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Budgeting for a Family Vacation – 5 Top Tips


Does travel seem out of the question at this stage in your life?  Taking kids on planes or on long road trips can be trying.  Where will the money come from?  How will be kids react when being out of routine?



Here is the thing, traveling with kids is just moving the chaos from one location to another.  Sure if you do an all inclusive, you will not have to cook and clean at least! Woo woo!! but you will need to pack everything, and then some more because you don’t know what your kids might need in another country.

So you need bug spray,  beach toys, floatation devices, sun screen, snacks from home, their favourite stuffed animals, toys, entertainment.   Yike I am exhausted just thinking about what to pack.


It is all worth it, the precious memories made will be worth the bug bites and sun burns, worth the meltdown on the plane ride home, and worth anything tough that comes up on your vacation.  I assume you know when travelling with kids, it is not going to go off without a hitch!  All you do is plan for the worst, and hope for the best!

The biggest obstacle for us right now is financial.  I mean it is expensive to take your whole family on a trip.  We are finally at a stage where neither of the kids nap, and they will sit, and be entertained for a flight so this makes things much easier.  One is in junior kindergarten, and one isn’t in school so it is the perfect time to go because they won’t be missing much.  We have travelled once since our oldest was born.  That was for a friends wedding in the Dominican and we loved it.  We are in the midst of planning our next vacation.  My husband and I fell in love with Nicaragua many years ago, I have been 4 times and he has been 7 times.  We have not been able to take the kids there or get there ourselves since becoming parents.  We really want to take our kids, and have them experience what it is like to live a whole other lifestyle.  This mama could sure use a break by the ocean breeze, and palm trees.


So how are we going to make this happen?  Well we have a goal to go in December or January, and a dollar amount we need to achieve to make that happen.

Here is how you can budget and save for a family vacation.

  1. Make it a priority – and do not lose focus.  We have been saying for a while now that we want to go, but we made the mental mind shift that it is now a priority.  It makes things like skipping out on Starbucks to put money in the vacation account a whole lot easier!
  2. Set the goal, and research – When do you want to take this vacation?  Research the cost to go at that time – check out hotels, air bnb’s and other rentals, find out which days/times you will get the cheapest flight.  Adjust to make it the most cost effective plan.
  3. Do the math.  If you plan on going away in 10 months and need to save $6000 then you need $600 per month or approx. $150 a week.
  4. Set this amount into your weekly budget – is it feasible?  What else can you do to save extra money, or find other ways to make an extra income?  You may need to adjust the timeline, or find a way to make the vacation cheaper.
  5. Do not go into debt.  – Taking on a large debt for a vacation is not worth it.  You will end up paying so much extra in interest. Plus when you work hard, and have that money saved it makes the vacation that much sweeter!

Here are some money saving tips to implement to make a vacation dream a reality.

  • Cut out all drive thrus.  No Starbucks especially!
  • Minimize Eating out
  • Any spare change goes into our vacation jar.
  • Cut back on amount we spend on gifts (sorry family)
  • No extras this year – facials, pedicures, new shoes… (envision palm trees)
  • Practice being content with what you have.
  • Cut meat out of 2 meals a week – meat is expensive!!
  • Stop shopping for home decor (this is a major weakness for me)
  • Sell clothes/purses I do not use anymore.
  • Work harder on my business
  • Sell some of my kids clothes and toys
  • Do not purchase any more toys for them and only purchase clothing needs
  • Stick to the budget,  Stick to the budget.  Stick to the budget.

Stick to these rules and you will beach side (or on top of a mountain) in NO TIME!!

Don’t forget to budget for tips! From someone who has worked in the tipping industry, I know that people may have questions about what is appropriate. Here is a handy guide to help you out. At the end of the day if you received great service then tip appropriately if you received bad service then I believe your tip should reflect that! But do not skip a tip to save money, these people live by their trips remember that!

Vacation Etiquette Guide created by Beach Properties of Hilton Head

family vacation budget



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