7 Ways to Save for and Plan an Affordable Family Vacation
June 10, 2017
I'm frequently asked how my family can afford so much travel. Traveling is extremely important to us, so we prioritize it. To make it work we restructured our family budget and became strategic with how we spend while on vacation. Below are some tips on how we make family travel affordable.
Create a travel savings account
If you have a savings account specifically for traveling you won’t spend that money on anything else. When an opportunity to travel presents itself you will easily know upfront if you can make it happen or not.
Restructure your budgets
For many families like my own, if you create a travel savings account it means you will have to shift spending elsewhere because that extra cash won’t appear from thin air. One year I looked at my credit cards’ year in review statement and I was in shock at how much we spent on restaurants, mainly because we were just too lazy to cook. After seeing this, we reduced our eating-out budget and applied those funds to our travel savings account.
To do this we bring our lunch to work 90 percent of the time and cook dinner 6 days a week. We also minimize the amount of drinks we order at bars and restaurants and instead buy bottles at the liquor store that we can enjoy at our home for a fraction of the cost. You know your spending habits better than anyone so decide what costs you are willing to cut to create a travel savings account of your own.
Be flexible with your destination
We never set our hearts on a specific destination. Instead we have a list of places we want to visit and we pick the place with the best deal. If your kids are in school and you’re limited to traveling on their days off, sites like Skyscanner list affordable destinations based on your home airport and personal travel dates.
If you’re flexible like us you can base your travel destination and dates solely on flight deals. This worked out perfectly last year for our trip to Australia. It’s been on our bucket list for a while but was on the back burner since prices are typically $1,500+. That changed immediately when United had a sale for $580 round trip. The deal was available during Australia’s Summer making this deal even more of a steal. Thanks to The Flight Deal last November we were able to score round trip tickets to Amsterdam for August for only $400, when the deal was over the same flight was $1,395.
Ditch hotels for a vacation home
Vacation homes are a must for affordable travel. They are usually much cheaper than hotels, they provide more space for families, and most have a full kitchen! Of course while visiting a new city one thing you always look forward to is trying the local cuisine, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank on eating out three meals a day. Renting a home allows us to go grocery shopping and cook at least one meal a day even if that’s packing sandwiches for lunch. This saves us a lot of cash.
Use Groupons and promo codes
Groupons are available worldwide so always check to see if you can find a deal on a tour or activity you already planned on doing. Also check to see if that city has a multi-attraction pass which grants entry to multiple places for one price. Before purchasing anything online look for promo codes – a quick Google search typically saves us 10 to 20 percent.
Take public transportation at your destination
Immerse yourself in the local life and take public transportation if available. Renting a car or Ubering can be very expensive and traveling with car seats or getting one at your destination can be a pain. Some big cities even have unlimited daily or weekly passes, which makes public transit even more affordable.
Get a travel credit card
Each year we earn enough points on our Chase Sapphire credit card to get round trip flights for the family by charging daily purchases on the card. I prefer credit cards where your points can be used for any airline versus being tied to one since we fly various airlines depending on the current deals. Travel credit cards also have other perks like built-in travel insurance for unexpected delays, cancellations, or lost luggage.
What cost saving travel tips do you have? Drop them in the comments below!
Looking for more motivation to travel? Check out my earlier article on 5 Good Things You Will Experience When Traveling with Children and get inspired to start planning a trip with your kids.