Category Archives: Travel

Flexible and Affordable Family Vacation Ideas for This Year

Many families are looking for getaway this year. We'll go over flexible, memorable, and affordable family vacation ideas!

Planning a Family Vacation in 2021

How do you plan for a year where you don't know exactly what to expect? 

I think that's been the unofficial theme this season.

We've been talking about how to create a budget that's flexible enough? How do you figure out your schedule? 

Now I'm hoping maybe a little cautiously optimistic, how do we plan some family fun, maybe some trips if possible?

Summer is coming up, people are getting vaccinated and while we’re not out of the woods just yet, I’m looking to travel more. 

I’m looking forward to going to the beach, whitewater raft, and maybe going for a longer trip. At the same time, I want to keep some flexibility in case things change. 

Which is why I’m so happy Karen Cordaway is here. She’s the author of the Everyday Bucket List. 

In this episode we’re going to look at:

  • How you can build and cross off your bucket list
  • Creating a flexible plan for travel this year
  • Affordable options vacation idea

Let’s get started! 

Resources to Save on Your Next Family Vacation

If you're looking to start planning and saving for your next family trip, here are a few handy resources to check out!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

Why You Need to Be Flexible with Your Family Vacations This Year

Karen Cordaway: I'm a planner, we've all had to have to learn how to be flexible because there's so much, we don't know. We could spend all this time planning and the whole thing changes.

So I think in a way, if you just kind of have an outline, you start throwing out ideas. Maybe we could do this. Maybe we could do that.

I understand when you're traveling, you really have to nail down dates and coordinate with your spouse or, you know, make sure that you can do what you want to do.

Unfortunately, we know that we're trying to get everybody vaccinated and I'm just reading today that just because someone's vaccinated, it doesn't give you full license to travel.

It actually takes a few weeks to kick in. It doesn't mean you can't pass the virus to someone.

So when we don't even really know enough about this and the experts are still finding these out, it's hard to plan. You just kind of have to go with the flow.

That can be very hard for some people. So if you do want to set something up, if there's any way you could put something in place that it's a place that you know will be available.

It's not this hard placed to arrange right? Because those are the ones, ‘Oh, if I don't get it at this time, Then I'm not going to be able to reserve it'.

We have to kind of loosen up in that way. I mean, I have kids and I didn't really have a lot of babysitters. We always had to be flexible. We always would just do things last minute.

If you can be open to that, if there's places that you can go, on the fly. And there's always last minute deals.

So if you're someone who can function that way and be okay with that, that could work.

Like I said, once we're following the experts, cause I'm never going to tell someone to do something they're not supposed to do. I'm on that side of being super safe.

Finding Great Local Spots for Day Trips

Elle Martinez: Yeah. That's been us. We do love to travel, but last year we just stayed put.

What we ended up doing is if we left the house, we did day trips like hikes to parks. So there's plenty of space for outdoors, really embraced parks last year, and that was helpful.

It is a challenge, especially when we're talking about parents with kids, because not only do you have your work schedule that you have to figure out it's school schedules, which depending on whatever state you're in, it can be completely different each quarter.

One thing that parents should do is have different plans and figuring out, okay, if this is going to work, then maybe we'll do this. But if this doesn't happen, then maybe we need to have this as a backup.

For those that haven't heard the previous episode with Karen, she's the author of the everyday bucket list.

I love your approach with creating a plan and having just fun with experiences. It doesn't have to be these huge dramatic things where you're traveling across the world, though it could include that, but you're making these special moments throughout the year with your family.

I was curious how would you approach travel? Like how are you approaching travel with your own thing?

Karen Cordaway: Right now we're staying very close by and I live in a small state. So you would think, Oh, well, that's easy to see everything, but it's really not. Because right now we're just doing weekends and, you know depending on weather and schedules, it does things don't always happen.

So we're just really trying to explore locally and we've been pleasantly surprised.

I mean, Connecticut has a lot of really cool towns. Westport, Connecticut. We went to this place called Terrain, which is a garden center, a very upscale, fancy garden center. They have a beautiful store.

They sell stationary and all these different things for people who like to entertain, but they also have this place where you can have brunch. It's just so beautiful.

See, I'm someone who appreciates the experience of a restaurant or just being in a store or whatever, that kind of experience to try something new.

My husband and I, even though it was an impromptu thing, and we didn't know, we were supposed to make reservations because you have to for this place. Yeah. So we didn't know, but I just always try to keep a positive attitude.

I'm like, Oh, we drove all this way, but you could get takeout so it worked out fine because we went all around the store.

We looked at all these fancy pumpkin's if this was in the fall.

Elle Martinez: Yeah.

Karen Cordaway: It's funny because I used to joke that when I would see Martha Stewart's magazine back when she was like the only DIY kind of person, we'd have all these fancy squash and pumpkins, and I'm like, where do you get these kinds of pumpkins? Yeah. And this is where you get them!

What's funny is she like lives around there. I'm like, this is from Martha Stewart gets this stuff.

So there are a lot of interesting things if you really take time to dig a little you know, there are interesting towns or there's something special about your area that there's history worth exploring too.

You can do it locally. Those are just a few things, but because it's winter and I'm not a winter person-

Elle Martinez: [But you're in] Connecticut, what? That's like a winter.

Karen Cordaway: Nope. Well, you know, it's funny. A lot of people are snowbirds. You see a lot of Florida license plates, you know, a lot of people split time and I always thought about doing that.

You know, I'm secretly looking for my new place to live when I go travel.

https://www.simplifyandenjoy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Finding-Hidden-Gems-Around-Your-State.mp4

Staycation and Indoor Activities for Your Family

Karen Cordaway: That's what I'm looking for outside of having fun, but if you're okay with it, indoors for now.

We're about to do Masterclass. And originally I thought, ‘Oh, $180, right?', but it's for a year.

And when you see all of the people on there, it's amazing. Like for standup stand-up comedy, they have Steve Martin. There's Steph Curry for basketball.

Santana for the guitar. They have all these lessons and I believe Issa Rae. I think that –

Elle Martinez: -was a new one. I have a membership too. I love it.

They had like Malcolm Gladwell for writing and there's a gardener there, Finley I think it was his last name. Really helpful stuff. Love it.

Karen Cordaway: Yeah. So it's like, you're either drawn in by the celeb, their topic, like Robin Roberts. She teaches about communication.

That's like the most important thing. When you think about it.

So you can like set up like a class, like little kids to me, we are easy to talk into things. They get excited about anything.

Create a Family Camp

After you learn the lesson, maybe you go outside and you shoot hoops and try to do, implement whatever it is that you're taught.

Karen Cordaway: So if you want to ramp it up a little, like maybe everybody wears their favorite basketball. T-shirt, you know, you try to make it like camp and yeah.

Think of it, like summer camp, you have a day of sports. You have a day of crafts, you have a day of this. Like if you kind of pump it up for kids and they get excited, it kind of makes everybody excited.

That's just how I feel. Yeah. Even, even to like, Whenever we would go on vacation and you see people that are wearing matching t-shirts, whether it's just for identification purposes, like we're all wearing red.

You know, my kid is wearing red today. It's like, something is more exciting when you buy t-shirts for it.

I know that sounds so goofy, but because we have to be creative, if this is your little staycation or your weekend, you know, put a little more effort into it, you know?

Little kids love that kind of stuff. Like when you take it to another level or if you're really dramatic, you could get them excited about almost anything.

Summer Vacation Idea: RVing as a Family

Karen Cordaway: I was reading, okay, this is AARP cause people who are retired because they're the ones who are having to come up with a lot of ideas too. They're in that age group where they have to be even more careful.

A lot of people are looking into RVs. They even have all these different types of lingo for docking.

They'll say like mooch docking, that's where you go in your friend's driveway and you use their electricity, or you could do it's called I think it's called crack docking and I'm like, wait a minute, What is this about?

And Cracker barrel will allow you to park there. There's Walmart, and it's like, yeah, you just have to be comfortable with that.

If you're open-minded or if you're used to that lifestyle, that could be a good money-saving tip

Elle Martinez: Yeah, it definitely also forces you to bond.

I was talking to what was it? Toni Husbands from Debt Free Divas. And she went RVing last year. That's what they did.

I forgot the campgrounds. She's in Chicago, but it was an experience, you know, you have the kids and you're all in this space. A great way to bond and still, keep socially distant.

Karen Cordaway: Right. So you just have to look into, I don't want to be cleaning out a bathroom. I can't say that part would be fun for me.

It's all about your comfort level and, and what is considered safe. Like if you have a relative in another state, you know I feel like if they don't accept money for the electricity or, you know, I'm not a moocher.

Yeah. But you know, buy them a couple of dinners or whatever, whatever it might be because we can be outside. If you're in a state where the weather is decent.

Starting (or Restarting) New Hobbies

Karen Cordaway: Definitely take up those hobbies, like biking and hiking and skateboarding and trying different things because now is the time to do that.

When you're all grown up, you have limited time when you have a job, I mean, you can explore on some level, but not the way you can as a kid, you know?

Have the fun of that through your kids, you have an excuse to try to skateboard.

Elle Martinez: I love these ideas, Karen for families. One thing we have is we're hoping by October to be able to do like maybe what we consider a regular travel, but that might not happen.

Any ideas or, you know, for families to kind of at least get excited, planning and saving?

Our idea is if three months before it doesn't look like it's going to happen, we can always roll it over for 2022, move that money for savings.

I need tips for like a family that's planning on taking a family trip at some point.

Karen Cordaway: Well, like I said, I would look into campgrounds places where you could hike.

Like I said, have a default plan. So when you're planning, you don't want to be so deflated if that trip doesn't work out. Have your plan B in place.

I wrote a post about Boston and yeah, I'm still, I did the freedom trail. I didn't really know that it was like this very informal mapped out thing.

I thought if I was going to sign up on a tour, it was going to be this official thing. It was going to be its own separate section.

You're really just walking through Boston and it's like this line that you're following. So if you read up a little bit about something so there's context and then try to do simple things like that.

I watch a lot of YouTube because even with the rides, when we used to go to Disney, you can preview and see, Oh, well we like this area, this looks like fun because there are things you could do outside.

I mean, there's street art in different places, anything where you can kind of like make your own little DIY tour.

If something doesn't work out, I would definitely just still keep researching and you can always listen to the everyday bucket-list podcast because those are the ideas that I give.

Elle Martinez: I know I was excited about that cause I was looking at Miranda, I've downloaded that. I'm hoping to listen to it. If not this afternoon, then tomorrow Yellowstone and some other awesome places around in her part of the country.

Besides the podcast, which I think is fantastic, you know, with ideas from people all around I'd love your book.

I think it's like one of those, it was good before, but I think even now with times like this, this is something to definitely pick up and for families to kind of go through, which is the everyday bucket list.

Karen Cordaway: Thank you so much. See, I try to encourage people as much as I'm someone who doesn't like to have too many books.

This is a book I believe it's better as a physical book, because then you have the worksheets right in there. You can go back to it.

For myself, I'm very concrete. That's just my little suggestion because. It's a short book too. And I purposely made it short because I just want people to get the, the process down and really learn how to prioritize.

Like in there, I even have an acronym like FILL, you know, you want to fill your bucket list with these ideas.

So much of it is having everything in advance.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. So Karen, I know we just scratched the surface. There's like so many ways we can go down the rabbit hole.

It's travel and planning, but if anyone's listening and they want to reach out to you learn more about the podcast and the book, what's the best way they can do that?

Karen Cordaway: Well, you can type in the everyday bucket-list podcasts. So you will find me, on iTunes, Stitcher, wherever. There are podcasts I'm on in most places.

Making Our Family Vacation and Trip Plans for This Year

I enjoyed speaking with Karen. Just like we talked about since we spoke, things did shift in the last month and half. 

Vaccinations have opened up to pretty much all adults as far as I know. We schedul;e and got both our shots. 

States have been opening up as well. Here in North Carolina, we’ve had some restrictions lifted and more businesses are closer to full capacity. 

That doesn’t mean things are back to normal; based on numbers, things could shift again. 

So here’s how we’re balancing planning and playing by ear. 

First we’ve been continuing to save. Vacations and trips are baked into our budgets. Saving ahead of time has been wonderful for us. I personally prefer knowing that after we’re done with a trip, that’s it. No worrying about paying it off later. 

While we use credit cards for reservations, we pay the balance off. 

Of course that money saved has to come from somewhere. As I’ve been sharing here on the podcast and on the site, we’ve paid off our non-mortgage debt. No credit card, car loan, or student loan payments. 

Instead we use that money we had been paying to hit our goals like paying the house off early, saving for vacations, giving, and investing for retirement. 

Creating our plan and then automating our finances has been a game changer for us. 

I have episodes, posts, and other resources on the exact details on how we did it – it wasn’t overnight. 

Second, we looked for trips where we could still have some space. The great thing about living in North Carolina is that there are plenty of options. 

Even when things were more restricted, we could do day trips and hikes around the parks and greenways. Besides the gas we paid, they were also free. 

For example, the art museum has some pieces you can walk around and explore outside and it connects to the greenway.  

It’s been one way we’ve stayed connected with friends while maintaining social distancing. 

Two trips we’re planning and reserving now are:

  • Beach
  • Mountains

They’re both great options for the summer. With the beach, we’re looking at skipping the usual tourist spots. 

This week I’m hunting for AirBnbs in Asheville and I’m looking at some activities like whitewater rafting and ziplining. 

As the fall and beyond, we’re keeping an eye on things. If things look good, we’ll firm up our plans around July. 

Taking it bit by bit is the way we’re going to tackle things this year! 

Key Takeaways

Before we wrap up, there are a few key takeaways I want to share with you as I was preparing this episode.

  • Have a vacation budget. I’m a big fan of including what matters to you into your budget. Trips for us are not just about escaping, but connecting. Having the budget is really handy for a few reasons. One, you can move quickly on any great deals you find. Two, you’re doing this debt free so when the trip is over you’re not worried about paying off the card. Three, if we don’t happen to use that money – like what happened last year, we can roll that into the next year or use it for some other goal. 
  • Think green. Add parks- whether’s national, state, local – to your rotation of destinations this year. These can be memorable and affordable trips for your family while still staying relatively safe. This could be an opportunity for your family to try something new. 
  • Be flexible. Last year really hammered in that there were things outside of our control. I’m cautiously optimistic that things will move forward, but I don’t know. There may be smaller lock downs or increased restrictions on the future in certain areas based on the numbers. To cope with that, we’re taking Karen’s advice and have some backup trips. As I’m making travel plans, I’m also being a bit flexible with dates to get some great deals. And I’m also checking reservations to make sure they have reasonable cancellation policies.  

Maybe because we’ve been staying more local that I’m really excited about this, but I'm so ready to travel more.

If you want to discuss this more – ask questions, swap ideas, and maybe get a debt-free strategy set up – don’t forget to join us in the Thriving Families group on Facebook.

Our goal is to help one another out. Hope to see you there!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
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Music Credit

Our theme song is from Staircases. Additional music by various artists from Audiio.

How to Have a Safer Summer Family Getaway

For most families, the school year is over and after being home for months, there’s this desire to get out and explore. However, with coronavirus cases growing, many families are wondering, can we have a safe summer getaway? Today we'll see how!

Summer Break (without Travel?)

We’re in a strange season. Usually, summer is when families on vacation, but travel is tricky (to put it mildly).

Different parts of this country are being hit to varying degrees. We have states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, and South Carolina where the cases are leaping up and they’re hitting new records. You also have some states where the numbers are fairly steady like Virginia and Connecticut.

We also have different restrictions in place depending on where you are.  Some states are even reversing their openings. 

So the questions become – is there a safe way to have a family trip? Or are we stuck at some for another season? 

We’re going to look at a few ways you can have a family getaway – more local for sure- as well as making a staycation truly fun. 

In this episode, we’ll get into:

  • Return of the  Family Road Trips, Weekend Getaways, and Day Trips
  • Travel tips to minimize your risk while you’re away from home
  • The joys of a staycation Yes, you can stay put and enjoy yourself. (At least that’s what my husband Rob thinks. )

Let’s get started!

Travel Tips for Family Vacations

Want to enjoy a great family getaway this summer? Here are some resources to help!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union. If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!

They not only have fantastic customer service but they also have competitive rates on their checking and savings accounts!

The Return of Road Trips

Road trips are making a comeback and they've always been a popular frugal option if you're going nearby. But I think this year they are definitely taking off because we are trying to stay more local and regional, which we'll discuss why in a few minutes.

From what I've noticed, there are three main types of trips that families are taking.

Family Visits

The first one, our family visits. Yep. We haven't seen our loved ones in person. So visiting our relatives is high on many people's to do list.

We recently had my mother and brother-in-law over and it was a fantastic trip. They came down, it was a low key stay, but the girls really enjoyed seeing them in person and enjoy one another's company.

Weekend Getaways

Second type of trip are the weekend getaways, but Hey, now that all these days are a blur weekday getaways work as well. And these are short trips, but they're in local areas, usually just a few hours away from where you are.

It could be going to the beach or to the mountains, just kind of having a change of scenery.

Day Trips

And then the last one is day trips. And day trips can be wonderful, precisely because they are short.

You can leave in the morning, enjoy someplace else, and then come back and stay in your own bed.

Where Should We Travel This Summer?

In terms of destinations, I think parks are going to be the top spot to go. There are great places to connect and still maintain social distance.

Going for a beach trip can be a way to unplug and recharge, but you want to be mindful of the locality. Is it a tourist spot? Then you might want to pass.

This also may be a wonderful season to go and visit the mountains. Get a cabin away from it all and relax.

6 Tips for a Safer Family Vacation

Now the two key things to remember wherever you decide to go on your trip.

Be prepared. Restrictions will vary, not just state to state, but by County or the city level at times.

Be flexible. Restrictions have been changing. We have some States opening up some pausing and then some pulling back. So you want to make sure. That you're flexible enough that you can adjust where you're staying at.

You also want to be flexible because there's going to be a little bit more work when it comes to actually taking your trip.

Now, while on the road, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Try to keep your trip semi-local. See if you can choose a spot that you can get to and come back with one tank of gas.
  • Shop and pack your groceries beforehand. Again, we're trying to keep these getaways and trips safe as possible and minimize your family's risk and the impact you have on whatever community you go ahead and visit.
  • Bring masks and some backups, including disposable gloves. Those are going to be important. when you're pumping gas, you want to use those disposable gloves.
  • As always, washing your hands regularly is key. I know bathroom breaks are inevitable. But if you are going to make those rest stops, minimize them for only necessities.

So I hope these tips help you to have a safer family getaway and enjoy your summer.

Staycations: Explore Your Town

Ah, staycations. People have very strong feelings about that. And I think part of it is they feel that first half's the staying means simply staying at home, but that doesn't have to be the case.

In fact, staycations can be great for several reasons.

If you have a family member who has an underlying medical condition, it's understandable that you want to stay put for now.

Also we have little ones. Now they're eight and five, which is an incredibly fun age. However, if they were in their toddler phase, now, I honestly would choose to stay home, to reduce the stress factor.

And let's not forget how budget-friendly a staycation can be, but staying at home doesn't mean being bored.

Now for our anniversaries, we usually go and take a small trip or little getaway together. But a few years ago we did a staycation. I was eight months pregnant at the time. I was not really wanting to go on a trip.

So we did one, but instead of just staying at home, we decided to make it exciting by choosing something that we enjoyed, which was going on lunch dates.

Like many couples. We had a situation where for years we had this list of restaurants we wanted to try out, but the list kept growing.

So during this week, what we did is we picked our favorite spots, the ones we really wanted to try out, and all through the week we went on those dates. And it was so much fun.

So if you're thinking of a staycation, try thinking of that way, what is that lens or that thing that you enjoy about vacations that you want to emphasize while you're here earlier this year as a contributor for the family and finance column over at mince blog.

I wrote about family activities that you can do at home. And some were geared for families looking for outdoor fun while others could be done inside.

You can see all 30 ideas on Mint, but I want to highlight just four, so you can see the different ways that you can play around with this staycation.

  • Depending on the city or town that you live in, you don't have to do a day trip, or we can get away to enjoy the great outdoors while minding social distancing rules. You can enjoy playing outside with the kids, having a picnic or doing an outdoor activity like tennis. And if you're looking for an indoor friendly option for those days where you can't get outside, maybe it's raining. You can go on virtual tours around the world. There are field trips like Yellowstone or San Diego zoo, or the aquariums around the country and world that you can try out and have fun with the kids.
  • Something we've been doing more often is family game nights. Whether you prefer going with card games, board, video games, just choose an evening as your go-to night for family games. If you're looking for a team-based game, Forbidden Island is a lot of fun with the kids. And you can use video options like Jackbox to pull in some other families and have a really great game night. You can host the game and then people can log in and use their own phones or tablets or other devices to play along as well.
  • If you have a good space, maybe in the neighborhood or the yard, a scavenger or treasure hunt can be an absolute blast. You can leave some interesting clues to keep them challenged while they go find the treasure.
  • Finally, if you've been getting a lot of deliveries, chances are you have plenty of boxes around the house. This is a very low-cost idea, but believe it or not building a cardboard, Fort is incredibly fun for the kids. And for you. Not only do you have to put it together, but if you are artistically talented, you have a lot of fun painting it. And if you want to minimize the mess, keep it all outside.

So, those are just a few ideas that you can use for your own staycations, but you can pick each day to have a different theme or activity to keep it fun.

You are still getting a break out of the routine, but still staying safe.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast!

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Spotify, or Apple.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Simple Family Travel Tips and Tricks

Today we’re digging into how to take an awesome and cheap family getaway!

Saving Big on Your Next Family Trip

We all need to decompress, connect as a family, and have a good time.

Family getaways and vacations can wonderful ways to do that, but when you have young kids, there are challenges and a lot of moving parts.

  • Are you doing a road trip or taking a plane?
  • Where can you go where you’re all able to have a good time?
  • How do you get off the touristy path and discover what makes that place unique and special?
  • How do you find time and space to have some date nights where it’s just the two of you?
  • How can we sleep in and relax when the kids around?

And of course, how do you keep it affordable?

It took us some time, but we’ve found a rhythm that’s helped make our family trips fun and memorable.

I'm happy to have Priscilla Awkard from Coastal to share her advice on finding great deals with travel!

In this episode we’re going to get into:

  • how to plan and pay for your trip
  • handy tools and tips to help you save serious cash and still have an incredible time
  • Ways to enjoy travel when you have little ones

Let's get started!

Resources for Affordable Family Vacations

Looking for ways to save on your next family getaway? Here are some fantastic resources to check out:

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today!

They also have helpful resources like How Coastal Can Help You Build A Travel Budget. Coastal's mission is to help you live better by banking better!

How to Plan and Pay Ahead For Your Trip

When it was just the two of us, we had some fantastic last-minute trips. 

But now as parents of two kids 7 and under, if we want to get away and really enjoy the vacation, prep is key. 

Not only to plan key parts of the trip, but also the budget. 

I know, it’s not even fun to say, but having a budget to stick to is actually a wonderful way to keep stress levels low. 

Wouldn’t like to be able to have saved and paid for your trip before you leave? 

Typical expenses for trips can include: 

  • Lodging (Hotel, Bed & Breakfast, Hostel, etc)
  • Transportation (Plane, Train, Car, or Bus)
  • Food (Overestimate with this)
  • Local Activities (Festivals, Attractions, Souvenirs, etc)

Now it’s going to vary greatly based on where you’re going and how you’re getting there, but if you’re looking for some ballpark figures, here’s what I found:

The average cost of a vacation is $4,580 for a family of 4 or just over $1,100/person.

Between you and me, we have never paid $1k per person for a trip. Ours is more the $500-$2k range when you factor in all the costs. 

The higher range is for plane travel for all four of us and the lower range is when we do trips nearby grandparents where the kids spend a few days with them. 

And a quick note: This is we pay out of pocket.  We don’t do travel hacking with points from credit cards. 

If you are interested in that, I have some interviews with families who do that I’ll include in the show notes. 

But let’s talk a second about vacation costs and fitting that into your budget. 

Save Ahead For Family Vacations

Since we take trips every year, we include it in our budget. So every month, there’s a transfer into our general savings. 

And when we get closer to the trip we can go ahead pull that money out and make reservations. 

Let’s use the average example and we’ll our personal one. 

If your family budget for a trip is $4500, then you’re looking at $375/month. If you’re shooting for $2,000 then that drops down to $167/month. 

Besides keeping your trip debt free (which to me makes it more relaxing) stashing that money away will allow you to take advantage of deals as they come up instead of trying to find a deal closer to your trip date. 

And that ties into a tip that’s helped us save a ton of money – being flexible with our dates. 

Just like many families, we’re not completely flexible. We have to work around school and work schedules, but we’re not pinned down too much. 

If we’re looking at a fall trip – we have a three-week window to choose flights or schedule hotel reservations. 

When you leave and return can have mean a big difference with what you pay. 

So let’s say I’m looking at a flight from RDU to Orlando in October. 

By being flexible with the dates I can go from paying $209 for a RT ticket to $117. With a family of four, that’s $368 saved. 

Here are some handy apps for traveling:

They allow you to see what they prices currently are with several major airlines and you can set alerts to keep you notified of price changes. 

Is It Better to Go with a Vacation Package for Our Trip?

Some trips are already bundled like cruises or those all-inclusive packages at Beaches and similar resorts. 

And that’s something you have to decide on – going for the bundle deal or building it up piece by piece. 

And when I search I will explore both options. Cost is definitely a factor, but honestly, if there’s only a small difference between the two, it can be less stress to go with a bundle deal. 

Having one reservation to track is nice when you have little ones in tow.

Besides the big sites like Priceline or Trivago, we’ve found some really good deals with hotels.com and Hipmunk. 

Ways to Enjoy Travel with Kids

Traveling with kids can have its own challenges, especially when you have a flight, but there are ways you can make things more manageable at the airport. 

Here are some things that have made a tremendous difference: 

  1. Check baby equipment. Most airlines will check baby seats at no cost. You can use the stroller to travel through the airport and then check it at the gate on the way onto the plane.
  2. Travel during Nap-time. Sometimes those early or late flights are perfect for kids because they’ll be sleeping for most of it. 
  3. Pack light. Keep it simple with your packing. Packing too much will only add to the stress.
  4. Take Advantage of Early Boarding. We’re big fans of Southwest and their early boarding. Sounds small, but being able to get a seat for your kids and settle them in is fantastic.  
  5. Pack Snacks and Entertainment. Hungry kids are angry kids so pack some snacks. Delays happen and you don’t want to be stuck with a stressed-out toddler. Another easy tip is packing a few coloring /activity books and loading your tablet with some apps and shows. 

Should We Go with a Hotel or AirBnb?

Where you stay during your vacation can either cost you a ton or save you some serious cash. 

Should you get a hotel room or are you better off getting a place through a site like Airbnb or HomeAway

We’ve done both.

For us, what we love about renting an entire place is not only the kitchen but having space for the kids to run around in. Sometimes we want to sleep in and having a separate room can make the trip much more relaxing. 

We’ve also had incredible hosts who told us about local spots, allowing us to skip the tourist traps and actually enjoy a city or town’s special charm. 

That doesn’t mean skipping out on hotels. We’ve had some good experiences with them as well. 

But those fancier hotels are always the best deal if you have kids in tow. 

Those so-called budget hotels can be a money saver for your vacation.  Some free extras can include breakfast, wifi, parking, and airport shuttle.

So when you’re comparing prices, factor those in and make sure you’re getting the best deal for your family. 

I hope these sites and tips help you save big on your next trip. 

If you have a favorite app, please let me know! We have a free facebook group – Thriving Families- where we swap ideas and encourage one another towards our own journeys to financial freedom and independence. 

More Travel Tips

Before we wrap up I want to share a few more travel tips. My guest today is Priscilla Awkard from our sponsor Coastal CU.

She’s the VP of the Teller Center.

And she enjoys traveling, does some work as a travel agent so I was happy we could chat about some tips she had about setting up trips as well as more ideas on how you can have a fun time traveling with your kids.

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Music Credit

Like the music in this episode? Music is by Lee Rosevere and Music for Makers.