Is Family Travel Too Expensive? 11 Tips on How to Overcome It

You have dreams of epic family travel adventures with your children. Stealing back quality time with those you love most for deep bonding and memorable moments.

But, there’s one problem: Travel is expensive.

We all know it is. But it doesn’t have to stop you from traveling.

11 family travel tips
Grand Canyon South Rim

There are ways to lighten the expenses and make your dreams happen and your moments count.

I know because I’ve been traveling with kids, my two daughters since they were born. They’re now 11 and 7.

We’ve learned a lot over the years and I’m excited to share some tips with you today, along with our sponsor, Allianz Travel.

Based on a reader’s poll on the top family travel challenges, we’ve created a video and blog post series sharing our best tips to help you overcome those challenges.

Those top challenges were:

  1. Travel is too expensive
  2. How to create a travel experience the whole family will love
  3. How to balance school with travel
  4. How to manage a picky eater on the road

If you prefer video format, press play below to hear our tips for saving money on family travel:

1. Prioritize Family Travel

If traveling with kids is important to your family, make it a priority. It’s incredible what you can make happen when you prioritize and commit.

When family travel is a priority, you’ll reduce the money you spend on things that don’t really matter and only satisfy a need for instant gratification and comfort.

Yes sacrifice sucks, but those small sacrifices can lead to monumental gains in the long run – that is quality time with those little beings who grow up all too fast.

I travel a lot with my children, because it is our family’s number one priority so we sacrifice many other expenses and put our creative mind to work to create more money and save in order to do it.

Remember the most empowering question you can ask,

How can I?  rather than I can’t because….

2. Travel with Kids While They Are Young

Kangaroo Sanctuary, Alice Springs
Savannah holding a baby roo at the Kangaroo Sanctuary

Babies and young children are so cheap to travel with. They don’t need much, can often get free or cheap rates, and you can carry most of their food and supplies around with you.

Our eldest, Kalyra, is creeping towards the “adult” age – that is for travel prices and is even now exercising her rights to eat off the adult menu!

Eek. I’m a bit concerned at how our travel costs are about to raise.

3. Enjoy a Staycation

girls looking at a canyon
Boynton Canyon

I LOVE staycations with my family. It’s much cheaper and is way less hassle.

Why not get to know what is great about your local area?

Thing about why you love to travel and what you like to get out of it, and find those similar experiences.

You won’t care that you are actually only 5 miles up the road as you’ll be getting the feeling that you’re really traveling for.

4. Consider Road Trips

Chisos Basin Drive Big Bend Natinal Park Texas (2)
USA road trip

Road trips are our favorite way to explore. No airport hassles, excess baggage fees or overpriced flights for each member of the family!

You can carry a lot more, travel on your own schedule, be as flexible as you like and seek those unscripted off the path travel experiences, and you just have one bill – the fuel costs.

A family road trip is where the journey becomes part of the adventure.

Stay connected to our current family road trip as we travel across the USA with our travel trailer!  

5. Camping with Kids

caravans in the desert
So how do you like our campsite near Big Bend National Park in Texas?

With this crazy switched on urban lifestyles most of us have, it’s important to unplug and reconnect to nature.

Camping with kids is good for everyone’s soul, and it is super cheap and kids LOVE it!!

Don’t worry if you hate bugs and a little discomfort, there are plenty of glamping options these days as well as campervans, motorhomes and RVs.

But, really nothing can beat a good old tent, or even a swag, under a starry sky.

6. Seek Out Travel Deals

Times Square - There's plenty of seating along The Highline and apparently during summer there’s weekly free drop-in workshops for kids.
Times Square, NYC

Using deal finding sites like Groupon, you can often find great discounts on local experiences like trolley tours and cruises.

Local magazines and tourist brochures may also have these.

If we’re visiting a city we know we’ll be doing a lot of sightseeing, like New York, we’ll purchase city sightseeing passes which can save us a lot of money on attraction fees and other discount perks on restaurants and shows.

7. Ditch Hotels for Home Rentals

Hotels come with plenty of extra fees, expensive restaurants, parking fees, and endless opportunities for tipping.

Traveling families can save a lot of money by renting a home instead. Not only on the room rate, but also on eating out, tipping, resort fees, and parking!

And you get so much extra space! You know you need it.

This works wonders especially for larger families, who often have to book more than one hotel room.

Even better, traveling with other families, rent a huge house which will be even cheaper and you can all have mad fun together.

You can rent homes near Disneyland in Orlando that sleep around 35 people for around $1,000 a night in the offseason. Click here to see our amazing experience with friends renting a vacation villa in Orlando.

You can find Airbnb rentals here. 

8. Save Costs on Food

save money on food family travel

Cook in your apartment or rental home, take your own snacks and food with you, look for kids eat free deals or happy hour prices at restaurants, grocery store buffets, or get local delivery.

You can always have your kids share meals because those serving sizes in the US are generally on the extra large size.

Read more: How to supersize your health on a US road trip

9. Travel Out Of Season

This maybe tricky taking into account school calendars. Stay tuned for a video offering tips for that.

But, you can save a lot of money traveling out of peak season and it’s always nicer to travel away from the crowds.

We’re currently in the Grand Canyon during winter! It’s so pleasant having almost every view point to ourselves and it’s so much cheaper.

We homeschool and so tend to spend the summer at home and then travel when the rest of school is in, which saves us a lot of money.

Use features like flexible travel dates in search engines to help you find those cheaper days to fly or stay in hotels.

10. Check for Hidden Fees

It feels like family travel is rife with hidden fees – what about those horrible resort fees?!

That’s why it’s important that you carefully evaluate your accommodation choices. You’ll also have added extra fees for parking in many hotels.

And don’t forget those extra taxes.

Other hidden fees to watch out for are rental excess insurance coverage. Your credit card may cover this, OR certain insurance policies with Allianz, will cover the excess insurance so no need to pay those hefty extra fees.

Click to read more information on what rental car insurance covers.

11. Earn and Travel

travel blogger earn and travel
Work and travel – great office

This may not be relevant nor the style in which you want to travel, but I am including it as it is how I have managed to travel for over 20 years now.

I simply earn and travel.

I’ve lived and worked in 5 countries and now we have our own travel business, we earn money as we travel.

You don’t have to be a travel blogger or a writer.

Here are some of the jobs I’ve had around the world – teacher, bartender, waitress, pearl farmer, door to door sales woman, and Craig used to work for Delta – yep free stand by flights. Thank you, business class tickets to Australia!

There are many ways you can earn money while you travel which greatly reduces your expenses and the need to save

The first five episodes of our travel podcast shares the various jobs we’ve had around the world and how we’ve made travel a priority for 22 years.

Click the playlist below to see more tips in this family travel challenges series:

This post is sponsored by our partner Allianz Travel (AGA Service Company) and we have received financial compensation as ambassadors. But all opinions about the Grand Canyon are our own.

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Which tips are you going to take action on today so you can have those quality moments with your travel babies who are growing up way to quickly?

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