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.

Support the Podcast!

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Music Credit

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

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