Family of four walking hand in hand down beach

Ways to Save Money for a Family Trip

Updated August 29, 2022 . AmFam Team

Finding the money for a family vacation can be a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be. Check our great ideas on budgeting for your next big family getaway.

Among the many joys of being a parent is the opportunity to share your passions with your children. From exploring your favorite hobbies to diving into cherished family recipes, as your kids grow so do the memories you create together.

Going on vacation with your children is a great way to bond with them, but it can get costly. The good news is that getting out of town doesn’t have to break the bank. Plan for your next family adventure by exploring the tips in these family vacation FAQs.

How much should you budget for a family vacation?

Vacations can get expensive fast. The average cost per person for a week-long vacation is about $1,200 annually. So, if you’ve got a family of five, you’ll need to sock away at least $6,000 for transportation, hotels, meals and amusement parks.

That hefty number equates to around 8.5 percent of an average family’s yearly income. But here’s the good news: with a little planning and careful spending, you can chop those costs down to size.

Which financial management apps help you save?

One great way to start saving is to connect your bank account to a finance management and budget tracking app. By installing a money-saving app on your phone, you’ll clearly see where you’re spending and may be able find opportunities to save.

Check out budget apps like Mint, PocketGuard or You Need a Budget — all of which are great at tracking your spending. They help you to understand your finances by breaking down your money into spending categories. And at the end, you’ll have a better idea of how you can push more cash into your vacation savings account.

Another great way to save money is to download the MyAmFam app. Doing so affords you savings on your premium when you go paperless, and the benefits keep coming. From instant access to your proof of insurance to real-time claims management, the MyAmFam app gets you the features you need at your fingertips.

Why should you enroll in rewards programs?

From customer loyalty programs to free perks you’ll get when you sign up, airline and hotel loyalty programs can offer big discounts and savings. Enroll in frequent flyer programs and enjoy the benefits of free checked or carry-on bags and priority seating.

Hotel rewards packages offer perks like free in-room Wi-Fi, early and late check out options, free room upgrades, complimentary breakfasts and access to executive lounges. You may even qualify for free hotel stays after earning enough points.

One of the best ways to save on travel expenses is to pick up a travel-friendly credit card. Many airlines offer their own card with competitive rates and they hand over serious miles to new card members. With no- or low- balance transfer rates, you’re also able to consolidate debt and build out your vacation budget. And they’ve made earning points towards travel easy by doubling your points when you use the card towards hotel stays.

What are the benefits of opening a vacation savings account?

Owning a home can be full of financial surprises. You’ll need to have money socked away for unexpected maintenance expenses, but there are real benefits for putting your vacation money aside in a separate account. You’ll be able to spend directly from that account while you’re traveling.

And as your children get older, invite them to join the vacation fund. Consider allowing them to select a destination they want to visit and work with them toward that goal — watching their savings rise with every deposit.

Can you bundle and save on your vacation?

Compare and contrast costs by bundling airfare, hotel and car rentals with different travel websites like Priceline and Expedia. The result can save you a lot of money when compared to booking each separately. The same goes for your insurance needs, too. By bundling your home and auto insurance, you’ll be able to tuck extra cash away for your family vacation.

How can you save on transportation costs when traveling?

From airport parking fees, interstate tolls and gas to airfare, taxes and rental cars rates, travel-related expenses can account for more than half of your vacation budget. Try using public transportation instead of renting a car to help you save on cash.

If you do decide to rent a car, look into off-airport rental car locations. By working with a group that’s located off airport property, you’ll save on airport taxes and fees. Some even offer a shuttle to and from the airport. Others will deliver the car directly to your hotel.

Are there benefits to hotels with free shuttles and free breakfasts?

Leverage the airport shuttle to get your family to the hotel for free. You’ll be able to breathe a little easier because you won’t have to queue up for a rental car after dealing with baggage claim. And by booking hotels that offer free breakfasts to their guests, you can trim your vacation meal budget down a bit.

Can you mix business with pleasure on a family trip?

If your professional association has an annual destination conference, think about pairing a business trip with your family vacation. Your spouse and kids can have some time exploring local attractions while you attend the event and you’ll be able to write off — or be reimbursed — for a portion of your business travel expenses.

This approach works well for professionals who need to attend continuing education sessions. Frequently, these events are held near family-friendly destinations. Check in with your accountant prior to booking the trip to be sure that you’re working in line with current tax laws.

Also, be sure that your trip will qualify as a reimbursable expense. Save your receipts and document your spending carefully.

How can garage sales help you save for time away?

Rally the kids and work together to host a garage sale. Depending on the scale of your sale, you could rack up hundreds which should help cover the cost of entrance fees to their favorite amusement park. By planning a yard sale on a summer holiday weekend, you could really rake in the cash.

How can free events help you save for vacation?

It’s normal to fall into a routine as a family, especially when you find shops, food joints and events you enjoy. But when you’re saving for a vacation, your spending habits may need to shift.

Check for “free events near me” online and even ask on social media for suggestions from friends. You’re likely to find plenty of nearby happenings that will be fun for every age group. And you’ll be surprised at how quickly your calendar will fill up — without spending an extra penny.

Saving up for a trip doesn't have to be a chore. Follow these tips and you'll be on track to fulfilling your family’s travel dreams. And who knows? Being a bit scrappier may even help you discover exciting new experiences that were right under your nose.

Find the Travel Insurance Your Trip Needs

While you’re making vacation plans, be sure to check in with your American Family Insurance agent and get a quote on travel insurance. You’ve worked hard for your time off — enjoy your time with family and relish those memories that will last a lifetime.

This article is for informational purposes only and based on information that is widely available. This information does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. You should contact a professional for advice specific to your situation.

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