5 ways to save money when you travel

Traveling with a family can seem cost-prohibitive. But Lauren is sharing some great tips for planning and enjoying family travel, even if the budget is tight.

By Lauren Worsham

Family Fun


One of the most common responses I hear for reasons not to travel is one that has to do with budget.

“Travel is too expensive.”

“We don’t have enough money for that.”

“That vacation is out of our budget.”

While I always try to respect the budget of every family I work with, I do have a few suggestions of ways to save money.

Plan Early

I know I mention this frequently but, it’s a point worth hearing over and over.

To begin with, pricing for flights, cruises, and resorts increases gradually over time. That’s not to say that a good last-minute deal can’t be found. But if you need to plan your travel to be able to plan to take time off work or to schedule a pet or house sitter, last minute vacations are challenging to organize. Also, many resorts and cruise lines offer promotions throughout the year and will happily honor those promotions if the booked category lines up properly. So, planning early does not mean you will miss out on a good deal.

Bring your own food and water

Taking food along or ordering groceries is much easier when you travel domestically. Most of the time now Shipt and Instacart can get to you with groceries.

Having food with you at all times is so helpful. You avoid those “hangry” moments and you save money when some of the convenient food options won’t hesitate to charge you an arm and a leg. Not to mention buying water. Those $3 bottles of water add up quickly.

Opt for the “all-inclusive package” or excursions in advance

You may not always have this option at your destination but, if they offer an all-inclusive package of some kind, take it.

Once again pricing for food and drinks adds ups quickly. It’s usually priced higher than you expect. Sure, “all-inclusive” may be more than you need, but changing your mind when you arrive will cost you. All-inclusive add-ons tend to cost a little less when you buy them in advance. The other benefit is that you have a guarantee that you get what you want. If a package is sold out or an excursion is booked up, you may be facing some unexpected and unnecessary disappointment.

Choose activities wisely

I realize that many families have not traveled in 2 or 3 years due to the pandemic, and that once you decide to take that trip you really want to get out there. While I am in full support of that I think that sometimes more is “too much”.

One special experience is still special. More than that takes away from the truly unique moments. Consider what is most valuable to you on vacation. If you don’t have a lot of time to travel, consider paying more for direct flights or using a tour guide who can help you hit all the highlights. If you have more time to travel, I would consider the opposite and spend the money on a few extra days at your destination and instead explore on your own.

Buy gifts in advance or bring along a prepaid gift card

If your children are like mine, they like things and it is hard not to fall into the gift shop trap. So, I will pack a few surprises to pull out along the way. Sometimes I go to the Target, Dollar Spot, Dollar Store, or I might find something great at the outlet mall.

This step definitely requires extra time and effort but, it also can save me from spending more on a toy that may not even survive the trip home. I also allow my children to bring an item or two from home – again to remind them of what they already have. If your children really want to have the opportunity to pick out something memorable from their vacation consider giving them a prepaid gift card. This way there are some guard rails up, but they still get to have a memorable shopping experience.

I believe travel is possible on any budget and you don’t have to break the bank while on vacation. Having a strategy in place will help you to stay on track for a worry-free vacation.


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