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How to Vacation With Your Family on a Budget

Updated on June 16, 2011

Who wouldn’t want to go on a travel vacation without spending too much on the pocket? I bet everyone does.

Yet in this tight economy we are living, traveling for a family vacation without a plan to save money can be very expensive. To some, it may even sound more like a luxury than a need to take a break from life’s stressful daily routines.

So how can you vacation with your family on a limited budget?

Well, the good news is - there are in fact several ways you can do to take your family for a vacation even though you’re on a tight budget. If you know how to plan carefully and do things wisely, you can even take your family for a travel vacation more often than you think you can -without spending a fortune. By doing simple things wisely, you can even save money and still pursue your family’s dream vacation even on a limited budget.

Check out these budget travel tips below to help you plan an affordable getaway with your family. Who knows, you might be taking your family on a vacation more than just once in every year with the same budget.

Visit Istanbul's magnificent Blue Mosque - its a world famous museum which gives free entrance to the general public.
Visit Istanbul's magnificent Blue Mosque - its a world famous museum which gives free entrance to the general public. | Source

Plan ahead.

Going for a travel vacation with your family on a limited budget requires early planning and enough time to research. Plan in advance and visit websites that offer travel discounts and various budget vacation options such as tripadvisor and  See if you can get better deals and start comparing each option.  Some sites may charge you with a service fee, but if they can arrange flight segments for your family from different airlines and combine it to make a great deal for you - the better.  If you are planning for an out-of-the country travel vacation, try to look for destinations with cheaper airfares as much as possible.

Vacation Destination

Remember, you won't be traveling alone but with your family, so if you want to really make the most out of your budget travel then be very flexible in choosing your vacation destination so you won't be breaking the bank. Start researching on the net to find out the best budget friendly locations that you and your family might be interested in going to and use a map to look up for cities that are close in proximity to a more popular vacation destination.

The same flexibility is needed when it comes to choosing the dates and seasons of the places you go.  For instance, most prices for hotels and accomodations are usually high in summer but low in early spring and autumn.  If you plan to take your family on a beach resort, choose the beaches that are still comfortably warm even during the non-peak season.  Booking early or late can also save you money by taking advantage of early booking or last-minute discounts.  Also, remind your family to travel light to avoid extra baggage weight charges. Let each one carry only one bag whenever possible and avoid using oversized luggages.

My son and nephew on the kid's pool during our family vacation in Antalya, Turkey.
My son and nephew on the kid's pool during our family vacation in Antalya, Turkey. | Source


Check out budget friendly hotel or hostel accommodations. If you will be traveling with kids, perhaps a family hotel with children's playground and kid's pool or perhaps a rental house can be a good option. You can start searching online for places and locations with low-budget but family-friendly accommodations, affordable places to eat and dine, and with cost-effective transportation.

If your vacation will be on beach resort locations, choosing for cottages or rooms without sea-views in a beach hotel would be a more practical option. Beach hotel accommodations with sea-views are usually the most expensive. Families who do not mind walking can also opt for safe back streets lodging since they are usually cheaper than the ones located nearest to the beaches, as well as near the city center, highways and just along the busy streets when staying in hotels. Travellers on a budget should be open-minded and must consider several cheaper options in choosing family friendly accommodations.

A full Turkish breakfast inclusive of our cave hotel accommodation in Cappadocia, Turkey.
A full Turkish breakfast inclusive of our cave hotel accommodation in Cappadocia, Turkey. | Source


Eating out is usually expensive, but eating in the hotel without meals included in your accommodation can cost you so much more.  So unless you’ve booked for bed and breakfast, half board, or full board (all-inclusive) accommodation, it would be much more practical if you avoid having your meals inside the hotel. You can take your family out for a walk at a nearby cafe or local restaurant to dine. Sometimes, going out of your hotel room to buy some groceries at local supermarkets or eating out at local restaurants can be part of your family’s travel adventure and fun.  And if you’re lucky to stumble upon the local favorite restaurants that serve really delicious local cuisine at a much more affordable price, you’ll be all smiles on your vacation even with a limited budget.  Also, if you’ll be booking for a house rental, a beach cottage, or a family suite with a kitchenette, you’ll be able to save a bundle just by cooking quick and easy meals and breakfasts for the whole family. Buying groceries at local supermarkets and cooking most of your family meals together will really save you a whole lot more on your budget family vacation.

Getting on Turyol ferryboats is an easier and cheaper way to see the beautiful sights of Istanbul in a Bosphorus cruise.
Getting on Turyol ferryboats is an easier and cheaper way to see the beautiful sights of Istanbul in a Bosphorus cruise. | Source


If you’re planning for an out-of-the country family vacation, then you should try looking for destinations with cheaper airfares. Purchase round trip tickets as it’s usually cheaper than one way airfares. The same goes with car pick-up transfers at the airports. Though there are some hotels that provide free pick-up transfers for hotel accommodations of more than 3-4 days. If you’ll be travelling with small kids, don’t forget to inform the car rental company that you’ll be needing car seats. In Turkey, there are some car rental companies who’ll provide children’s car seats without extra charge – but you’ll have to inform them earlier as to your child’s age and or weight. And while you’ll be out and about in your destination, consider taking the slower means of transportation such as metros, subways, and metro buses for inter city tours. Another way is to take the public ferry boats to take you to the other interesting places in the city through a blue cruise. They are usually far more cheaper than taking taxis and can save you a great deal on your budget. For longer trips, you can take either the bus or train than flying on air which will usually cost you more than twice the bus and train fares. If you’ll be traveling in Turkey, check out the Turkish government's IETT website for more information on bus and train fares as well as the IDO for fast ferries and boat fares including discounts.

Kapali ar - another great place to shop or just walk around in Istanbul.
Kapali ar - another great place to shop or just walk around in Istanbul. | Source


Most of us would usually reserve a budget for some souvenir shopping during our travel vacations. If you do so, look for good inexpensive local shops to buy souvenirs from your trip. In Turkey, the Kapalı Çarşı or the Covered Bazaar (also known as the Grand Bazaar) with thousands of small shops that items of all sorts and the long line of boutiques and local shops at Istiklal street in the busy Taksim Square area are just among the best places to shop for authentic Turkish souvenir items. Also, most airports have duty free shops where you can purchase some pretty memorable items, too if care enough to take time to look for one. They may not always be the best deal around but they are usually tax-free which makes it a much cheaper option to shop. Also, when shopping around don’t forget for some possible tax refunds. There are countries that let you get part if not all of the retail sales tax back so it would be a good idea to always keep your receipts and proofs of purchases.

Cappadocia, Turkey
Cappadocia, Turkey | Source

More Tips

To really find out more on what your destination area has to offer, try to visit the country's or the city's official tourism website. You can also expand your research on a particular vacation spot by reading other people's travel blogs as well as reviews about a particular destination. There are lots of people who frequently travel to certain places and write about it. So try to dig out and get their ideas and tips.

Finally, if you give yourself ample time to plan ahead and do some researching, you’ll be able to find out that in fact there are so many wonderful sights and interesting places in the world that are just "inexpensively" waiting to be explored.


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