Tips for traveling cheaper with family

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Even though traveling is never cheap for families (and the bigger the family, the more expensive it gets), there are ways to make it more budget-friendly. We’re in six people, traveling full time for almost the last two years, living on one income. We’ve put up a few tips for traveling cheaper with family.

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How to make travel cheaper for families

Below you’ll find what we do to make traveling a little more budget friendly.

How to save on vacation in general

  • Avoid high season at the destination at all costs. That’s the most important tip for budget travelers and it’s valid in the whole world. Sometimes, you know, we want to visit a certain place during high season for various reasons (like Japan during cherry blossom) or Uruguay during summer. It’s fine, but it will be more expensive.
  • Try to visit budget-friendlier destinations like Southeast Asia, some places in South America, etc.
  • Carry only the essential. The less you carry, the less you’ll pay and the less space you’ll have to buy stuff – saving all the way.
  • RESEARCH. I can’t stress this enough. Research flight (or train, petrol, whatever method you’ll use to get there), accommodation (this is a big one), transport within your destination (which is basic but often forgotten), food costs, the price for the attractions, etc.
  • Plan – a rough guide is fine, as long as it contains all the places you need to visit and see if it fits your budget.
  • Cook. It’s cheaper but it won’t be as fun…
That’s the view of Cusco from the airplane. Cusco is extremely beautiful and it was worth the trip.

How to save on accommodation

  • Check prices on multiple sites like Booking, Airbnb (affiliate links), and always try to contact the hotel/hostel/house before you book it. Ask for a discount, it won’t hurt.
  • If you’re staying for a longer period (say a week or over), you’ll probably get better deals. Sometimes it’s cheaper to keep the same house/hotel and do day trips than movign often.
  • Hotels, unless they have a deal, are more expensive, so find one that offers breakfast, free internet, free shuttle, etc. You will have more comfort, probably, with housekeeping and fluffy towels. And try to get one with a kitchen, even if it’s a very basic one.
  • For hostels, find one that’s family-friendly. Super important because some hostels are for partying people.
  • For holiday homes, try to find one that’s not far from whatever you want to do. There’s no point in saving $10 a day if you’ll spend that to get to the places you want to visit every day.
Hobbiton was a dream come true for me – definitely not cheap, though.

How to save on food

  • COOK! Seriously, you don’t have to make anything fancy, 3 courses and all. There are many one-pot meals to be made and any sandwich day can be a lifesaver. Unless you’re somewhere where food is super cheap, cooking can make your buck last a lot longer. Plus, it’s almost always healthier.
  • If you’re gonna eat out anyway, and you will, I hope, find where the locals eat. These places tend to be cheaper and culturally richer.
  • Avoid eating nearby touristic attractions – walk a little further and you’ll find a lot of cheaper options!

How to save on transport

  • Walk as much as possible. It’s free and great for your health. You may need to stop a few times on the way, but what’s the rush?
  • It does happen that the kids are tired, you’re tired, or it’s too far. Well, in this case, know what’s the cheaper option! For large families, bus and trains may not be the cheapest way – sometimes taxis are better.
  • But, most often than not, when your kids aren’t that little anymore (we have 3 teens), renting a car ends up being cheaper. Just don’t forget to add up the petrol money!
Colombia’s Cartagena was very, very hot, but what a charming town! We even included a day in a deserted island!

How to save on plane tickets

We have a whole post with tips, so you can check them here!

  • The basics are that you’ll need to check often, in a lot of websites, and decide if the cheapest flight is better for you – sometimes the cheapest flight takes over 24 hours of travel and that may not be the best option when we’re traveling with kids. Some options are Google Flights, Skyscanner, and your tourism agency – they often have prices that are hard to beat!
  • Always check what the ticket includes because it may not have food, entertainment, seat selection, checked bag, or even a super small carry-on allowance. If you add what you need, it may end up being a lot more expensive than other airlines.
  • Check on all the dates possible. Seriously. Adding a day here, removing a day there, changing the flight time, it all makes a huge, huge difference.

To finish it…

Even though we won’t be able to travel for US$ 20 a day, we’ve been doing it for cheaper than we’d do while we had a home in Auckland (NZ).

Our aim is to spend less than US$ 70 in accommodation, and under US$ 100 per day for the whole family. Although it’s not always possible, we can ALMOST all the time, keep it that way. Remember that our kids are older, and we have 4 of them.

Those were our tips, I hope you’ll make good use of them!

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