How to afford international travel with the whole family

Family TravelTravel Tips


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For some, saving up enough to book just one overseas ticket seems challenging, let alone planning a trip for the entire family. But there’s good news: There are a few simple things you can do to make an international holiday for the whole family more affordable. Here are some tips you can try to lower the cost and make your dream a reality.

Plan your trip wisely

Consider traveling to locations where the cost of living is relatively cheap. For example, adventuring in South America can yield beautiful views and unparalleled cultural activities—and it can be a lot less expensive than a European holiday.

Rent out your home

If you’re able to rent your home on a short-term lease, you could make back some of the money you spend during your vacation. It’s a lot easier to take a month-long trip to Greece if you know you can pocket some cash while you’re gone! Just read the fine print closely, and be sure you have a good home insurance policy.

Work remotely

If you’re traveling with another adult as well as your kids, consider tag-teaming your childcare duties to make some money while you’re away. Lots of companies allow employees to work from home—what if “home” was overseas for a week or so? Before you plan your trip, ask your supervisor if this is possible. If it’s not, and you plan on being gone for a while, consider picking up a freelance project.

Just be sure to plan some fun activities for your travel partner or spouse to enjoy with the kids. While they’re playing, you can earn some extra cash. If you don’t want to miss out on the daytime fun, kick out an hour or two of work after the kids go to bed at night. Working from the road will alleviate some of your financial stress, and it can be fun to work from a café in a new city!

Experience it like a local

Avoid pricey tourist traps and tours. Instead, find economical places to explore, like interesting neighborhoods. Ask locals where to eat for cheap and enjoy low-cost or free experiences like public beaches, national parks, spice markets and more. Do some research before you go, and make a list of all the cheap or free amenities your destination has to offer.

Limit souvenir spending

It’s hard to say no to kids (and maybe even your spouse) in every shop, but buying trinkets can take away resources from awesome experiences. Give each person in your family $10 to spend on souvenirs during the getaway. The budget will help them make their own good spending decisions, not to mention have fun hunting for “the” souvenir the entire trip.


Photo Credit: “Peaceful children” by M M via Flickr. License info.

Play the airline system

You could save big on flight costs by poking around the internet for a few hours. For starters, don’t assume a bundled itinerary through a single airline is the cheapest way to go. If your flight is from Atlanta to New York to Amsterdam, see if you can find a cheaper flight from Atlanta to New York through a different carrier. If it costs big bucks to get to Amsterdam, research flying into a nearby city and taking a train to your final destination. If you use a rewards program, apply your rewards to domestic connecting flights. And don’t forget to shop for airlines that allow babies or small children to fly for a free or at a discounted rate.

Be flexible

Want to take your family to Japan for three weeks? Talk to your supervisor to see if your vacation request can be flexible. If you’re able to set an alert to notify you when cheap flights become available, you could save hundreds in airline costs just by leaving a few weeks before or after you originally intended.

Avoid baggage fees

This can be a tough one when you’re traveling with a family, but a little planning can make it a reality. Pack lightly. Don’t be afraid to wear the same clothes a few times or do laundry while you’re away. If you can’t eliminate suitcases completely, family members can share a bag. You’ll save money and feel less stressed when you’re not lugging heavy bags from city to city.

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