George and I enjoyed traveling together long before we had kids. We’ve taken road trips on shoestring budgets across the United States and have also traveled abroad. When the quads were three, we took our first family vacation to the beach. Since then, we’ve taken a few trips each year. Seeing the kids explore new places brings us such joy! However, traveling with a family of six can be quite costly.
Today, guest blogger, Stephanie, from Military Travel Mama has tips for traveling on a budget with a family.
If you can save more money on trips, you can spend it doing more fun things. It’s difficult to cut costs when you travel, but it’s not impossible. What’s fundamentally necessary is a mindset composed of two parts. The first part should be preventative measures, the second part should be living beneath existing means. Both will be explored here.
First, plan your trip out well in advance. How far are you planning to go? If you’ve got a trip that will cost you around $100 in gas one way, and $100 the other, that’s $200 round trip. You’ll probably have at least four trips to the gas station. If you’ve got family, they’ll have to use the restroom, they’ll get hungry, and the young ones will ply you with puppy-dog eyes for candy.
If you get away for $30 in addition to gas for the whole family at four different convenience stores, that’s $320 on the whole trip. Meanwhile, for $20 or $30 spent at the local grocery store beforehand (where you know the specials, have coupons, and have backlogged some discounts) can get you better snacks for the whole trip. Spending $30 to save $120 leaves you sitting $90 better than you would have been otherwise.
You can enjoy the same kind of savings from hotels and restaurants if you are careful to look ahead. Figure out the most cost-effective hotels, and whether booking early will give you a discount. Determine if there are available continental breakfast options, and what sort of entertainment there is.
The kids will love a pool! Look at dining around town, and figure out an ironclad budget beforehand. For less than $500, you can spend a week somewhere comfortably—maybe even longer, if you’ve got relatives with whom you get along.
Living Beneath Existing Means
Your next tactic will be living beneath existing means. Beyond buying things in advance, you, your spouse, and your children should exercise an attitude which doesn’t expend available resources simply because they are there. Money won’t burn a hole in your pocket; you can keep it there for a while!
So maybe you want to have a vacation at some well-known resort, and taking out a loan could get you there. Sure, you’ll be an extra $5k in debt, but at least you had an experience, right? Or, you could book bottom-dollar last-minute flights to exotic locales seldom-traveled, have an off-the-hook adventure, and save thousands of dollars.
Or how about medical tourism? Oftentimes first world countries are encumbered by law and bureaucracy forcing medical institutions into an expensive corner. You might be able to travel somewhere like Taiwan, and save thousands of dollars on a necessary procedure that would have been two or three times as much locally–including travel, dining, and the cost of a hotel.
See The World Without Breaking The Bank
Vacations are absolutely necessary, even if you don’t go anywhere you’ve never been before. You’ve got to take some time off. Sometimes a staycation is the way to go: you spend next to nothing, and just enjoy your family. Regardless, you don’t have to spend as much money as the jet-setters in your circle of friends to enjoy similar vacations. In fact, you may enjoy them more as you know you’re saving money.
Live beneath your means. Have a preventative mindset, and think outside the box in order to take advantages of opportunities like medical tourism. Tactics like these will expand where you can travel while simultaneously saving you money.
Stop by Military Travel Mama for more travel tips!
P. S. Stay tuned to find out how we managed to fly with four five year olds to the east coast.