The Ultimate Guide to Budgeting for Family Travel

travelling packages

It’s no secret that family vacations are expensive. And it doesn’t take much to run into the red zone when you’re trying to plan a trip with kids in tow. But there are ways to keep your costs under control, and still have plenty of fun. Here are some tips to budget family travel and make sure everyone has a great time while they’re at it!


A small boat in a large body of water

The best way to budget family travel is by planning as much as possible. Figure out what you want from your vacation where will you be going? How long can you stay? What does each person want out of the trip? Then make reservations early, if possible getting prices down months before your actual departure date can save hundreds of dollars.

Compare prices

A piece of luggage sitting on the grass

Once you have a general idea of what you want, start checking around for the best prices. Websites like Kayak and Expedia can help you compare rates from different airlines and hotels. Sites like Groupon and Living Social often have deals on trips, too.

Use points

If you have airline or hotel points saved up, now is the time to use them. Many hotels also offer discounts for members of their loyalty programs. Points are big savers and can easily add up to a free trip or significant discounts on hotels and airfare, and it’s a big help to have a budget family travel.

Consider a staycation

If you’re not sure your budget can handle a full-blown vacation, consider a staycation instead. There are plenty of fun things to do in your town or city, museums, theme parks, zoos, and more. Make a list of what’s fun for everyone in your group, and get started planning!

Pack your food

No matter how long your flight is, you’re going to get hungry at some point. Save yourself some serious cash by packing a picnic so you don’t have to buy expensive airport or plane snacks. If you’re going to be on the road a lot, bring along a cooler and stock it with sandwiches, fruit, snacks, drinks, whatever your family likes.

Check out local deals

If you’re visiting a new place, ask around for deals and discounts. Many city governments have tourism offices that can help steer you in the right direction, whether it’s free admission days at museums, discounted tickets to tourist attractions, or money off a rental car. Be sure to ask about any available family passes, as well.

Bring a travel book

If you’re going to an area with lots of tourist attractions, be sure to pick up a guidebook before you leave. Many locales have books tailored for families that provide tips and discounts on all the sites your kids will love most. You can find more information on these books at

Stay longer

This might seem counterproductive to saving money, but sometimes the best trips are the ones that take more time. Not only does this give you more time with your family, but it also gives you a chance to explore at your leisure and hopefully avoid any costly last-minute changes to reservations!

Skip souvenirs

Don’t automatically buy souvenirs for everyone, if you can, make a deal where everyone has to contribute some cash toward the gift. If you do decide on trinkets instead, check out dollar stores and other thrift stores in your area before heading to the tourist shops. You might be surprised by what you find!

Keep track

When you’re on vacation, it can be hard to keep track of everything spent, meals, souvenirs, attractions, and activities all add up quickly! To make sure you don’t overspend, start a small travel journal before you leave. If you fill it in every day, you’ll have a complete record of all your spending (and it makes for great memories, too!)

Final Words

The bottom line when budgeting for family travel is to be flexible. There will always be unexpected expenses, so try to have a little extra cash set aside in case something comes up. And above all else, have fun and enjoy your family!

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