How to Plan a Great Family Vacation on a Budget

When was the last time you took your kids on a family vacation? If finances are tight, this may seem like an impossible venture.

However, family vacations are shown to make kids happier and benefit their brain development. Plus, it’s important for you and your spouse to cut loose and relax.

The good news is that a vacation doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. There are plenty of ways you can plan a family vacation on the cheap.

Do you want to know more? Keep reading to learn our tips for planning a great budget vacation for your family.

Pick the Right Location

The location is arguably the most important factor when planning a budget vacation. You’ll be hard pressed to plan a vacation on the cheap if you want to go to Paris or Australia–unless, of course, you plan to go backpacking and stay in hostels.

Luckily, there are tons of destinations right here in America that are fun for the whole family. Hit a beach for a constant source of free fun or head to one of America’s National Parks to let the kids enjoy some nature.

If you have your heart set on traveling abroad, focus on budget locations, like Central America and South East Asia.

Travel During Shoulder Season

Of course, you’ll want to experience the best weather when you go on vacation. You’ll just be wasting your money if it rains the entire time or is too cold to do anything. But that doesn’t mean you have to pay the inflated prices of traveling during high season.

Many locations have what’s called a shoulder season. This is the time between high and low season when the weather is still favorable but there aren’t as many crowds.

Not only can you enjoy your vacation more with fewer crowds, but you’ll find prices can be substantially cheaper during this time.


If you’re planning on vacationing in an area where you could drive, do it!

Flying as a family is expensive. Not only are the tickets pricey, but you’ll have to pay to check bags. When you’re traveling with kids, you’ll probably want to pack a little extra to make sure you’re set, so those checked bag fees can really add up.

Spending a full day or two driving to your location may not seem ideal, but you’ll save tons of money on your vacation. Plus, who says driving can’t be fun?

Hit the grocery store and get your kids’ favorite snacks that you don’t usually let them have. Prepare some road trip games to keep your kids occupied. If your kids are a little older, you can turn some of these games into a friendly competition to keep them interested–let the winner pick where you go for dinner that day or give them a little extra treat.

Splurge Only Where It Matters

When you’re planning a family trip on a budget, it should go without saying that you can’t splurge on everything. Decide what is most important to you and save everywhere else.

For example, maybe you know your kids will want to spend a day in Universal Studios Hollywood on your trip to California. So, splurge on park tickets, but cut out the fancy hotels and dinners.

Sign Up for Loyalty Rewards Programs

Are you planning on making family vacations a regular thing? Then be proactive and sign up for loyalty rewards programs now.

Airlines and hotel chains usually offer these and will let you rack up points by booking with them when you go on vacation. After a while, you can score some great deals. So, while this may not help you on this vacation, it could help you save big on trips in the future.

Look for Free Things to Do

Most tourist destinations have some affordable or free things to do. This can be anything from the hitting the beach or going hiking to free nights at the local museum.

Take your time to research what there is to do, so you can fill up your days with activities that won’t break the bank.

Notify Your Credit Card Company

Whenever you’re traveling outside of your city, it’s important to let your banks and credit card companies know. If you forget to inform them, you may have to deal with your credit card being frozen for suspicious activity.

Not only is this frustrating, but it means you may have to take money out of the ATM while you get everything sorted out. You’ll have to deal with those pesky ATM fees and risk your debit card being frozen, too.

So, whether you have a First Premier card, or you go with a different company, make sure you call them a few days before you leave.

Use Apps or Websites to Find the Best Deals

When you want to save as much money as possible, it’s important to shop for the best deals. Don’t just book the first flight or hotel you see.

There are tons of apps and websites, like Hopper,, and, that can help you compare prices and find the best deals. You can also search for tickets to attractions to get some great deals rather than paying more by buying at the entrance.

How to Book A Budget Family Vacation

If you haven’t taken your kids on a family vacation in a while, it may be overdue. But traveling doesn’t have to empty your wallet. Just follow our tips to planning a family vacation on a budget, so you can enjoy your trip without stressing about money.

Are you planning a trip to Southern California? Check out our blog for great activities and hotels.


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