How to Do Family Travel on a Budget (Best Tips For 2024)

best way to travel with family on a budget

What if traveling doesn’t have to cost as much as you think? With a little planning and prep work, you will be able to travel with your family for a lot less.

In this article, we explore…

  • how to make a family travel budget and save ahead
  • tips to make family travel fit into your budget
  • Plus, don’t miss the section at the end on international travel if you are going out of the country too!
How much should I budget for a family vacation title pin

How do families afford vacations?

First, let’s look at how to plan your great family vacation.

1. Look at your budget and savings.

Look at what you have to work with and get a feel for what you can realistically expect for vacation money to spend.

2. Research places to go

Use the calculator below to help you determine how much you need to save in order to take the type of vacation you want.

Now, you might be thinking….

What Is A Reasonable Travel Budget?

How much you should budget for a family vacation depends on your family size, income, time frame, priorities, and location.

A trip for a family of five to Disney World is going to cost a whole lot more than a family of three hiking in the mountains. It all depends on what you want out of your trip and what you have to work with.

Bonus Tip: Choose a location where the cost of living is low, and you will automatically spend less!

3. Make a Plan (But Make Sure #1 & #2 Match Up)

In the first step, you looked at your finances. In the second, you researched vacation options. Now, decide on a vacation and set a date. Make a smart financial goal and put it on your fridge to help motivate you.

But be sure that your budget, savings, and time frame realistically match up with the vacation you want to take. For example, if you only have 3 months to save up for that big Disney trip and you are starting from scratch, you might be disappointed.

4. Save accordingly! Try Our Vacation Challenge

vacation savings challenge: free printable tracker

Families can afford vacations by planning ahead!

Family Travel on a Budget: Common Pitfalls To Avoid

woman and money

Families who spend more….

  • don’t sit down and discuss an actual family travel budget. (Do the steps above!) If you don’t know how much you can spend and where you should allocate those funds, you will spend more.
  • travel during peak seasons. Although traveling during school breaks is convenient, you will encounter higher prices due to demand. Schedule flexibility is key!
  • fail to account for add-ons. For example, cheap flights are not cheap if you have to pay additional fees for seat selection, carry-on bags, wifi etc. So, do your research. Also, time is money so don’t choose flights with multiple layovers and waste a day on travel at the airport (where you’ll inevitably spend money).

How to travel cheap with a family (Even a Large One)

family in the car on a road trip

Here are more tips for saving money when you travel with family on a budget.

  • Use travel credit cards and loyalty programs to get cash and points toward hotels and rental cars. 
  • Take advantage of airport and hotel shuttles for free transportation. For cheaper transportation, go with Uber instead of a taxi.
  • Pack all the snacks! Bringing your own snacks and drinks rather than buying at a convenience store will save you big bucks. 
  • Book hotels that offer free breakfast.
  • Buy groceries when you get to your destination. Eating at restaurants every meal can easily add up with a family. So, be prepared to make light meals at your accommodations.
  • Use helpful apps like Gas Buddy. It’s an app that will locate the cheapest gas stations in your area (great for road trips).
  • Pay in advance–many attractions offer discounts if you buy early and online. 
  • Look for activities that are free. When traveling with kids it can be easy to enjoy time hiking, going to the beach, discovering festivals, or doing a free walking tour. Sometimes simple is better with kids.
how to travel cheap with a large family on a budget
  • Use local transportation. It’s often cheaper, and you don’t have to pay for parking or worry about car seats. 
  • Look for hotels or resorts that offer “kids stay or eat free.” 
  • Don’t splurge before you leave. Going shopping for new outfits and gear can add up quickly. Less is more when it comes to packing.
  • The longer you stay the better the nightly rate at most accommodations, including possible free nights at resorts. 
  • If your kids are old enough, have them bring their own money for souvenirs, special snacks, or experiences. Everyone can contribute during a family trip!
  • Stay away from the tourist areas when looking for dining options. They are often more expensive. Local food trucks and vendors can be fun and cheap.

Related: Ways For Kids & Teens To Make Money

International Family Travel on a Budget: Bonus Tips

Ok, but what if you are traveling with your family internationally? Utilize these bonus tips when taking larger trips!

family world travel budget
  • Make sure you are up to date on immunizations and passports so that you don’t have to do anything last minute (or pay more for them!)
  • Bring plenty of snacks and things for kids to do on long flights. As well as wipes and hand sanitizer!
  • Travel light. Those airfare fees add up, especially when you fly internationally. Remind yourself that you can pick up anything you need when you get there.
  • Arrange for transportation before you get to your destination.
  • Pick destinations that aren’t so expensive. There are many places in Europe, Asia, and Africa that can provide an amazing experience without spending a fortune (like you would in a large Western Europe city)
  • Avoid purchases and money exchange at the airport. It will almost always be higher there than in the place you are staying.
  • Consider fees. Visa fees, ATM fees, and phone fees can get you. So plan ahead to make sure that you have the right plans for these. For banks, find a bank that charges the least for foreign withdrawals.
family going on vacation
  • Research major festivals and holidays ahead. Be sure that your country isn’t celebrating at its peak times without you even knowing it.
  • Use discounted and cash-back sites. And put airfare miles on your credit card.
  • Plan your own activities instead of always booking tours. I’ve traveled both ways, and my most memorable experiences are the ones where I roamed, often accidentally stumbling upon a hidden treasure.
  • Stay longer in one place. Instead of trying to hit five cities in five days, thoroughly explore one or two. It will save you money and save your sanity too.
  • Book lodging really early or really late. Often, when you book last minute, great places are just looking to fill a room. Note: this will NOT work well during peak season though.
  • Get creative with food. Cook when you can. Try street food (that’s cooked). Split meals. Bring snacks and your own water bottles. And eat at local places that are more off the beaten path.

To Consider With a Family Travel Budget

I hope this list of family budget travel tips inspired and helped you plan your next big adventure! Where will you be going to next? Leave a comment and let us know!

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