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15 Tips for Saving Money on Family Travel

Updated on October 30, 2012

Family travel is a great experience. Unfortunately, it can also be expensive. Luckily, there are a lot of little things that you can do to save money when traveling as a family. The following 15 tips provide a great starting point for making sure that you spend less on your family vacations.

1. Take advantage of free offers for kids. There are many offers for kids to fly free, stay free at hotels, get free food at various places and get free entry to certain attractions. Take advantage of all of these free offers especially if you have young children!

2. Consider road trips instead of flying. Getting a plane seat for every single person in the family is something that can add up quickly in terms of cost. If you have the option to pile everyone into the car instead then consider doing this to save money.

3. Go to off-the-beaten path places. The most popular attractions and cities tend to be the most expensive especially during the summer when family travel is most common. Go to explore lesser-known attractions instead and you’ll save a bundle.

4. Consider traveling to places that are in their off-season. The reason that many of these places aren’t in season is because they are too rainy or too hot during this time of year. However, just because a place is normally like that doesn’t mean that it’s like that this year. If you want to go to an exotic destination, choose a place that is in its off-season. Check the weather there right now and see if it’s suitable for your stay.

5. Weigh all costs carefully.Ask yourself what the cheapest way is to do things. You may be surprised at the answer. For example, many people assume that camping is cheaper than staying at a hotel. However, if you have to buy camping gear and rent a campsite then it could be less expensive to just get a room.

6. Use coupons and other deals. You can save a lot of money by using coupons. Use them for food at chain restaurants when you’re on vacation. Use daily deal sites to get good prices on attractions at your destination city. Use them for hotel and airfare discounts.

7. Pack your own food. Using coupons to reduce the cost of food when traveling is great. However, it’s even better to pack your own food and to shop at a grocery store at your destination. You’ll save a lot of money if you aren’t taking the whole family out to eat three meals per day. At the very least, pack snacks so that you can avoid vending machines.

8. Choose a hotel that offers entertainment for the children. Hotels that provide something for your kids to do while you are there will save you a lot of money. If there’s a pool to play in, a game room or even a babysitting service then your kids will be kept busy. This means you won’t need to leave the hotel as much to entertain them so you’ll save money that way.

9. Skip the unnecessary extras. You don’t necessarily need a hotel with a spa or fitness club when you’re going on a family vacation. Skip the extras and just get what the family is really going to want to use during their stay.

10. Find the free things to do. There are often free activities that you can enjoy in the destination that you are in. This can include everything from local events to unusual tourist attractions. Do some research in advance and ask the locals when you get there to find out what your options are for enjoying free entertainment and activities during your stay.

11. Go on a group vacation with another family. You can split the cost of a lot of expenses this way. One great option is to rent out an apartment together instead of getting a hotel room. The kids have a great time because they get a chance to play with the other kids in the group. It’s typically an all-around positive experience.

12. Shorten the vacation. It’s tempting to take the entire two weeks that you have off of work to enjoy a really long family vacation. However, a trip that long adds up the costs day by day. Consider shortening your vacation to just one week or even just a few days. You’ll spend a lot less on your travels and still create some great memories together as a family.

13. Leave one parent at home. You don’t actually have to take the entire family on a trip every single time that you go. Parents can trade off. This saves a lot of money especially if you’re a family that goes to theme parks and museums since adult admission tends to be pricy for those things. Even if both parents come on the trip, you can take turns taking the kids to these types of things to reduce costs during your stay. Unless both parents are dying to see a particular attraction, this is a great way to get some downtime alone and save money during a family vacation.

14. Enjoy downtime during the trip. Speaking of downtime, it’s important for families to make sure that they aren’t going, going, going during the whole vacation. It isn’t an obligation that you go to every single (expensive) attraction. Take some time just to read and relax and talk together at the hotel. You’ll save money and do some real family bonding.

15. Budget and plan. Finally, the thing that you really need to start with if you want to save money on family travel which is budgeting and planning in advance of the trip. This allows you to figure out what you’re realistically going to spend. Get the kids involved in the planning to make them feel more included in your vacation as well as to teach them some budgeting tips.


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  • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

    Susan Haze 8 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Great tips. These trips are so important for a family as a time to become closer. You are absolutely right, it doen't have to cost the moon to be a memorable trip.

  • msorensson profile image

    msorensson 8 years ago

    I have a son, soon to be a college student.

    We have never really gone on vacation together as we have two dogs that get traumatized when I leave, so he spent his summers at camps everywhere in the country and I stayed home with the dogs. This hub is very helpful for a young family, Kathryn!! Thanks for sharing.