Ways To Save On Family Travel: Expert Tips And Tricks

by | Sep 3, 2023 | Travel Tips For All Ages

Ways to save on family travel can seem elusive, but with a little bit of planning and creativity, you can make your next family vacation affordable without sacrificing the fun. As someone who loves to travel with my family, I've learned a few tricks over the years that have helped us save money while still enjoying all the sights and experiences of our destination.

One of the most effective ways to save on family travel is to be flexible with your travel dates. By avoiding peak travel periods and traveling during off-peak times, you can often save a significant amount on flights, accommodations, and activities. Additionally, booking your flights and accommodations well in advance can help you secure better deals and avoid last-minute price hikes. Another strategy is to consider alternative accommodations, such as vacation rentals or home exchanges, which can be more cost-effective than traditional hotels.

Planning Your Family Vacation

Planning a family vacation can be both exciting and stressful. As someone who has planned several family vacations, I have learned that proper planning can save you a lot of money. In this section, I will share some tips on how to plan your family vacation on a budget.

Budgeting for Travel

The first step in planning your family vacation is to set a budget. Determine how much you can afford to spend on travel, accommodation, food, and activities. Be realistic and don't forget to include unexpected expenses. Once you have a budget in mind, stick to it.

To help you stay within your budget, consider using a travel budget planner. There are many free templates available online that can help you keep track of your expenses.

Booking Early

Booking your family vacation early can save you a lot of money. Many airlines and hotels offer early booking discounts. If you know when and where you want to go, start looking for deals as soon as possible.

Another benefit of booking early is that you have more options to choose from. Popular destinations and hotels tend to fill up quickly, so it's best to book early to avoid disappointment.

Off-Season Travel

Traveling during the off-season can save you a lot of money. Prices for flights, accommodation, and activities are usually lower during the off-season. Plus, you'll avoid the crowds and long lines that come with peak season travel.

To find the best deals, do some research on the destination you want to visit. Look for the off-season and plan your trip accordingly. Keep in mind that the off-season may not be the best time to visit certain destinations, so do your research carefully.

Using Travel Agents

Using a travel agent can save you time and money. Travel agents have access to exclusive deals and discounts that are not available to the general public. They can also help you plan your trip and make sure you get the best value for your money.

When choosing a travel agent, make sure to do your research. Look for agents who specialize in family travel and have experience planning trips to your destination of choice. Don't be afraid to ask for references and check online reviews before making a decision.

In conclusion, planning your family vacation on a budget requires careful planning and research. By budgeting for travel, booking early, traveling during the off-season, and using a travel agent, you can save money and have a stress-free vacation.

Saving on Transportation

When it comes to family travel, transportation costs can really add up. But with a little bit of planning and some smart strategies, you can save a lot of money on getting from point A to point B. Here are some tips for saving on transportation:

Finding Flight Deals

One of the biggest expenses when it comes to family travel is airfare. But there are ways to find deals and save money. Here are some strategies:

  • Use flight aggregator websites like Kayak, Google Flights, and Skyscanner to compare prices across multiple airlines.
  • Be flexible with your travel dates. Flying on weekdays instead of weekends can often be cheaper.
  • Book your flights early. The earlier you book, the more likely you are to find a good deal.
  • Consider flying into a nearby airport instead of your final destination. Sometimes this can be cheaper, especially if you're renting a car anyway.

Using Points and Miles

If you're a frequent flyer or credit card user, you may be able to use points and miles to save money on flights. Here are some tips:

  • Sign up for airline rewards programs and credit cards that offer points and miles.
  • Use a travel rewards credit card for everyday purchases to earn points faster.
  • Be flexible with your travel dates and destinations. Sometimes it's easier to find award seats if you're not locked into specific dates or locations.

Road Trip Strategies

If you're planning a road trip, there are ways to save money on gas and other expenses. Here are some tips:

  • Plan your route carefully to avoid unnecessary detours and backtracking.
  • Use gas price aggregator websites like GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas stations along your route.
  • Pack snacks and drinks instead of stopping at convenience stores and fast food restaurants.
  • Consider renting a fuel-efficient car if you don't have one.

Avoiding Baggage Fees

Baggage fees can add up quickly, especially if you're traveling with a family. Here are some tips for avoiding them:

  • Pack light and try to fit everything into carry-on bags.
  • Check the baggage policy for your airline before you book your flight. Some airlines charge extra for checked bags, while others include them in the ticket price.
  • Use a luggage scale to make sure your bags meet the weight limit. Overweight bags can incur extra fees.

By following these tips, you can save a lot of money on transportation and make your family travel more affordable.

Accommodation Options

When it comes to family travel, accommodation can be a significant expense. However, there are several ways to save money without sacrificing comfort or convenience. In this section, I will explore some of the best accommodation options for families and how to save money on them.

Hotels vs Vacation Homes

Hotels are a popular choice for families because they offer a range of amenities, including pools, restaurants, and room service. However, they can be expensive, especially if you need multiple rooms. Vacation homes, on the other hand, offer more space and privacy, as well as the ability to cook your meals and do laundry. They are often cheaper than hotels, especially for longer stays.

Booking with Airbnb and Vrbo

Airbnb and Vrbo are popular vacation rental platforms that allow you to rent a home or apartment directly from the owner. They offer a wide range of options, from budget-friendly to luxury, and are often cheaper than hotels. Plus, you can save money on food by cooking your meals in the rental's kitchen. However, be aware that some cities have restrictions on short-term rentals, so be sure to check local regulations before booking.

Using Hotel Points

If you're loyal to a particular hotel chain, using their loyalty program can be an excellent way to save money on accommodation. Many hotels offer free nights or upgrades for members, and you can earn points by booking through their website or using their credit card. However, be sure to compare prices before booking to ensure you're getting the best deal.

City Center vs Outskirts

Staying in the city center can be convenient, but it's often more expensive than staying in the outskirts. If you're willing to travel a bit, you can often find cheaper accommodation outside the city center. Plus, you'll get to experience a different side of the city and may discover hidden gems that tourists often miss.

In summary, there are several accommodation options for families, from hotels to vacation homes. By comparing prices, using loyalty programs, and considering location, you can save money on your next family vacation.

Food and Meals

When it comes to family travel, food and meals can quickly become a significant expense. However, there are several ways to save money without sacrificing quality or variety. Here are some tips and tricks that I use to keep food costs under control while traveling with my family.

Cooking While Traveling

One of the most effective ways to save money on meals is to cook your own food. If you're staying in a hotel or Airbnb with a kitchen, take advantage of it. Even if you don't have a full kitchen, you can still prepare simple meals with just a microwave and a mini-fridge. Here are some ideas:

  • Breakfast: oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, toast, or eggs
  • Lunch: sandwiches, salads, or leftovers from dinner
  • Dinner: pasta, rice, stir-fry, or grilled meat and vegetables

Cooking your own meals also gives you more control over the ingredients, which can be especially important if you have dietary restrictions or picky eaters in your family.

Packing Snacks

Another way to save money on food is to pack your own snacks. This is especially useful for long car rides or flights, where food options may be limited or expensive. Here are some snacks that travel well:

  • Fresh fruit: apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, etc.
  • Dried fruit: raisins, apricots, mango, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Granola bars, energy bars, or protein bars
  • Crackers, pretzels, or rice cakes
  • Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, or sliced cucumbers

Packing snacks not only saves money but also helps you avoid the temptation of buying expensive and unhealthy snacks on the go.

Grocery Shopping

Finally, consider doing some grocery shopping during your trip. This is especially useful if you're staying in a place with a kitchen or if you're planning a picnic or a day trip. Here are some tips for grocery shopping:

  • Check local supermarkets or farmers' markets for fresh and affordable produce.
  • Look for sales and discounts on staple items such as bread, milk, and eggs.
  • Buy in bulk if it makes sense for your family size and length of stay.
  • Don't forget to bring reusable bags and containers to reduce waste.

Grocery shopping can be a fun and educational activity for the whole family, and it can also help you save money on food and meals during your travels.

In summary, cooking your own meals, packing snacks, and grocery shopping are all effective ways to save money on food and meals while traveling with your family. By planning ahead and being mindful of your options, you can enjoy delicious and nutritious meals without breaking the bank.

Maximizing Savings

When it comes to family travel, saving money is always a top priority. Over the years, I have found several ways to maximize my savings and stretch my travel budget. Here are some tips that have worked well for me:

Using Travel Apps

One of the easiest ways to save on family travel is by using travel apps. Apps like Kayak and Expedia allow me to compare prices for flights, hotels, and rental cars all in one place. I can also set up price alerts to notify me when prices drop, which has saved me hundreds of dollars on flights. Another app I like to use is GasBuddy, which helps me find the cheapest gas prices along my route.

Signing Up for Newsletters

Signing up for newsletters from airlines, hotels, and travel companies can also be a great way to save money. These newsletters often include exclusive deals and discounts that are not available to the general public. I like to follow my favorite airlines and hotels on Facebook as well, as they often post flash sales and other promotions on their social media pages.

Leveraging Credit Cards

Credit cards can be a powerful tool for saving money on family travel. Many credit cards offer rewards programs that allow me to earn points or miles for every dollar I spend. I can then redeem these points for free flights, hotel stays, and other travel expenses. Some credit cards also offer perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, and airport lounge access, which can save me money and make my travel experience more comfortable.

Membership Discounts

Finally, I always look for membership discounts when planning my family travel. AAA and AARP offer discounts on hotels, rental cars, and other travel expenses. Marriott Bonvoy also offers discounts and exclusive rates for members. I also like to check with my employer or professional organizations I belong to, as they may offer discounts on travel expenses as well.

By using travel apps, signing up for newsletters, leveraging credit cards, and taking advantage of membership discounts, I have been able to save a significant amount of money on family travel.

Unique Travel Experiences

When it comes to family travel, there are plenty of unique experiences to be had. From exploring national parks to visiting Disney World, there's something for everyone. Here are some of my favorite unique travel experiences for families:

Exploring National Parks

National parks offer a unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the United States. With over 60 national parks to choose from, there's no shortage of options. Some of my favorites include Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. Many national parks offer guided tours and educational programs for children, making it a great learning experience for the whole family.

Visiting Disney World

Disney World is a classic family vacation destination, and for good reason. With four theme parks, two water parks, and endless entertainment options, there's something for everyone. Plus, Disney offers a variety of accommodations to fit any budget, from budget-friendly hotels to luxury resorts.

Cultural Experiences

Traveling is a great way to expose children to different cultures and ways of life. Whether it's exploring a new city or visiting a foreign country, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about different cultures. Some of my favorite cultural experiences include visiting museums, trying new foods, and attending local festivals.


Sometimes, the best travel experiences can be found in your own backyard. Staycations are a great way to explore your local area and save money on travel expenses. Visit local attractions, try new restaurants, and take advantage of any special events happening in your area. It's a great way to have a fun and relaxing vacation without breaking the bank.

Overall, there are plenty of unique travel experiences to be had for families. Whether you're exploring national parks or trying new foods, there's something for everyone, and many ways to save on family travel. So pack your bags and get ready for an adventure!