Family Savings for Budget Travel

Traveling Graces

In our family (including our kids!), we will always choose a shared experience over any material possession or gift. This comes in all shapes and sizes for us: cheering on our favorite sports team, getting season passes to local amusement parks, hiking a new trail, but especially exploring new adventures while traveling. Because we have found this to be SO beneficial to strengthening relationships in our marriage and with our kids, we budget for and prioritize travel!On average, we try to do four week-long trips each year along with several other long weekend trips. While traveling, we have been to 5 continents, roughly 20 countries and countless cities along the way (some detailed in our vlogs!). This was all before our big adventure around the world so we’ve now added A LOT of stats to this. We realize this is a huge blessing in our lives to be able to do this. We also understand many family’s work schedules and/or finances don’t allow these experiences. However, because we have loved traveling as much as we have, we want to share with you a few ways that we save money while traveling. Our hope is to encourage you to step out and try something new with your family. So let’s get to it; here are 7 ways our family saves on travel.

1. We budget for our family to travel!We don’t jump at a great deal as soon as we find it. We don’t charge it to a credit card and figure out how we will pay it off later. Instead, we save…sometimes for weeks or even months. Never once, at the end of a trip, have we said, “This wasn’t worth it. We spent that money and have nothing to show for it.” We treasure the memories, pictures, and videos even ten-plus years down the road and consider it money well spent!

2. We PRIORITIZE family travel in our budget.

We’ve told you some about what we do, now let us share several things that we choose NOT to do.

  • We do NOT drive fancy cars.
  • We do NOT own expensive electronics or furniture.
  • We do NOT live in an over-the-top home that half our income goes to.
  • We do NOT buy nice, new clothing for ourselves or our kids. (Clearance racks and consignment sales for us!)
  • We do NOT pick up last-minute take-out or eat out often. We budget for pizza delivery once a week (with coupons) and a family night out about once a month and/or with a gift card.
  • We do NOT buy each other lots of expensive gifts. Christmas in our house consists of 3 gifts for our kids (usually from a consignment sale).

Let us say clearly that choosing to do any of the above is not wrong, it’s just about what your family values most. We probably budget a bigger percentage for travel than most, but that money has to come from other areas. We cut back in these areas in an effort to do the two things that matter most to us. For our family, along with traveling, being generous and giving sacrificially fulfills why we are intentional with our money. We choose NOT to do all these things and more in order to free up as much money as possible to give generously and spend time together as a family through travel.

3. We compare prices between companies and do our research.

Sometimes it’s cheaper to do things a la carte and other times it’s better to book a package. Sometimes it’s cheaper to go by car, plane, train or boat. Often we find a deal through one company and then email other companies to see if they could give us a lower price. Through all of this though, you can only know what a great price is after doing your research. You also have to do this over a relatively long period of time. We have found that 2-3 months of loosely keeping our eyes out for deals before really diving into the planning for a specific trip helps us get a good idea of what is going to work best. This is before we even get serious about the details of planning that trip.

4. We have flexible travel dates and destinations in mind.In short, this is the way we travel. Our family is always on the lookout for great deals for all over the world. We do this mainly through email newsletters we sign up for. Travelzoo, Shermans Travel, Vacations to Go, and Scotts Cheap Flights are some of our favorites. We also keep an eye on social media promotions, Groupon, etc. After we find an amazing deal, we look at the dates, price, and location to see if it will work. If you begin your travel planning with “we want to fly from our nearest airport to this one specific destination, from this date to this date”, it’s going to be much more difficult to find a great price.Ask yourself what compromises you can make in order to make travel more affordable for your family. This will also make it more realistic to do the things you are most passionate about. Are you OK with driving an hour or two to an airport that will enable you to cut your flights costs sometimes in half? Are you willing to give up flying entirely and driving to your destination if able? Can you live with going during an offseason or staying at a more modest rental?

5. We (sometimes) cruise to see several destinations in one trip at an affordable cost.

If you want to see as much as you can in the most relaxing and often cheapest way you can, cruising is often the way to go. Several years ago, we got to visit Paris, Venice, Rome, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Greece, AND the Amalfi Coast all in one trip! Most of these destinations were part of a twelve-day bargain priced cruise we found. Instead of being exhausted hopping from flight to flight or train to train, we were pampered, fed, entertained, and slept wonderfully between each spot on a beautiful cruise ship.

6. We get travel discounts or free activities for our family.In the past, we have looked up local deals of the destination we are traveling to. We will buy deals for eating out or entertainment off of Groupon, or Travelzoo. Google search “Free things to do in ______” and see what comes up. In Egypt, a tour company we were emailing with offered to give us the entire two-day excursion (including a hotel stay) for free if we could find ten other people that wanted to do it with us. The group that went with us was thrilled to have all the work done for them, already negotiated at a great price, and we ended up with a completely free two-day tour!

7. We prioritize to spend our money on activities we are most excited about and cut back in areas our family doesn’t care as much about.

In general, our family personally prioritizes adventure activities and new experiences over eating at expensive restaurants or paying for upgrades. We assess our goals for each vacation based the type of trip we are taking. When we traveled to Israel, our one goal was to learn as much as we possibly could about as many different biblical sites as our time would allow. We didn’t leave time for (or pay for!) long relaxing meals or shopping in their markets. However, when we traveled to Tahiti, we wanted to stay in an overwater bungalow, so the majority of our money went to our accommodations. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully, this list has inspired you to realize traveling with your family is more attainable than you thought. Treasured memories can be made at every price point. Our hope is through sharing our favorite experiences on local, national, and international levels you can develop a vision for your family to deepen relationships through experiences. For more information on our favorite websites for finding incredible travel deals, check out this post here.

What is your best money-saving traveling tip?

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Our family set off on a trip around the world, have visited 17 countries in 6 months, and are sharing our adventures along the way. We have a passion for strengthening our family with shared new experiences through travel.

Kentucky State
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