Years ago I had big dreams of jetsetting around the world. I had been a French major and lived a year in France. That year I traveled to Austria, Germany, and explored the south of France.
The following year, hubs and I went to France on our honeymoon. A year later we traveled to Honduras.
The next year I became a mom. And traveling came to a screeching halt. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to continue traveling. We did. But, it either was too expensive or too much work. And then more kids came and more debt. Travel was an impossibility.
Our children are more important to us than traveling the world.
Rethinking family travel.
A few months ago, hubs and I were talking about what we would have done differently had we had a smaller family. We concluded that we might have traveled more. That gave us pause.
And the motivation to figure out how to make family travel a bigger piece of our family life pie.
We don’t want our family size to impede us from the experiences we really want for us and for our kids. While we also realize that we’ll need to give it a bigger piece of our budget as well, we’re still looking for ways to make it budget friendly for our bigger-than-average family.
Here are some things we’ve done this past week as we ventured forth on our second annual fall vacation.
1. Rent a condo.
Once you get a family larger than four people, you will encounter hotels that are resistant to booking your entire family in one room. If you choose the hotel route, make sure that you request connecting rooms. Vacation is no fun when the parents have to stay in separate rooms.
For our purposes, we reserved a three bedroom condo for the same price as two regularly priced hotel rooms. Not only did we get the added benefit of extra space and togetherness, but we also had a full kitchen and living area for hanging out.
2. Go in the off season.
We have vacationed only three times in our years of parenting, each during an off-season where the crowds are diminished and the prices are lower. This has made vacation much more restful than going when everyone else does.
We paid about a fifth of the regular price on accomodations. Holy smokes! We could never swing such accommodations any other time of the year.
3. Enjoy nature for free.
Last year we vacationed in Monterey and Mammoth, both areas with plenty of public space to roam and enjoy the great outdoors. This past week we returned to Mammoth. We were unconcerned about paying for our family’s entertainment. Nature is usually free.
(And the ski lifts weren’t open yet!)
We were able to hike, play in the early snow, and swim in the condo’s heated pool.
4. Take your own food.
While it was a little work to pack a week’s worth of food for 8 people, it was so nice not to have to find the right restaurant, unless we wanted to. I brought chili fixings, lasagna, pasta, hot dogs and brats, and enchiladas as well as quick fix breakfasts and lunches. We ate well without the stress of grocery shopping while on vacation or hunting for a good restaurant.
5. Pay cash.
Living debt-free has changed a lot of things. We don’t worry about paying for something that we enjoyed last year. And we also enjoy the trip more knowing that it’s paid for. It has made a world of difference to be have breathing room in our budget.
It takes some work to get to that place. I know. But at the same time, I think it’s a good goal to have.
There are lots of creative ways to make a vacation a reality, even if you live on a budget. I remember childhood family friends saved all their spare change in a 5-gallon water jug. That was their vacation fund. Brandi’s story is inspiring in getting her family to Disney on a budget. Erica and her husband are traveling the world. Lana and her family bought a vacation home.
Vacations don’t have to be pie-in-the-sky dreams, even if you have a large family. If you plan ahead and think outside the box, you can create budget-friendly family vacations.
What do YOU do to save money?