budget for family travel

30 ways to budget for family travel

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(Last updated on: 05/04/2020)

Finding a way to budget for family travel can be overwhelming, or even a dealbreaker, for some people. Some families, however, are amazing at it! I love following some of my favourite family travel influencers on social media. Their travel tips and photos give me so much inspiration for my own family travel plans!

After the recent popularity of my post How we can afford family travel so often (and how you could too), I decided to find out what some of my favourite travelling families do to budget for family travel too.

So today I bring to you 30 ways to budget for family travel, as recommended by the experts themselves.

30 ways to budget for family travel

Below are 30 ways to budget for family travel, as suggested by some seasoned family travel bloggers! I have grouped these tips into seven categories:

  • Think carefully about accommodation options
  • Consider transport options
  • Think about when you choose to travel
  • Ways to make your money go further
  • Stay in more and go out less
  • Plan what you do while away carefully
  • Remind yourself to budget for family travel

The following tips were sent to me by the named travel bloggers. To read more from them, click on the link provided beneath their contribution.

30 ways to budget for family travel

Think carefully about accommodation options

Accommodation can take up a big chunk of your family travel budget- trust me, I know! Therefore, any way that you can save in this domain has to be a good idea, right? Here are some suggestions for how to make your pennies stretch further by thinking carefully about accommodation options.

#1 Go camping

My family’s love for camping really took off after our son was born. With a smaller budget for family travel, camping became an affordable way to holiday and introduce our son to adventure. 

Camping can suit any budget. Basic but comfortable camping grounds, with bathroom facilities only costs us around $35 a day at most. Even the most expensive camping resorts with water parks, pools, jumping pillows, playgrounds and restaurants will only cost up to $50 per day in the US! 

We stay at places close to national parks, bushwalks, waterfalls and swimming holes, beaches, cafes and restaurants. Our favourite locations include farmstays as our son loves to pat and feed the animals. Our son loves the freedom to run around outdoors, and unlike a hotel or Air b’n’b, we don’t need to fear anything getting broken. 

If we take our own food, short breaks cost little more than an average weekend at home! In fact, because camping keeps us away from the shopping centres, they can even save us money.

Camping does require some initial outlay, as you will need to purchase your equipment before you go. Don’t go overboard – all you really need is a tent, blow up mattress (or a travel cot for babies), and a couple of camp chairs. Most camping grounds provide barbecues for cooking. It’s also easy to find second hand bargains online, or to borrow from friends.

Camping has allowed us to spend lots of fun quality time together as a family without breaking the budget. It has instilled in our son a sense of adventure and confidence that is priceless. 

You can read more from Stephanie here.

#2 Stay in basic accommodation

As tempting as it might be to stay in the most luxurious resorts with big swimming pools or charming boutique hotels, there is just no room in our family travel budget to make that happen. That is why the main way to keep our budget in order, is to look for basic accommodation.

When we go on a trip, we usually have a day budget of about €65 for 2 adults and a 3-year old. As accommodation is the biggest cost, we try to find a room for about €30 (although as our daughter is getting older, we might need to start looking for triple rooms rather than doubles where we could put a baby travel bed. This will obviously make it more expensive). That is for Latin-America and Asia. For Europe it would be (just) a little higher. For that price we expect it to be rather basic but clean, with our own bathroom and preferably with breakfast included.

That doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally splurge. Usually once during a trip, we book a couple of nights in a boutique hotel or charming resort. Often we align our excessive spending with a birthday, to make it more acceptable towards our budget. 

Read more from Babs here.

You might also be interested in my post5 Top Tips for Flying when Pregnant

#3 Try a home exchange

Accommodation costs can take up a major part of your travel budget. It was while researching places to stay in Copenhagen that I finally decided to give home exchange a go. Accommodation in the Danish city was expensive and house swapping allowed us to save hundreds. Since then we have done more than a dozen house swaps all over the world. Spain, Germany, New Zealand and the USA. We just got back from a fantastic beachfront house swap in Hawaii! 

House swapping does take some more planning and organisation than other accommodation options. First, you need to set up your profile, taking good photos and describing your house well is important. You’ll need to finish all those little DIY jobs that you’ve been putting off and make sure your house is clean and in order. Sometimes you also need to be flexible, either about dates you will travel or the ultimate destination, this won’t suit some people.

House swapping is not all hard work though, there are immense rewards beyond the money savings. You will get insider knowledge from a local, have opportunities to meet people and mingle with the community, you’ll have a full kitchen to cook in, exchanging with another family means books, toys, bikes and games to keep the kids entertained and the whole family happy. 

Read more from Kaylie here.

#4 Use Air b’n’b

As a family of 5 one of our best tips for budget family travel is to use Air b’n’b over a traditional hotel room. With an Air b’n’b we get to live like a local, have more space and not have to pay for two hotel rooms. We have used Air b’n’b all over the world including when we stayed in a traditional Mongolian Ger on the plains of Mongolia.

Air b’n’b not only saves you money it allows you to experience difference and make connections with people you may not staying in a hotel room. I also love the fact that Air b’n’bs have access to a washing machine because even on holidays I still need to do laundry!

Read more from the Smiths here.

#5 Stay with friends or family

Crashing with friends and family who get excited about seeing you and hosting you is a fabulous way to travel on a budget. Following our two week summer road trip through California, our kids still say that staying with our friends for four nights in Morgan Hill (just an hour from the heart of San Francisco) was the top highlight of that family vacation. Our empty-nester friends have an awesome outdoor pool and backyard, complete with trampoline, pergola, loungers, and chickens! They were so happy to share their little slice of paradise. Plus, they knew all the best places to eat and insider tips for visiting San Francisco and nearby Monterey on the coast. We had a blast!

Do you have distant family you’d love to connect with? This also makes travel fun! Over a decade ago, we had the awesome privilege of living in Germany for six years serving military kids through Young Life. During that time, we soaked up time with distant cousins there and in the Czech Republic. Our extended family happily hosted us and showed us the very best of their villages or cities. My favorite memory is trying to keep up with my stiletto-blazing cousin Milena as we explored Prague – she took us down Golden Lane and all over the city. 

Some of our best memories are staying with friends and family who know all the hidden gems and help you enjoy travel through the back door. Just be willing to return the favor! We live in Colorado Springs, and folks always want to come visit. 

Read more from Tanya here.

#6 Find free and cheap places to stay

We love exploring Western Australia with our young family. However, we could never afford to travel as much as we do if we didn’t enjoy a few nights of free camping along the way. Luckily, WA is dotted with many free or cheap campsites in incredible locations, often much more scenic than the more expensive holiday camps. The Camps Australia Wide book lists them all and is a worthwhile purchase from most fuel stations and visitor centres. 

Last year we spent a weekend at the Tenindewa Poieer Well campsite just outside the small town of Mullewa right in the heart of Wildflower Season. The road verges were bursting with tiny colourful native flowers, and each campsite surrounded by carpets of flora.  All this beauty comes at no cost except the fuel to get out there. 

A true Aussie outback experience on a working station is another great option. Wooleen Station offers incredible secluded campsites along the banks of the mighty Murchison River at just AU$15 a night.

And for the ultimate castaway paradise, how about camping in the Cape Range National Park in Exmouth, WA. You can spend your days swimming among the turtles and stingrays in the World Heritage Listed Ningaloo Reef, all for just AU$11 per person per night.

Read more from Suzanne here.

Consider transport options

Transport can also cost a lot, particularly if you are travelling long haul or during peak season. Below are some great suggestions from my fellow family travel bloggers on how to save money on the transport element of your trip.

#7 Travel with budget airlines

I’ve had so many people say to me ‘I will never fly with a budget airline’, my response is always ‘why, we both arrive in the same place, only me with more money to spend on attractions and hotels’.

Travelling as a family of 5 has meant that we have learnt to prioritise what is important to us when we travel. We see flying budget airlines as short term pain for long term gain.

For me I don’t see the point in paying more for flights, we end up in the same place and the kids take their iPads anyway and we tend to take our own snacks on flights. Airline meals are never that great that you are missing out on anything spectacular. We will purchase a drink for each of the kids and they are happy with that as we generally eat before boarding in the transit lounge. 

The extra money saved flying budget means we can spoil ourselves on a nicer hotel or we can do an activity we might have had to miss. I also think this is money better spent and we get more enjoyment out of these experiences. I would much prefer a 5 star hotel plush pillow than an extra inch recline in my seat on the flight. 

Read more from Sally and Craig here.

#8 Hire a car

When there’s a few of you, it might be cheaper to hirer a car than to travel by other means of transport. This is particularly useful if you are planning to travel internally around the destination that you are visiting.

We love hiring a car for our family travel. Not only does it usually work out cheaper (because we tend to move around a lot), but it also gives us added flexibility. We can have toilet stops when we like. We can take a lunch break when we choose to. We can drive the scenic route!

Hiring a car can require a bit more organisation i.e. taking car seats, organising paperwork, but I personally think it’s worth it!

For more tips on hiring a car visit this post.

#9 Research the cheapest way to travel

Speaking of budget travelling and how expensive it can get to travel with kids in Europe, we have decided to list a few extremely helpful tips and tricks to save money- 

Take the bus– we took a bus trip to Czech Krumlov: is was very cheap, and with the baby it was even cheaper than booking for two adults without a baby. 

Note: if you travel with an infant or a child that requires a special seat, you have to make sure to take it with you on a bus. Bus services do not provide extra seats for babies. 

Take the train– Train rides can be super cheap in Europe, especially if you consider two things: Railway Pass; Making a reservation in advance.

Trains are super comfy too. They have special kids areas too, including a table with a game painted on it. The only thing you should do is to ask a staff member for a dice, and you are good to go.

fly with a low-cost airline– It is just so simple and cheap to travel with low-cost if you: Don’t have luggage; Are flexible with destinations and time; Book slightly in advance.

Take a tour– Every city in Europe offers free-tour options, and some of them have tours in several languages. It is an amazing opportunity to know the city and meet new people absolutely free of charge. 

Read more from Ana here.

#10 Consider slow travel

There are many different types of tourism and slow travel is one type that has been receiving increasing attention in recent years.

If time isn’t a concern, you can save lots of money by exploring different transport options for your trip. This might include taking an indirect route or a cheaper alternative. I took a slow boat to the Gilli Islands from Bali for a fraction of the cost of the speed boat, for example. I also scheduled a stop in Miami on my way home from Mexico because it was cheaper than flying direct.

Whilst prolonging the transport part of your trip might not always be ideal when travelling with children, it can also really enhance the trip! I saw dolphins on the slow boat that I took and had several hours to relax and read my book, whilst topping up my tan. We had a great time exploring Miami, which was somewhere that we otherwise might not have visited.

My advice is to have an open mind. Taking the slower route might yield lots of experiences or adventures that become memorable parts of your family travel adventure!

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Think about when you choose to travel

Timing can make or break your family travel budget! While some of us have the flexibility to travel when ever we find the best deal, many of us are restricted to the school holidays- which can make travel VERY expensive! Nonetheless, there are some things that you can do to help reduce some of those travel costs.

#11 Keep an eye out for the best deals

Like I said before, flexibility is key if you want to ensure that you can afford family travel. Skyscanner has some great deals and I have been using it to book my flights for years!

I like to use the Skyscanner app to check flight prices on the go. The website also has a handy function that enables you to be flexible on date and/or location. This lets it bring up the best deals for a specified time period.

Skyscanner also has a function to save a specific flight and then it notifies you if there is a price change. This is particularly handy if you are waiting to book but are nervous about the prices going up!

flying with a baby

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#12 Book early if travelling in peak periods

Once you are tied to school terms, it’s important to plan ahead for a family holiday to maximise time away from school, rather than just time out from work. Booking far in advance might sound unadventurous and unspontaneous but it can mean taking advantage of early booking discounts, bagging the best accommodation before all the other families try to book it and also buying flights before the prices rise. Booking far in advance also means you know what you’re saving for and have longer to save for it.

Keep a look out for half terms and inset days which do not fall in line with other schools around the country. Certain property providers double their prices during the school holidays but if you’re fortunate enough to have half term a week earlier or later than the majority of families, you can make huge savings, particularly in the UK.

Read more from Annabel here.

#13 Travel to affordable destinations

One way that we are able to afford family travel is because we are flexible with our destination choices. If a place we want to go to is too expensive, we simply leave it on our to-do list and consider somewhere else- the world is a big place, after all!

Destinations tend to come in and out of ‘fashion’, so if you choose a place that was so ‘last year’, you might be in luck and find some good deals.

Likewise, if a destination has been hit by a natural disaster or has had some political instability it often becomes less desirable to tourists. In these cases you might be able to find yourself a good bargain. Be sure to check that it is still safe to visit first though!

We have travelled the many destinations which have been more affordable for reasons such as this. We travelled to Israel when there had been issues with Gaza. We travelled to Egypt after the political riots in Cairo. We travelled to Thailand during the rainy season.

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Ways to make your money go further

Some family travellers have this one mastered! I know that there are some things that I could do to make my money go further so I will definitely take some of the advice below onboard!

Here are the top ways that to budget for family travel by making your money go further.

#14 Join hotel loyalty programmes

Hotel loyalty programs, where regular customers of a hotel brand are rewarded for their loyalty, are one of our favourite ways to help reduce spending on our family travels. We try and focus our hotel stays on brands such as Hilton and Marriott in order to achieve status in the loyalty programs they offer.

The perks are excellent: we get free breakfast during our stays, free wi-fi and, sometimes, an upgrade to a suite. One of the best benefits is access to the hotel Concierge Lounges. In Asia and the Middle East, where we spend most of our travel time, the lounges are amazing with treats like afternoon tea, evening cocktails and canapes and an endless supply of snacks and soda. Our food and drinks spend is substantially reduced with these perks.

We also collect loyalty points during each stay. When we’ve saved up enough, we cash these in for complimentary stays in hotels across the world. We’ve used our loyalty points to vacation in expensive destinations such as Rio de Janeiro, NYC, Sydney, Seoul and Tokyo, saving thousands and thousands of dollars!

Read more from Elaine and David here.

You might also be interested in my post- 5 must-have baby travel items (and they’re not what you would expect)

#15 Collect air miles

One of the main reasons I thought I might ‘lose’ my travel lifestyle once I had kids was because of the sheer cost of travelling as a family. I am always looking for ways to keep within budget ,but that can often limit us to destinations at home, or in Europe.

Having an air miles credit card has been the number one thing that has allowed us to get further afield. Whilst every country and airline have different offers, I personally use the British Airways American Express. All I have to do is spend 10k a year on it, so I literally buy everything from my weekly shopping, to my car fuel, and visas, to other plane rides. After my 10k spend, I immediately get a companion voucher which significantly reduces the cost of a long haul flight.

Places like Bermuda and Costa Rica would ordinarily be off the cards for us, but having my air miles credit car made those destinations possible. All you have to pay is the taxes for two people.

Read more from Karen here.

#16 Have a try at matched betting

One of the best way to help budget for family travel is to earn an extra side income by matched betting. This can be done before you go away and on the road.

Before you stop reading, please note that this is not gambling; this is a risk-free way to win earn a decent amount of money each month.

Matched betting is an easy way to make money by taking advantage of free bet promotions that are run by sporting bookmakers. The process is based on maths, not sporting knowledge, so anyone can do it (don’t worry, you use a special calculator on a matched betting site)

Bookmakers have offers like ‘Bet 5 get 30 in free bets’. B matching these bets with the opposite outcome on a betting exchange you can earn around 80% of the value of the free bets, so in this example, we would make around £24 tax-free profit.

This should only take 10 minutes so it is a good return for the time spent. Matched betting is not available in all countries (very popular in UK and Australia, not allowed in the USA) and you will need to use a VPN whilst travelling.

Read more from Chris and Linz here.

#17 Keep a savings account

We don’t travel full time however we do try and fit in as much travel through the year as we can. This usually means one big trip and a few smaller local trips. To fund our travel plans we set up our family budget to include an automatic savings plan that debits from our bank account with each pay. 

This set amount transfers the day after pay day into a high interest savings account that is linked to our everyday account. The reason we do it this way is because it makes it less tempting to spend these savings, having it separated from our daily expense accounts. Plus the automatic savings plan means we usually just set and forget. When the money transfers pretty much straight away, you don’t have time to miss it from your regular pay. 

Even if you are doing a small amount each pay, this will still add up and help you budget for your next family adventure!

Read more from Holly here.

#18 Join credit card loyalty programmes

It took us far too long to take advantage of the rewards programs that are attached to credit cards. We discovered by using our credit card to pay for everyday expenses our points would accumulate and can be used towards a flight, accommodation, car hire and more. It’s important to note that we don’t spend unnecessarily to accumulate points, but it’s a simple way to earn a reward for those regular expenses you charge monthly to your credit card.   

Since joining a credit card loyalty program it has saved us lots of money on our travels, and I recommend comparing the market for the best reward program that will suit your needs. We tend to use our points for flights as that is one of the top expenses in travel. We have booked flights through the credit card rewards system, and we have also transferred them to the airline loyalty program. Many of the leading banks have reward credit cards that have great perks with an added sign-up bonus. When shopping around a sign-up bonus is a big incentive as these “free” points allow you to start redeeming straight away. 

Read more from Sharee here.  

You might also be interested in my post- Top Five Destinations to Travel with a Baby

#19 Don’t try too hard to impress

We use a combination of methods to stretch our budget for family travel including working remotely, living frugally while at home, and not worrying about impressing anyone. 

My job is location-neutral, so I have been able to work – and continue earning a paycheck while traveling. Since I work a 9-to-5 job, this budget friendly tactic has the added benefit of allowing me to travel more without using my vacation or PTO days. However, truth be told, I like to unplug while on vacation, so we use this option minimally. 

Our biggest tip to budget for family travel is to simply not try too hard to impress anyone. For instance, we recently returned from a trip to the Motel 6. Is it the most glamorous hotel or something you would be excited to add to your Instagram feed? Probably not. But in reality, it was clean, cheap and in a great location. And we hardly spent any time there other than resting after a full day of hiking and fun! 

Family Seeking Adventure’s Alli and her daughter take in the views of Landscape Arch in Moab, Utah. With views like this, it doesn’t matter where you stay, so save money on accommodations. 

Read more from Alli here.

#20 Investigate cash back apps

I love to save on travel! My husband and I are both teachers; therefore, anything we can do to budget properly throughout the year, allows us some extra cash to use on vacations.

One of the ways I make some extra money to use on family travel is that I download cash back apps and sell items on eBay throughout the year. Some of the best cash back apps give me money for doing things I normally do, like shopping and groceries. Because the apps are linked to my PayPal account, I can easily transfer funds to my bank account whenever I choose.

Right before our family trip, I transfer the money, and voila, we have extra cash to use for our vacation. It has become a nice little bonus for us to use for a nicer meal or an extra activity on our trip. Due to these apps, we have earned over $600 to use on family travel. 

Read more from Margie here.

#21 Get an investing account

We do a lot of things to save money for travel as a family. But the one thing that we do to save the most money is probably the easiest!  

Our favorite way to save money for travel is using Acorns. Acorns is a simple investing account that allows you to connect your bank account and start saving without you even noticing! Acorns rounds up all of your purchases. So if you buy something for $1.99, Acorns will round up your purchase to the next $1 and deposit it into your Acorns account. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you start adding it all up it can increase very quickly.

You can also allocate a certain amount from your account to be deposited on a regular basis. We round up our purchases and also transfer several hundred over the month into Acorns. I’m surprised how quickly we were able to have several thousand dollars in our Acorns account without even noticing the missing money. Acorns money also takes several days to use or transfer, so it’s a good way to protect your money from impulse buying.

Read more from Vanessa here.

#22 Make money from your shopping

If you shop online or in the grocery store, you can earn money back to put towards your travel! When making purchases online at your favorite online retailers, shop through rebate websites like rakuten.com (formerly ebates.com), swagbucks.com and retailmenot.com. You will earn a percentage of your purchase back within 30-90 days and can redeem your earnings towards gift cards or to your PayPal account for cash!

Another way to earn money on purchases is through phone apps. After grocery shopping, submit your receipts on Ibotta, Receipt Hog, Checkout51, and Fetch Rewards. When your balance reaches a set minimum, you can redeem your earnings towards gift cards or have the money sent to your PayPal account.

Apps like RetailMeNot and DO$H allow you to earn money back on the purchases you make in brick and mortar stores. Check them frequently to see if you favorite store is listed, as they change often. Overall, using these websites and apps are not a lot of  effort, but they pay out in a big way and help reduce your overall travel costs.

Read more from Lauren here.

Stay in more and go out less

When budgeting for family travel, staying in instead of going out can make a huge difference! Plus, it is sometimes easier! Below are some great recommendations from my travel blogger colleagues, many of which I also do during my travels.

#23 Limit expensive entertainment at home

Travelling with your family can be pricey. And it can come at a cost. But if it a priority for you, as it is for me, there are plenty of ways to save money to travel.

My best suggestion is to limit expensive entertainment at home. It can be really easy, but you have to be conscious of what your entertainment includes. Is it purely activities? Or does it include eating out or buying booze? Everyone will have their own definition of entertainment.

For me it includes eating out, buying booze and activities. I do not cut it out completely, but eating out is once or twice a month and sometimes it just means ordering pizza for my family. I limit the booze I buy and we rarely spend on entertainment. This can save you hundreds of dollars every month. Taking your kids to a trampoline park can be $50 for just an hour of entertainment! Instead we take advantage of the outdoors in the summer months and instead go to a spray park or kayak at a  local lake!

Read more from Lindsay here.

You might also be interested in my post- The best accommodation when travelling with children

#24 Socialise at home

I can get a nice bottle of wine on offer in the supermarket for about £5. The same bottle of wine is likely to cost at least three times as much in a bar/restaurant! The same can be said for food. I can cook pasta and salad for my family at home for about £3, whereas a meal out in san Italian restaurant would like cost around £50!

Whilst going out to socialise is great, staying in can be lots of fun too. We generally opt to socialise at home nowadays, which enables us to save a substantial amount of money each month instead of spending it in bars, restaurants and coffee shops!

This is out approach on a day-to-day basis but also when we are travelling. We stay in with some nice food and drinks and a good movie and we save loads. Doing this helps us to be able to afford to extend the duration of our travels or to do some extra cool stuff while we are away. The kids are far more likely to remember going on the community tour or learning to snorkel with exotic fish than they are eating pizza in a fancy restaurant!

South Africa with a baby

Fore more tips like this read my post about how I paid off my debt quickly after almost going bankrupt.

#25 Cook at home

One of the main ways we are able to save for family travel is by foregoing eating out at restaurants on any sort of regular basis. We cook nearly all of our meals at home. Before kids, I ate take out lunch almost daily during my work day. I figured that I could’ve easily saved myself around $25 USD per week or $100 per month on that alone. For awhile, I regularly bought coffee in the mornings, too. Once I started making that at home, I saved $10 per week. For a single person, that’s definitely a good chunk of change for a year. 

For a family of four, going out regularly for meals adds up even faster. Instead of spending $40 plus at a restaurant, we’ll cook something less expensive at home. The difference helps us meet our savings goals. I keep my eye on the prize: going to the beach (or a destination I’m really excited to see)!

We also went to the extreme so that we could afford to travel more. My husband looked into assignments abroad with his company. He was able to land one! We now live in Mexico and are able to save a lot more money for traveling. Some of that money does go towards visiting our families in the USA each year, so it’s a sacrifice in a different way.

Read more from Natalie here.

#26 Stock up on food

Every time we plan a trip we stock up on food before we go. Usually we are camping so taking supplies makes sense, but you can save heaps by avoiding pricey produce on any trip.

There are some things that we know our two year old daughter loves such as crackers, hummus and cheese, as well as the usual staples like pasta and rice. It is definitely a good idea to stock up on non-perishables while these are on offer at your usual supermarket. Treats and fizzy drinks can also be bought in bulk to cut the cost.

Using an example from one of our road trips- we purchased two colas and two chocolate bars plus a loaf of bread at a remote service station in southwest Western Australia for around AU$16. The same would have cost AU$5 at our local supermarket.

If you travel with a camp fridge and freezer you can take your frugal travel one step further. I will often precook meals such a Bolognese, adding in plenty of fresh vegetables, and freeze it. That way we have plenty of and tasty, healthy meals we just need to reheat at the campsite.

By saving on items such as pasta and crisps, we are more able to purchase fresh local produce along the way. We always try to support the communities we travel through and buying fruit and vegetables from a farm shop, or fresh bread from a baker is a rewarding and truly delicious way to achieve this.

Campfire pizza made using dough prepared and then frozen at home, with toppings from our supermarket, served with salad from a local farm shop.

Read more from Suzanne here.

Plan what you do while away carefully

Careful planning can really help you to manage your budget for family travel. Think about what it is that you want to do while you’re away and do a bit of research to see if there is any way that you can reduce the cost. Below are a few ideas for how to do this.

#27 Find free attractions

A great way to save on your family travel is do a little research before your trip and find free local attractions to the place you are visiting. Some great places to look for these are on local tourism sites, the destination’s facebook page, Trip Advisor and local bloggers. Or even just googling “ free attractions in xxx”. When you are at your destination check out the local information centre and ask locals ( This could be a waiter, staff at your accommodation or a taxi driver) where they like to go.

Often you will find some great little gems that may be unique to what other tourists will see. Some things that may be free to the destination you are visiting are:

  • Parks
  • Museums
  • Galleries
  • Exhibitions
  • Local run tours
  • Walking tours
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Lookouts and Scenic Spots

Be sure to check the local events calendar too as you can find fun festivals, markets and shows that are free to go to.

Read more from Kirsty here.

#28 Look for discounts

There are often discounts if you know where to find them!

As the eternal student (well, it certainly feels that way sometimes!), I have come to learn that many tourist attractions offer discounts for students. All you need to do is show your student card at the gate. This has saved me hundreds over the years.

It is also worth looking for coupons. Sometimes you will find discount codes online or vouchers on flyers. You can also look on relevant Facebook groups or on marketplace websites like Groupon or Gumtree. Organisations will often have promotional deals and sometimes individuals will have vouchers that they can’t use.

It’s also worth taking a look at the opening days and times. Sometimes it will be cheaper on certain days or tif you arrive later in the day. Family packages can save you money. Young children are sometimes free so this is worth checking too.

South Africa with a baby

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Remind yourself to budget for family travel

Most of us aren’t travelling all of the time (*sob). Therefore it can be easy to forget about our travel savings and to spend money on every day things. Therefore, it is a great idea to have a some reminders!

#29 Use visual aids to help save the pennies

There are many assumptions about family travel, and one of those is that you can’t do it when you have a limited income. In our family, it’s certainly not the case, and it’s not because we have lots of money. 

It’s because we utilize a budget! We make and follow a budget throughout the year, but that alone isn’t what propels us to save. Thankfully, we have some visual aids that make all the difference when it comes to our family vacation plans!

First of all, we have a countdown timer on our phones for our next planned vacation. It’s so exciting to see that we are one day closer to our goals, and it allows us to have a reminder anytime we go to spend money. At home we have a Money Savings Thermometer. This is where we have certain dollar signs listed on the thermometer, and once we reach that stage, we color it in! So now we can see it everyday, and hold our entire family accountable.

We tell the kids that we aren’t able to get ice cream, because we are still saving for our vacation!

Just recently, we started a separate savings thermometer for our 4 year old (in the shape of a mickey mouse head!) so that he can learn how to save for himself by doing small chores around the house. It’s been a great way to get everyone involved in budgeting for our vacations. 

Read more from Seely here.  

#30 Teach the kids to save

Learning about money management is an important skill for children to learn, so why not teach them by motivating them to save for their holidays?

There are lots of cool money boxes that kids love. Whilst the amount of money that they put in might not cover much of the cost of the trip, it will help to teach them how valuable money is and that they need to make sacrifices in order to afford the things that they love!

Your children might not appreciate it when they put their Pound coin in their money box instead of buying that Kinder Egg, BUT they will get so much more from their travel experiences than they ever would from a chocolate bar!

South Africa with a baby

For more on how travel is the best education visit this post.

Conclusion: How to budget for family travel

Did you think you couldn’t afford family travel? Think again! As demonstrated through the 30 points outlined in this post, there are plenty of ways that you can stretch your travel budget in order to have amazing adventures- you just need to have a budget for family travel to make it happen (unless you’re rich… then you have no need to worry- but you also probably didn’t click on this post!).

I’d like to express my gratitude to all of my family travel blogger colleagues who contributed to this post on how to budget for family travel. I think that collectively we have made an excellent resource for travelling families all over the world!

p.s. one final day that I can afford family travel is to make a few Pounds here and there from this blog- so please help a blogger out and share this post if you found it helpful!

Happy family travels!

30 ways to budget for family travel
  1. Karen

    So many fantastic tips! I’ll definitely be using as many of these as possible for our next family holiday.

    • Hayley

      Thanks Karen, I’ll be using them too!

  2. Jen Brommer

    What a great post! This is the most thorough budget travel post that I have come across! Such awesome tip!

    • Hayley

      Thanks Jen, I’m glad you found it useful!

  3. Flight radar

    No wonder people love Asia its the value for money thing. I had no idea. These are great tips that should reduce the cost of travel for anyone.

  4. aankomst schiphol

    Excellent tips I must say. I agree especially with planning ahead because that way I can get an idea of how much I’m willing to spend and access if it’s actually worth it. Paying more attention to activities instead of accommodation is key, what’s the essence of travelling to a place if I’m still going to remain indoors for the best part of the visit. I also check out for discounts and if I can get good deals while making plans. Thank you for these great tips and reminders.

  5. rdw kenteken check

    I would love to visit somewhere foreign. it doesn’t matter where, just experience a different way of living.

  6. Charity

    These are great tips! Number 18 is my favorite 🙂 My husband and I were able to travel places for almost free just by using points 🙂



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