Most traveling families aren’t rich. They are able to travel because they make financial decisions that prioritize family travel. Once families are on the road, it is still important to stick to a budget and keep costs down. After all, traveling can get expensive if you are not careful! We’ve asked some traveling families to share their tips for keeping their costs down while they are traveling. Here is what they had to say…
Dr. Jessie Voigts from Wandering Educators
One of the ways we save money while we travel is our food budget. Instead of eating out all the time, we are creative with meals to stretch our budget. We eat out at lunchtime instead of dinner, to cut about a third off the cost of meals. We look for online coupons (groupon, living social, etc.) and restaurant email lists, to further reduce the price of our meals out.
But perhaps my favorite way of saving money on food while traveling is shopping at local grocery stores and markets. Food is my THING, and I love to peruse different grocery stores and learn what is eaten where. I also talk to people at stores and markets, and ask for recommendations, recipes, and tips. At outdoor markets, I often talk with someone so much that they invite us to visit their farm, or will bring me something special the next day. Not only am I supporting local farmers and businesspeople, but we’re truly experiencing local culture more deeply than you can by eating at a restaurant all the time.
Julie from Road Trips For Families
Some of the ways we save money while traveling are remembering to pack reusable water bottles. We use gas station microwaves to pop bags of popcorn and I’ve been known to drink the occasional cup of instant coffee. One thing that’s saved us money over the years is purchasing a regional coupon book (like the Entertainment books) or checking hyperlocal Groupon deals in advance of our trip. Some state parks (Ohio, for example) are free to everyone. Another tip is to search for “Kids Eat Free” days at local and chain restaurants.
Samantha from Going Where The Wind Blows
We travel slowly so that we can take advantage of longer holiday lets and accommodation offers. By booking a month at an Air BnB property for example, we often get a 40% discount on the weekly rates. We use a variety of websites to source cheap accommodation. I spend a lot of time researching and booking accommodation before we go somewhere. We try to avoid staying in a country during the local school holidays, as that pushes prices up for holiday lets.
We got lucky in Gran Canaria. As we were trying to sort out a long term furnished let for around 10 months, we actually ended up negotiating a really good monthly rate on the sea view apartment we had booked through Holiday Lettings instead. Was easy once they found out we were looking! It was a relief as we weren’t getting any quick responses from the local estate agents!
We are a family of 6 with 4 children aged 3 to 11 years old, so we exceed the maximum occupancy of 5 people on most hotel rooms. Rarely, it works out cheaper to book two motel style rooms (requesting adjoining where possible) but they lack facilities for us in the long term. Therefore, we tend to rent self-catering apartments or cottages, which also help us to save on eating out lots. Self-catering helps as our eldest has peanut anaphylaxis, so eating out often becomes stressful as well as expensive.
So far, we have found a wide variety of great accommodation options in Kuala Lumpur, Malta, the United Kingdom and Gran Canaria. Our favourite was the old farmhouse with pool in Gozo, and scariest was a 31 floor apartment in Kuala Lumpur with no window or door locks!
Michele from And Off We Went
While it doesn’t work for everyone or even every trip, volunteering can help save quite a lot of money while travelling. We did successful Workaways in Ecuador, Colombia and Panama (7 of them all up) and managed to save hundreds of dollars, if not thousands, on our accommodation. Some provide free accommodation and even at times, free food, depending on the host. We stayed rent free in beaches in Ecuador for 2 months, stayed on 2 farms in Colombia, and managed 3 hostels in Panama – all very diverse experiences for our family.
As a family, it can be slightly more difficult to find a host but once you do, it can open up a whole new world of possibilities.
Amy from Worldschool Adventures
Our family of four is are currently traveling in Europe for just over three months. We are keeping our costs down by traveling deep instead of wide! That means that we have chosen a handful of destinations within Europe and are spending up to a month at a time in each destination. We can save a bundle by renting Airbnb apartments by the month, as monthly rentals can save you as much as 60% over the cost of renting by the night. We are averaging $50 CAD per night for our European accommodations. A family of four would be hard-pressed to find a hostel for that!
Since we rent apartments, we also have the advantage of being able to cook our own food as we are renting apartments instead of hotel rooms which saves so much money!
We also take advantage of using public transport. We purchase transport cards as a local would (as opposed to those targeted at tourists) and we take the bus, trains, and metro instead of taxis. For instance, in Barcelona we purchased a T70 pass which gets us 70 rides on any form of public transport within a 30 day period. The cost was 59€ for the pass so our family can travel anywhere in the city for less than 1€ each!
Brandon from Pearce On Earth
Traveling with your family doesn’t have to break the bank! One of the biggest expenses of family travel (after airfare) is the price of accommodation. But there are easy ways to save thousands of dollars on family accommodation AND stay in places that are much more enjoyable than a hotel room!
How do we save money on accommodation?
- We Book Houses Or Apartments – Not only does booking a house or apartment end up being cheaper than a hotel room, it also gives you the space you need as a family and provides conveniences like having a kitchen to cook your own meals in.
- We Travel In The Low Season – You can find discounts of 50% or more by traveling in the low season! Landlords are willing to slash their prices in the low season in order to make their properties more appealing. Low season can also be a great time to travel as there will be smaller crowds and a more relaxed vibe.
- We Book Long Term – Staying in one place for one month or more will help you to stretch your dollar and also give you a better feel for the customs and culture of the place you are staying.
- We Book Accommodation Locally – While sites like Airbnb are great, we have found that if you look for accommodation once you are at your destination you will find a much better deal. When arriving at a new destination, book a few nights online and then pound the pavement once you get there!
- We Are Nice To The Landlords – This may seem obvious, but your attitude when you contact landlords can go a long way in securing a discounted rate. Be nice, smile, be well-mannered, maybe even bring a small gift for your first meeting. You will be amazed at how far a little kindness can go!