Planning a family vacation is both exciting and stressful, because your kids have to have a blast, but at the same time, you need to be sure that you’re not spending more than you can afford. If you do this right, you can spend less on an unforgettable family vacation. Or are we talking about a Family vacation on A Budget Yearly? If you’re like me, the thought of going on a family vacation sounds expensive. I mean, jetting off to the Bahamas or Riviera Maya just doesn’t seem to be in the cards for a family of four. But, we always longed to go on a family vacation every year. And no, visiting our relatives doesn’t count as a “vacation.” My husband and I are both in our early 30s with two young kids. We work hard, but have also been smart about budgeting and saving throughout our marriage so we can travel more often now that we’re on the other side of paying for college.
Like many families, your family vacation is something you do every year. However, you’d like to bring the vacation experience up to the next level. Rather than paying more and more money on vacations, you’d like to have a nice low budget vacation. You don’t want your family anticipation of the trip to suddenly be cut short by high expenses. You want your entire family to have fantastic memories of a great inexpensive trip that comes in at a low price. Traveling around the world is one of the hardest yet most rewarding experiences a person can have. It is also quite expensive when you are traveling with a family. I highly recommend that everyone should make at least one international trip in their lifetime but that does not mean you have to put yourself into debt to do so.
Family Vacation On A Budget Yearly
HOW TO BUDGET FOR A FAMILY TRIP
Family vacations aren’t cheap. On average, according to the 2017 LearnVest Money Habits and Confessions Survey, Americans spend 10% of their annual income on vacations.
And if that statistic doesn’t concern you, then these might:
- It takes Americans an average of six months to financially recover from a vacation.
- 74% of Americans say that they have gone into debt to pay for a vacation.
- 39% of millennials spend 15% or more of their annual income on vacations.
- And speaking of millennials, 49% say they are actually willing to go into debt to pay for a big vacation (compared to only 18% of baby boomers).
But even if you are willing to go into debt, does that mean you have to? Consider this—LearnVest’s survey also found that 55% of Americans have forgotten to include vacations in their annual budget.
Yes, vacations are expensive. But if you budget your money properly, you can spend your time having fun traveling abroad with your children instead of worrying about the toll the trip is taking on your finances.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP & CREATING YOUR BUDGET
There are 7 key steps you’ll need to take in order to plan your trip and budget for your family’s expenses:
- Decide on a Destination
- Book Your Flights and Prepare for Other Means of Transportation
- Choose Your Accommodations
- Consider Your Dining Options
- Plan Your Activities
- Determine Your Costs
- Save Up Money
Read on to discover helpful tips and advice for tackling each step of the budget creation process.
You won’t be able to accurately estimate how much your trip will cost until you pick out your destination. Certain places are much more budget-friendly than others.
If you’re having trouble settling on an affordable destination, you can check out Forbes’ list of the 33 cheapest places to travel.
Step 2: Book Your Flights & Prepare for Other Means of Transportation
The cost of travel doesn’t have to break the bank. Read on to discover how to save on flights, car rentals, and public transportation as your family travels abroad.
Booking a Flight
You can use travel comparison sites like Skyscanner or Kayak to find great deals on flights. You might also want to consider downloading an app called Hopper, which uses data to advise you on the best time to book your flight. You tell Hopper when and where you’re traveling, and the app predicts when ticket prices will be the lowest.
Some airlines offer discounts to children under 12 who are flying internationally. It may be a good idea to contact your airline directly and ask them about child discounts. If your child does end up flying on a discounted ticket, make sure you are able to provide proof of their age when checking in for your flight.
“When planning an international trip, check flights from major airports you can easily reach. We drove an extra three hours to catch a flight to Paris, but it saved our family $2,000 on airfare compared to our “local” airport. It always pays to shop around.”
– Karen Dawkins, Family Travels on a Budget
If you’re planning on renting a car at any time during your trip, make sure you factor in the need for car seats. Car rental companies will probably charge you around $10 to $15 per day to rent a car seat. This can add up, especially if you need multiple car seats. If you’re a member of AAA, then you can get free use of one car seat if you rent through Hertz.
Bringing your own car seat may be the best option. Note that most airlines will allow you to check car seats for free. Not only will this save you money, but it will also better ensure the safety of your child. In 2015, Consumer Reports sent child passenger safety technicians to two major car rental companies and found that one of them kept its car seats in a shed. Most were missing their owner’s manuals and many had missing parts.
So if you do rent a car seat from a car rental company, thoroughly inspect the seat before driving out of the lot. Make sure all the parts are there and that you know how to use it properly.
If you’re heading to a major city, you will probably end up using public transportation quite often. Make sure you do some research to figure out the best way to pay. Buying some sort of pass or travel card may be cheaper than paying per ride.
There is a good chance your children will be able to ride for free. For instance, children under 11 can travel free of charge in London.
Step 3: Choose Your Accommodations
A big part of your overall vacation expenses depends on what accommodations you end up staying in. From hotels to rentals to resorts, there are plenty of choices out there. Unless you’re lucky enough to have family or friends to crash with, you’re going to have to shell out some money for a place to stay. But how do you decide which one is the best option financially?
Renting a house, condo, apartment, or room is always an alternative to staying in a hotel. And there are plenty of sites to help you find your perfect home away from home.
With Airbnb, you can rent short-term lodging to stay in during your trip. If you’re not sure whether staying in a hotel or Airbnb would be cheaper, you can check out an analysis by Busbud of the average costs of hotels and Airbnbs in 22 cities across the world to help you make your decision. For instance, this study determined that hotels are cheaper than Airbnbs by an average of $139.42 in Barcelona, while Airbnbs are cheaper than hotels by an average of $108.29 in London.
Another popular vacation rental site is VRBO. Simply enter in your destination, arrival and departure dates, and the number of guests and search through countless rental listings.
You may decide to stay at an all-inclusive family resort, such as one run by Club Med. With this option, you will pretty much know the cost of your trip up front, which is a plus. But is it really a financially smart option? Yes, you will have access to food, amenities, and activities all in one place. But it doesn’t usually come cheap. On top of that, you could end up spending even more money than you originally intended if you decide to venture out and explore restaurants and activities outside the resort.
If you and your family do decide that a resort is the best option for you, make sure you do some research to figure out where you can get the best bang for your buck. You can start by checking out this list of 10 all-inclusive resorts where kids stay free.
“Family vacations can be tricky from a budget standpoint as school-age kids are all more or less free during the same periods, so families lose the flexibility that other travelers have to travel during the off-season to bring pricing down.
Best practices to make trips more wallet-friendly include booking trips as earlier as possible to maximize the choice of accommodations, as this can be the most expensive piece of a trip given that families usually need a suite or two rooms. Apartment inventory can work well to save money if families are staying in a destination long enough to meet any minimum stay requirements and/or make the lack of hotel-like amenities worth the cost savings.
There are a plethora of family-friendly resources these days that provide invaluable insight into the destinations and activities that are tried and tested with kids of all ages. We also recommend using an expert travel agent who specializes in families, as they will have a ready list of the best options and can put a fantastic trip together using vetted options.”