You’ve probably seen our travels on Instagram or TikTok after traveling to over 30 different countries with our three kids. Needless to say, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to afford travel all over the world as a family with kids. One of the most frequently asked questions we get on social media is how we afford to travel so much with our 3 kids. 

Spoiler alert: We aren’t rich. We know that’s probably an initial reaction to seeing our lifestyle on social media. The truth is, we’ve just very intentionally prioritized travel for our family, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. Here, we’re going to share some of our tips for affording to travel all over the world, all the time, with our family of five. 

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How to Afford Travel as a Large Family

Without getting too deep into our personal expenses, we’ve broken this down into three different steps:

Make a Plan

You need a plan for how much you want to travel, how you’ll save/spend money to make that happen, and so forth. You’ll need a play-by-play, something you and your family can stick to. If you don’t create a plan, you’ll never make your travel dreams come true!

Stick to Your Budget

The second step is executing that budget within your plan, making your plan come to life. Whether your budget is $50 a month or 50,000 a year, whatever it may be, take that budget, dissect it, and make sure that you can use that budget to optimize your travel dreams.

Whether it’s one or two trips a year, one or two trips a quarter, or in our case, 25 trips, just make sure that you execute your budget. Focus on that budget. Keep it in front of you at all times.

Save Money

The last step is to think about how you can make money or save money in unique ways. Whether it’s a game for the family on how to save, the swear jar, or in our case, figuring out how to use your business model to make money to help stretch your budget a little bit more.

Money doesn’t just appear out of nowhere, so I think it would be doing a disservice if we didn’t talk about the money element. We’ve been really lucky that we found unique ways to make money.

When we first started traveling, we were only saving $50 a month. We set that aside, and my methodology was to always pay myself first. Whenever I got a paycheck I would have an automatic draft come out of my checking on the same day and go into savings. You could have one savings account or a separate travel savings account. Either way, if you’re taking that money right away and it’s going right into that account, you technically aren’t really seeing it. This has always felt like the easiest way to save money away without feeling the loss of that money. 

Another way to save money is to pay off as much debt as possible upfront and then put that money toward savings. Start little by little. Even though it might not seem like it’s moving very, very quickly, it won’t happen for most of us overnight. Choose your small debts, like credit card debt, and pay each off as quickly as you can. 

The Mindset Shift

As someone who loves to shop and loves to spend and is constantly tempted by all these things that I want, it’s just constantly reminding yourself of your priorities. If your priority is to travel more, these are the steps that we used. Reminding yourself in those moments when you’re in the aisles of Target, and you’re seeing all of these beautiful things that you want to decorate your home or for the holidays or whatever it might be, just ask yourself what you really need, and if the things you want are really going to keep you away from your ultimate goal, which is to travel more.

Do you Set the Budget First or Plan the Trip First?

There is no right or wrong way to go about this. If you have your heart set on a specific trip that you know you want to do first, then planning the trip first is a good idea. That way, you’ll know how much money you need to save, and you can tweak your budget around that. 

For us, we are just constantly thinking with the mindset of travel being a priority. So we’re just allocating that money towards a travel fund. Then at any given time, you can decide this is the kind of trip that we can afford right now based on what we can budget at this time. 

We were saving for two years because we really had our hearts set on having enough money for our trip to Europe. But at other times, we’re just constantly saving and putting money into our travel fund while we’re not even sure exactly what we’re saving for. This way, you will have the funds when a good travel deal presents itself. 

This presents a great transition into the next part of our planning, which is executing. Now you have the money you’ve saved, you’ve paid down your debt. Now what?

You’ve Saved the Money You Need for Your Trip, Now What?

Finding the Best Deals

We spend a lot of time researching, comparing different destinations, and looking at pricing. We always consider how we’re going to get there. Is it by boat? Are there flights? Are we going to do a round trip? Are we going to multiple destinations in one trip? All of those things are considered in our planning, and most of all, what fits the current budget. 

We all know it’s important to do your research, but here are some tangible ways that you can research to find the best value for your hard-earned money. 

1. Flexible Travel Dates

We all know that if you’re traveling during the school holidays, that is the peak travel season. So if you have flexibility there, that’s going to help you find the best value. Also, looking at what destinations are popular in those months. So if you’re looking to go to Disney World during summer break or spring break, you’re gonna spend a pretty penny. If that’s really the only time and that’s what you’ve budgeted for, definitely go for it. But if you want to make the most of your funds, you want to be flexible with your travel dates and look at different destinations and different dates.

One of the ways that we do that is we utilize Google Flights and we start to look at the map choose a destination, let’s say Europe for example, and then we’ll look at within the next six months. From there we’ll just see what the map shows us. It may show we could get to London for $200 round trip if we travel on certain dates, and that’s where we start. 

Can we travel on those dates? Maybe it’s not reasonable. So then we look at the next deal, and then we can see if we could go to Italy for a $500 round trip. We’re constantly going back and forth, trying to figure out what works. Where are the deals? What dates do we want to travel? All while trying to be as flexible as we can to find those really inexpensive flights. This is an important part of planning because if you’re not careful, the flights can eat up a big majority of your budget, especially if you’re looking to go international and you have multiple people to buy airfare for. 

2. Packing Light to Save Money

If you’ve been following our travels for any amount of time, it’s probably not a shock to you that we save money when traveling by packing light. We are just going to continue to say this even though people are probably sick and tired of hearing it. It’s such a big part of how we travel and how we’re able to save so much money when we travel. Packing light saves so much on baggage fees. It really comes down to spending a lot of money before you even go on a trip or get to your destination. 

In order to cut back on excessive packing, the best thing you can do is purchase a capsule wardrobe. If you choose a quality brand with good clothing that lasts a long time, that’s really helpful too. The thing about a capsule wardrobe, if you do it correctly, you have all of these versatile pieces, and you can mix and match them constantly. Which means you’re getting all of these new outfits out of the same wardrobe. A fun thing about this is if you cut out the spending on new clothing before the trip, then you don’t feel guilty if you find something really unique and special while you’re on the trip. 

Another way you save money by packing light is when you take an Uber or other kind of car service, for example, from the airport to your hotel. You have to order an Uber to fit the size of your family and all of your luggage. So if your luggage doesn’t take up too much space, you can potentially order a smaller, cheaper car. 

Get our best packing hacks for traveling with just one backpack here.

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Did you know you can book flights for FREE? We flew to Paris as a family of 5 for just $18! Learn the exact step-by-step instructions of how we did it here.

3. Vacation vs Traveling

The idea of vacationing versus traveling has saved us a lot of money. Those two things are not the same. Vacationing is essentially going to a resort, lying around by the pool, doing nothing, and drinking your pina colada. Vacationing is usually focused on relaxing. 

Traveling is more of an experience or immersion in the place that you’re visiting. We do try to take a couple of vacations a year, but we are pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone with most of our other trips. We are hiking every day, walking 20,000 steps a day, exploring sites, and trying different things that we’ve never tried before. 

One is not better than the other, but the two are just not the same. You have to ask yourself if you want to experience immersing yourself in a different culture, going to museums, walking on cobblestone streets, and that sort of thing, or relaxing by a pool and having a spa day, which are two totally different experiences. When you’re planning, you have to look at both of those things because those can directly impact your budget and how you allocate your finances. 

What we found is that when we leave the resorts, and we leave these kinds of luxurious, expensive hotels, and we go off the beaten path a bit, not only are we getting these really beautiful cultural experiences, but we’re saving so much money by doing it this way.

Another advantage of traveling versus vacationing is that you’re no longer feeding your money into a big tourist attraction, which is what you usually go to when you vacation. They’re going to take advantage of the fact that you’re there as a tourist and you’re paying tourist prices. Compared to going off the beaten path a little bit, experiencing the culture, and living more of a local’s lifestyle, traveling is going to be more affordable. 

Your meals and accommodations will be more affordable, and honestly, in our experience, we find that we enjoy the company of the people better because they’re not so jaded by the tourism industry. They’re just genuinely happy to have people come and experience their culture and learn from them. 

So not only are you saving money, but you’re also getting an overall, in our opinion, more enjoyable experience because you’re learning about people’s cultures and getting to interact with them face to face in their everyday lives. 

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You can use travel credit cards to earn points towards flights, accommodations and more. Learn more about our top 6 favorite travel credit cards here!

Follow Along for More Tips for Affordable Travel

We have so much more to share with you about how to afford travel, especially with a family! You can find tons of information on our website and social media already, but there is so much more to come! Follow along on Instagram or TikTok for all the inspiration, tips, and more!

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