Family travel can seem out of reach when you are living on a budget, but it doesn’t have to be. With planning and strategy, we are able to have incredible adventures with our family without busting our budget. Today I’m sharing seven simple tips we’ve learned over the last few years living in financial freedom and finding space in the budget for travel. Before I start, let me say that we put travel on hold while we paid off all of our debt and created an emergency fund. While I believe travel is an important part of our lives, it is a luxury. Though we live debt free, we are on a teacher & part time blogger/non-profit salary, so we aren’t exactly rolling in the dough. If we can do it, so can you.
Seven Simple Tips for Family Travel on a Budget
- Set a budget for your trip. As you are dreaming of a trip, look at your finances and see what you can really afford then set your destination accordingly. Think through the transportation, lodging, food, and entertainment, as well as small details like passport fees and souvenirs. Research the real cost of each line item in your budget rather than guessing so you won’t be caught off guard by the cost. We’ve learned this one the hard way a few times. Read more about how we take big trips on a little budget here.
- Save up for your trip. Divide up the total amount you need to save for your trip and divide it between the months you have to save. Set aside that amount each month so that you will have all the cash you need for the trip in advance. That way you won’t be stressed about the money and will be able to fully enjoy your adventures. We contribute what we can to our travel fund every month year round and use actual cash for our trips. Using cash while traveling helps us to stay on budget.
- Save on transportation. We compare flying versus driving for each trip, depending on the destination. When driving, use apps like Gas Buddy to find the best gas prices. When flying, we wait for fare sales and typically use budget airlines. On our next trip we are using a Costco membership to save majorly on a rental car at our destination (thanks to my sister’s research).
- Save on lodging. When traveling on a budget, vacation rentals are typically a much more frugal option than hotels. Finding a rental with multiple bedrooms and a living room is cheaper than multiple hotel rooms and more enjoyable if your kids go to sleep before you do. Anyone who has camped out in a hotel bathroom while your baby sleeps in the room agrees with me. The other major bonus of a vacation rental is that having a kitchen will save you major money on food. Wyndham Vacation Rentals are a great choice because of their included services (concierge, housekeeping, etc) and their Vacation Bill of Rights to help you have an incredible trip. Visit Wyndham Vacation Rentals here to find the perfect rental for your next trip.
- Save on food. If we drive to a destination, we always grocery shop at home before the trip and meal plan for the vacation. Find our fresh seafood meal plan for our beach trips here. Shopping for food in resort towns can be much more expensive than at home, but is still a much more frugal option than dining out. During our epic road trips we always pack sandwiches and snacks for the road so we don’t blow money on fast food. Drinks are another budget buster. If you love soda, buy cases at the grocery store to enjoy. Making your own cocktails can save a TON. We’ve even been known to bring our own blender if the rental doesn’t have one – DIY smoothies and margaritas for the win.
- Save on entertainment. Before your trip, research free and frugal things to do at your destination. You don’t have to do everything at your destination in order to have a great time. Prioritize your to do list and pick the things you want to do most. When we go to the beach, we typically let the beach be the entertainments. When we go to the mountains, we hike and play in the great outdoors. Overscheduling can work against you when traveling with kids. We leave lots of room for play and exploration.
- Save on souvenirs. It can be so tempting to hit the gift shop and bring home tons of souvenirs. Instead, make the trip the gift and find free souvenirs. We grab free maps to make keepsakes and bring rocks and shells home for the kids’ discovery garden. We take lots of photos and print those out to preserve special memories. If your kids are used to getting all the gift shop goodies they want, change the conversation by allowing them to earn commission money for doing jobs around the house before the trip. Let them know they will be using their own money to buy souvenirs because you gave them this awesome trip as a gift.
How do you save money on family travel? Wyndham Vacation Rentals is celebrating the vacation rental journey all month long with its Road to Happiness Sweepstakes! Join in on 33 days of giveaways and the chance to win the grand prize: your own road trip getaway.
Enter now and learn how to play at Road2HappySweeps.com.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.