How To Enjoy Family Travel On A Budget: 15 Top Tips!

We all have dreams of epic family travel adventures with our children and want to create happy memories that last a lifetime, but as with everything these days, money is always at the back of our mind.

We have made travel our life for more than 25 years, and we value stealing back quality time with our loved ones over material possessions any day, but we can’t argue with the fact that family travel is expensive – and gets more expensive as your kids get older.

But that doesn’t mean that travel has to stop. There are ways to lighten the expenses and make your dreams happen and your moments count.

mother and two daughters posing for selfie in front of grand canyon views
Grand Canyon South Rim

We’ve been traveling with my two daughters since they were born (16 years now), and we’ve learned a few tips and tricks over the years to save a penny or two!

Here are some of our top tips for family travel on a budget!

Disclaimer: This blog post is sponsored by our partner Allianz Travel (AGA Service Company) and we have received financial compensation as ambassadors, but all opinions about the Grand Canyon are our own.

Tips For Family Travel on a Budget

1. Make A Plan And Stick To It

two girls hiking up Sedona Cathedral Rock Hike with kids top things to do in arizona
Amazing hike in Sedona

When you have a plan and have allocated budgets, you’ll find it much easier to stick to that plan as you go.

Allow yourself a little wiggle room, and try and save where you can so you can add to your wiggle room later on.

Yes sacrifice sucks, but those small sacrifices can lead to monumental gains in the long run. If you know where you can save money, and do so, then you don’t have to feel guilty about splurging on a bucket list item later on.

2. Travel With Kids While They Are Young

young girl holding baby Kangaroo
Savannah holding a baby roo at the Kangaroo Sanctuary

Babies and young children are so cheap to travel with. They don’t need much, can often get free or cheap rates on attractions, and you can carry most of their food and supplies around with you.

Our eldest, Kalyra, is creeping towards the “adult” age – that is for travel prices and is even now exercising her rights to eat off the adult menu! Plus, she’s old enough for her own room in a hotel rather than paying for a roll away bed.

Don’t run away from the idea of traveling with kids, embrace the chance to travel while rates are cheaper!

3. Enjoy a Staycation Or Travel Locally

girls looking at a canyon
Boynton Canyon

I LOVE staycations with my family. It’s much cheaper and is way less hassle. You don’t have to go far when you travel, why not get to know what is great about your local area?

Thing about why you love to travel and what you like to get out of it, and find those similar experiences.

You won’t care that you are actually only 5 miles up the road as you’ll be getting the feeling that you’re really traveling for.

4. Consider Road Trips From Home

F250 on Chisos Basin Drive Big Bend Natinal Park Texas (2)
Big Bend NP

Road trips are our favorite way to explore now we permenantly live in the US. No airport hassles, excess luggage fees or overpriced flights for each member of the family!

You can carry a lot more, travel on your own schedule, be as flexible as you like and seek those unscripted off the path travel experiences, and you just have one bill – the fuel costs.

A family road trip is where the journey becomes part of the adventure.

Plus, you can take your own car and if you have young kids, you can save on renting costs, bring a car seat rather than renting one, and save money on local transport.

5. Opt To Go Camping with Kids

caravans in the desert
So how do you like our campsite near Big Bend in Texas?

With this crazy switched on urban lifestyles most of us have, it’s important to unplug and reconnect to nature.

Camping with kids is good for everyone’s soul, and it is super cheap and kids LOVE it!!

Don’t worry if you hate bugs and a little discomfort, there are plenty of glamping options these days as well as campervans, motorhomes and RVs.

But, really nothing can beat a good old tent, or even a swag, under a starry sky.

The price of pitching a tent, or even plugging up an RV, could be the same as a few nights in a hotel so it’s definitely worth it.

6. Seek Out Travel Deals

mother and two girls in Times Square -
Times Square, NYC

Using deal finding sites like Groupon, you can often find great discounts on local experiences like trolley tours and cruises.

Local magazines and tourist brochures may also have these.

If we’re visiting a city we know we’ll be doing a lot of sightseeing, like New York, we’ll purchase city sightseeing passes which can save us a lot of money on attraction fees and other discount perks on restaurants and shows.

7. Ditch Hotels for Home Rentals & Share Costs (Groups Only)

pink flamingoes in swimming pool overlooking golf course
Our 7 night stay in this Orlando villa was bliss

Hotels come with plenty of extra fees, expensive restaurants, parking fees, and endless opportunities for tipping (especially in the US!).

Traveling families and large groups can save a lot of money by renting a home or Airbnb instead. Not only on the room rate, but also on eating out, tipping, resort fees, and parking!

And you get so much extra space! You know you need it.

This works wonders especially for larger families, who often have to book more than one hotel room.

Even better, traveling with other families, rent a huge house which will be even cheaper and you can all have mad fun together.

8. Save Costs on Food By Cooking For Yourself

plates of food on a table

You can save money on food by opting not to eat out.

Cook in your apartment or rental home, take your own snacks and food with you, look for kids eat free deals or happy hour prices at restaurants, grocery store buffets, or get local delivery.

You can always have your kids share meals because those serving sizes in the US are generally on the extra large size.

9. Travel Out Of Season

two girls on Bright Angel Trail covered in snow
Grand Canyon in the winter

This maybe tricky taking into account school holidays, but, you can save a lot of money traveling out of peak season and it’s always nicer to travel away from the crowds.

We visited the Grand Canyon during winter! It was so pleasant having almost every view point to ourselves and it’s so much cheaper.

We homeschooled while traveling, and so tend to spend the summer at home and then travel when the rest of school is in, which saves us a lot of money.

Use features like flexible travel dates in search engines to help you find those cheaper days to fly or stay in hotels.

10. Check for Hidden Fees

woman braiding a girls hair
Movenpick Resort, Boracay

It feels like family travel is rife with hidden fees these days – what about those horrible resort fees?! And dare I mention those so-called budget airlines and the cheeky “seat selection” costs.

That’s why it’s important that you carefully evaluate the costs of everything you book before you pay for it. It’s likely you’ll also have added extra fees for parking in many hotels, and if you stay in vacation rentals, there’s usually a cleaning fee and booking service fee.

There may also extra taxes such as City Tax, depending on where you go.

Other hidden fees to watch out for are rental excess insurance coverage. Your credit card may cover this already.

Certain insurance policies with Allianz travel insurance will cover the excess insurance for car rentals too, so no need to pay those hefty extra fees.

11. Earn and Travel

woman on computer beside swimming pool
Work and travel – great office

This may not be relevant nor the style in which you want to travel, but I am including it as it is how I have managed to travel for over 25 years now.

I simply earn and travel.

I’ve lived and worked in 5 countries and now we have our own travel business so we can earn money as we travel. You don’t have to be a travel blogger or a writer to do so, there are actually many jobs you can do abroad on a working holiday visa.

Here are some of the jobs I’ve had around the world: teacher, bartender, waitress, pearl farmer, door to door sales woman, and Craig used to work for Delta – yep free stand by flights. Thank you, business class tickets to Australia!

There are many ways you can earn money while you travel which greatly reduces your expenses and the need to save.

The Easy Way to Work and Travel the World

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12. Visit Cheaper Destinations

woman holding a child on a canoe
Bangkok floating markets

Traveling to cheap countries is the best way to stretch your family vacation budget without sacrificing experience.

Countries in Asia such as India and Thailand are known to be affordable, as well as beckon travelers with their rich culture and stunning landscapes and sites.

In South America, countries such as Bolivia and Colombia are much cheaper than the popular destinations like Peru or Argentina.

In Central America and the Caribbean, consider somewhere more off the beaten path like Puerto Rico which provides a taste of the Caribbean without breaking the bank.

Families can enjoy cheap family vacations and create memorable experiences without financial strain simply by choosing the right place.

13. Visit Nature Sites

people hiking on mountains in yosemite
Hiking in Yosemite National Park

You can save a lot of money on attractions by visiting nature sites. Go for a hike in the woods, swim in waterfalls, or relax on a beach – most nature sites are free to visit, unless you’re visiting a national park.

If you’re traveling the USA, get a National Parks Pass. This will allow you access to many of the top national parks such as Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite National Park, but at one fixed price.

This saves you on multiple entrance fees.

14. Get a Travel Credit Card & Use Reward Points

savannah on caroline's back in front of the eiffel tower

Acquiring a travel credit card is a savvy way to save on for adventures, as well as save money on your trip.

These specialized cards often come with enticing sign-up bonuses, such as rewards points for everyday spending, as well as travel-related perks like airport lounge access and travel insurance.

By signing up for a travel credit card, you can use reward points to book accommodation, as well as other travel expenses, from flights to tours.

Most travel credit cards often waive foreign transaction fees and have free ATM withdrawals at international destinations.

Here are just some of the free travel we’ve had recently with our reward points

15. Shop Around On Flights

Flying from Hawaii to Los Angeles
Flying Hawaiian Air

The best way to save for affordable family vacations is to shop around before booking any flights.

Use Google Flights or comparison sites such as Skyscanner to find the most convenient flights, and then compare prices on different sites and by checking with the airline directly.

Use incognito mode on your browser so none of your browsing history, cookies or data is saved as sometimes sites will save this and increase the price if it shows you’ve returned to a page to book.

Video: Budget Family Travel Tips

The first five episodes of our travel podcast shares the various jobs we’ve had around the world and how we’ve made travel a priority for 22 years.

Watch this video below to see more money saving tips for family travel:

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Which tips are you going to take action on today so you can save more and have quality moments with your travel babies? Let us know in the comments.