with your kids and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Some of my favorite childhood memories involved travel. My parents invested a lot in my siblings and I, making sure that we got to experience the world from a young age. I’m very grateful for the opportunities that I had with my family growing up, and I hope to impart that curiosity for the world to our children to hopefully pass on to future generations.
So yes- family travel is worth it despite the obvious challenges.
Family Travel On A Budget: How We Afford To Travel As A Family
You might be asking yourself: How can we afford to travel with kids when we can barely cover our bills and expenses? How do all the other families afford the luxury of travel?
Travel is a luxury.
But it’s a luxury that we strongly believe that every single family can afford.
While we certainly don’t travel full time (yet), we do still get asked how we’re able to afford some of the trips that we go on.
The answer to this question is two-part.
These are the fundamentals of how we are able to travel the world (in style) as a family without breaking the bank.
Learn more about how we save money for travel.
Have A Travel Budget
If you’re trying to plan a family vacation, you need to start by having a budget.
This is not a time to throw caution to the wind and spend on all the bells and whistles.
Your budget will vary depending on a number of things.
You’ll need to take into consideration your family size and the age of each member of your family, how long you’d like to travel for as well as your household budget and how often you’d like to travel each year.
You might decide to do one huge trip every 5 years, 5 budget-friendly trips per year, or a mix somewhere in between. All of these are valid options. You just need to assess your particular situation to determine which plan works for you.
How To Plan A Family Vacation On A Budget
1. Book Early
Did you know that the average family spends $500 more than they planned because of last-minute deals? Plan ahead and book your travel as soon as possible, so that you ACTUALLY get the best deal.
If possible, you can even start to plan your trip as far as six months in advance so that you can take your time comparing rates and find the cheapest ones.
I always like to use travel apps like Hopper to find the best travel deals. Simply enter your destination and the app scans the internet for all the available flights and summarizes it, allowing you to book the best date and time to travel.
By planning ahead, you also have the opportunity to plan for extras. For example, if you know that your family likes to stay at a certain chain of hotels, you may be able to find family deals or discounts when you give yourself more time to plan.
2. Plan For Family Travel During The Off Season
Planning a family vacation during the off-season, when it’s not as busy, will always be cheaper.
Not only this, your destination won’t be as crowded, which means that you’ll be able to enjoy spending quality time with the family without dodging crowds.
Finally, many family destinations offer special family packages during these times.
3. Dont Skip On Research
There are so many possibilities when it comes to family travel, so it’s important to do your research.
I know that it can seem overwhelming, but you really never know what deals and discounts you can find. Many hotels and companies offer special family travel packages.
Not only this, but you may also be able to find travel destinations in areas that you may have previously overlooked.
For example, if you’re looking for a beach destination that doesn’t involve flying too far away from home, you might be surprised what you find once you take some time to research your options.
Due to travel restrictions during the COVID pandemic, our family has been able to explore lots of places nearby.
I’m almost embarrassed to say that we had been living in Ajax Ontario for 3 years before we realized the beach we had been driving past was only 30 minutes away.
Do your research, and you’ll be able to find family-friendly destinations that don’t involve having to fly too far or spend a lot of money!
4. Stay Flexible
Staying flexible with your travel plans can save you a lot of money. For example, if you are looking for flights to New York but the prices seem too high, try Florida or California instead. You may find a better deal that way.
Similarly, if you want to stay at one hotel but the rates seem too high, try looking around for other options in the same area. When you are open to alternatives, you can save a lot of money without sacrificing your travel experience.
5. Look For Family Travel Packages And Deals
Consider doing family vacation deals that include accommodation, meals, and activities. You can find these special family travel packages at many destinations around the world.
Offering a great value for your family’s trip is an excellent way to save money because you are getting everything bundled into one price (no need to worry about paying separately).
One family package we found offered two nights at a hotel, three meals per day for four people, and access to all of the family activities.
The best part is that it was cheaper than booking everything separately!
6. Pack Light
Going on vacation can be very exciting – but packing for your family trip isn’t always an easy task.
Packing light can help you to save money on your family vacation.
Easier said than done when traveling with kids. But when you pack light, it’s easier on your wallet and also on your patience.
If you’re going somewhere with a lot of walking (like many family destinations), you may have to get creative in choosing what to take with you.
In addition, when you’re packing light, it’s easier to go places without spending too much money on luggage fees. Many airlines are now offering different baggage options for families that want more than one checked bag but don’t need all six allowed pieces to move around the airport and find a good deal on luggage.
Carry-on bags are also much cheaper than checked baggage so make sure that all of your essential items fit in one bag.
7. Pack Your Own Snacks And Entertainment
One of the areas where we spend a lot of money during trips is on food.
Having snacks on-hand or packing a way to prepare your own food can help you save on costs.
You can pack your child their favorite toys and books to keep them occupied during the journey or provide entertainment for long car rides.
For example, we always have little bags of snacks with us and a car full of family games to keep the family entertained.
Bringing your own food is not only cheap but it’s also healthy for the kids.
Opt to find accommodation that allows you to prepare your own meals. Even simply bringing water bottles will save you the cost of buying bottled water when you are out and about.
8. Skip Meals & Eat One Or Two Big Meals Instead
Speaking of food, you can save a lot of money on your vacation by skipping meals altogether.
Hear me out.
We’re so used to eating three meals a day that we think we need to do the same while we’re on vacation.
The truth is that between all the activities that we have going on while on vacation, we’re often not even hungry but eating because we’re used to eating at a certain time.
Since we know that food is one of the major expenses on vacation, you can save by just skipping one meal.
Portion sizes at restaurants are quite large. If you have leftovers, you can take that with you and have it for a snack or for the next meal.
This may not be possible if you have really small kids, and certainly not something that you have to do every day on vacation.
Just an idea to have in mind to help you save money.
9. Stay At A Hotel With Free Breakfast
No matter how much you love your family, there is almost nothing worse than being dragged out of bed to go out and find breakfast.
You can save money by staying in a family-friendly hotel with free breakfasts, or even better, one that offers room service!
10. Stay At A Hotel With Onsite Entertainment
One of the best tricks that I’ve found to save money when traveling is to stay at a hotel that has entertainment such as an onsite water park, arcade, or other family activities.
This can often cut down on costs for family activities and even on transportation. This is also great if you want to get up early for an activity on the day of check-out without having to pay for parking.
11. Use Local Transportation
Another way to save money on family travel is by using local transportation.
Public transit systems are a great option for families that want the freedom of exploring without being tied down to expensive taxi fares or high gas prices.
Many cities offer family passes, and it’s often cheaper than renting a car as well!
12. Use Family-Friendly Accommodations
When traveling with family, it can be difficult to find family-friendly accommodations.
Many hotels have family rooms that are cheaper and more spacious than a regular room for just two people. Similarly, resorts will often offer family rates or discounted rates if you bring your kids along.
This is especially important when traveling in the summer heat. Accommodations with family-friendly pools are also a great way to save on money by not having to pay for expensive daycare or activities while you’re out and about exploring the area.
13. Don’t Spend A Lot Of Money On Tickets & Souvenirs
It’s easy to spend a lot of money on family-fun tickets and souvenirs.
However, there are many ways that you can get around this problem without breaking the bank.
One way is by purchasing family fun passes in advance or using them online so that your family doesn’t have to wait in line for hours at amusement parks Another trick is to buy family fun passes from a reseller.
This can save you up to 50% on family-fun tickets.
If your family doesn’t need souvenirs then don’t purchase any! A great way of saving money at the end of the trip.
Instead, take home memories that will last a lifetime.
14. Rent Baby Gear Instead Of Buying
For family travelers with little ones, this can be a great way of saving money.
Many rental companies will provide baby gear such as strollers and high chairs for the family to use at no additional cost.
This is also an option if you want your kids to have more independence but don’t feel like lugging around bulky gear in your carry-on bag.
15. Plan For Multiple Destinations At Once
Planning a trip to two or more countries can save you money on transportation fees.
For instance, for our one-year anniversary, we planned a trip to Paris. We also used this opportunity to explore the South of France- a short 1-hour flight away. This gave us a few days in another beautiful location and we only spent a few hundred dollars to make this happen.
Now imagine if we chose to do just Paris and then come back to visit the South of France another time, we would pay close to double what we did for that trip.
We didn’t stop there. After The South of France, we headed down to Marrakech to enjoy the last leg of our trip.
On our way home (back to Canada), we saw a flight with a long layover in Lisbon.
We saw that as an opportunity to run out of the airport for a couple of hours
If you have the time to extend your trip, it’s really worth it to try to combine multiple destinations.
16. Collect And Use Reward Points For Travel
Smart travelers know that reward points are the way to go when trying to save on travel.
Use your credit card reward points or frequent flyer miles to buy plane tickets. You can also use them for hotels, rental cars, and even tours.
17. Start Saving Now
The bottom line is that the best way to save money when family vacation-ing is to start saving early.
The earlier you start saving for this dedicated purpose, the more motivated you’ll be.
Try and set aside some of your budget from at least six months in advance so that you are able to take advantage of deals when they come up.
So there you have it- a few of our favorite tips for planning family travel on a budget.
Saving money when traveling with your kids can be tough. But there are ways to cut down on costs without sacrificing the quality of your trip, and it doesn’t take a lot of extra effort.
Hope these tips help you to feel inspired as you plan your next family holiday.
Leave a comment and let us know if you have any additional tips! We would love. to hear from you!