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7 Ways to Save for and Plan an Affordable Family Vacation

January 28 is National Plan for Vacation Day. In recognition, we’re revisiting this informative April 2017 article.

Photo Credit: Monet Hambrick

Hopefully, my “5 Good Things You Will Experience When Traveling with Children” article last month inspired you to start planning a trip with your kids. One question I get asked a lot is how we afford to travel so much. Traveling as a family 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.

  1. Create a Savings Account Specifically for Traveling

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.

2. Restructuring Your Budgets

For many families like my own, creating 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 statements and was in shock at how much we spent on restaurants, mainly because we were just too lazy to cook. After seeing that, 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 six days a week. We also minimize the amount of drinks we order at bars and restaurants, instead opting to 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. 

3. 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 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 we are, 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 backburner 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 (our winter), 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 this August for only $400; when the deal was over, the same flight was $1395.

4. Ditch Hotels and Opt for a Vacation Home

Vacation homes hit three of our must-haves for affordable travel: They are usually much cheaper then 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 by eating out three times a day. Renting a home allows us to go grocery shopping and cook at least one meal each day, even if that’s packing sandwiches for lunch, saving us a lot of cash.

5. Use Groupons and Promo Codes

Groupons are available worldwide, so always check to see if you can find a tour or activity you already planned to do. Also check to see if that city has a multi-attraction pass through which you get entry to multiple places for one price. Before purchasing anything online, look for promo codes; a quick google search typically saves us 10-20 percent.

6. Take Public Transportation Once 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.

7. Get a Travel Credit Card

Each year, we earn enough points on our Chase credit card to get round-trip flights for the family just by buying the things we have to on a daily basis. I prefer having credit cards through which your points can be used for any airline versus being tied to one since we fly various airlines based 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!

Monet Hambrick is the writer behind The Traveling Child’s blog, which was created to inspire parents to travel the world with their kids while providing tips to make it easier. She has traveled to five continents with her girls, who are 2 and 1. You can find her on online at The Traveling Child or on Instagram @thetravelingchild.

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