5 Quick Tips for Making Travel Affordable.

January 7, 2016

 5 tips for more affordable travel


Raleigh art museum


We took our first family trips in 2015, and had (knock on wood) good experiences. It wasn’t until recently that we have been able to travel much more than just to see family. Gabe and I both love traveling and introducing new places and experiences to our children. Keep in mind, we never had much to spare for travel in the beginning of our marriage, and our first trip without our little ones was this one for our 6th anniversary! Blogging has brought more opportunities for travel now, but I don’t think it has to be expensive to see the world around you. These are just a few ideas that have helped us make family travel possible…

1) Experiences over gifts. I think an experience can be infinitely more valuable than material goods, so often times we use the money we would have used for birthday or Christmas gifts and use it towards concert tickets or a weekend trip. For Gabriel and Veronica’s last birthdays we packed up and went to Chattanooga. We are still hearing about their favorite memories from that weekend. We haven’t attempted flying our crew anywhere yet, but my dream is to go back to my family’s roots in Spain for a summer so we can maybe learn the language. 

2) Cutting out a monthly expense. We don’t go out to eat very often, and instead use that money towards travel savings. I am usually ready to wave the white flag and call in pizza by Friday, but we do try to save restaurants for special occasions. This is just one idea, but cutting back on an entertainment expense to save for travel adds up.

2) Plan ahead for best rates. Often times, hotels and airlines will run flash sales with ridiculous deals! If you have a few different dates in mind it helps when those flash sales come up and you can jump on the hot deal. Frontier airlines recently ran a special for dirt cheap flights to multiple places across the country.

3) Know your apps. There are some pretty savvy travel apps available that help you search for places to stay based on your rate and preferences. This is also a good idea for last minute plans if hotels are booked. A few of my favorites are Stayful, Airbnb, HomeAway, and Kayak. (Will write more on these soon.)

4) Pack your own breakfast and lunch foods. We usually buy snacks, breakfast bagels, supplies for lunch, etc. so that we only need to eat out for dinner. This saves a good amount of money when you are considering 6 people.

5) Plan for just in case scenarios. You don’t want to get stuck shelling out cash for things in airports and gas stations you didn’t plan for. The prices are always double the cost than if you had brought them yourself. We always have bottles of water, first aid kits, jumper cables, spare tire, etc. on hand for needs that may arise.

I’d love to hear any additional ideas you have in the comments below! Here’s hoping the year brings you the chance to taste a new dish, sleep in a different city, converse with a stranger, and conquer a fear. But most importantly, that you love the home you return to. 😉

*More travel posts here.


Leave a Comment

  • I love your tips, Anna! My boyfriend and I (while we don’t have little ones) try to stick to many of these tips/goals. We limited ourselves to eating out at most, once per week. We also nixed gifts for our anniversary this year and instead took a weekend trip to Portland, ME. It was so so worth it.

    Crossing my fingers that you get to Spain soon! I just read The Vacationers and it helped me escape to Mallorca for at least a little while 🙂


  • Shadia Brown

    I love this!! We have a savings jar where we put money in every week for a nice vacation. Making our lunches all week definitely saves a LOT of money and our resolution for this year is to cook on the weekends too instead of going out like we used to. It’s more work but it pays off!

  • I love this!

    Now that we have five kids, I try to stay in hotels that have free breakfast included because that is HUGE. We also usually buy loaves of sandwich bread, plus PB&J and fruit because honestly that’s what the younger kids are going to eat for sure. You can pay a lot more for a kids’ meal they will hardly touch. We haven’t ever actually used Airbnb or VRBO, but I think we should. Part of the problem is that our vacations are usually planned last minute because of my husband’s job.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Ah yes! That is what we did growing up. I do the same now with my little ones because we don’t end up wasting food, and save in the process. Last minute travel is the best though! Spontaneous adventure.

  • Portia Antonio

    We will be incorporating these tips! I like experiences as gifts. This year we are signing up for an annual membership at our science center which was surprisingly reasonable and also offered free admission to 300 science centers in the nation. I hope we will be able to put it to good use! Happy travels.

  • Great tips!!!

  • I loved ALL of these tips, Anna! In addition to focusing on experiences over things, I think Airbnb has been the most powerful adjustment we’ve made. With a family of five, being able to have our own space for the same–or less!–than the cost of a hotel not only makes sense from a budget standpoint, but increases the likelihood of everyone sleeping well. 🙂

  • These are all awesome tips! We were actually going to take our kids to Chattanooga in place of my two kids and my birthday (we all have birthday’s in August), but my husband wasn’t able to get the time off work, so it’s our plan for this year!


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