10 Ways to Save Money for a Family Vacation

Taking a family vacation is a great way to make lasting memories with your children.  However, most family vacations aren’t that cheap.  If you don’t have a lot of extra money you might have ruled out being able to afford a family vacation, but there are ways you can save money for a family vacation even without a large income.

How to save money for a family vacation

We’ve been taking family vacations since the kids were born.  Sometimes vacations were big, like driving 40 hours across the country to see the mountains, while other times they were small, like spending a weekend away camping close by.  But the size of the vacation never really mattered.  We made memories no matter what we were doing.

And that’s the first thing to remember.  You may not have enough money to take a big, flashy vacation.  But your kids don’t need that to have a good time.  They just want to spend time with their parents doing something fun.

No matter the size or expense of the vacation you have your eye on, there are ways you can save money.  Let’s talk about them.


Start saving well in advance

They say the best time to start something is a year ago, the second best time is today.  It can be hard to plan for things long-term.  Starting to save for a vacation that might be a long way off isn’t something that we always think about. 

But, instead of deciding you don’t have the money to take a vacation, start putting money in a special fund.  If it takes a year, two years, even five years, you’ll be glad you did it.  I know people who’ve saved money for YEARS to take a big vacation.  For some people, that’s how much time they need to be able to afford it.

You don’t need to have a date picked out for your vacation.  Just start saving and when you are getting close to the amount you need, then start planning. 

We’d like to go to Florida for our next trip and I’m not sure exactly when we would have enough money saved so while I have an idea of when I want to go, I’m not setting any dates.  I don’t want to go into debt for it so we need to save the money first before we start solidifying a time we can go.

Make a plan of how much you will save each month

If you just decide you’ll just try to put money in the fund whenever, it won’t happen as well as you’d like it to happen.  Something always comes up.  Look at your budget and decide how much you can put away each month.  It might be a couple hundred dollars, it may only be 50 dollars.  But try to commit to a minimum amount to make sure your vacation fund is growing.

Save points from reward programs

One of my favorite travel hacks is to save all our points from a few of our reward programs we are in.  One of them we are able to use for free groceries, the other for gas cards. 

We save the grocery points and use it to buy a bunch of groceries on our trips (we like to cook a lot of our own food on vacation) and use the gas cards for driving to the destination.  It takes a while – at least a year of saving to make it worth it, but it definitely helps us fund our trips.

Put away gift money

If you get any money for birthdays or Christmas, take the opportunity to put that money in your vacation fund.

Suggest to relatives to give the kids gift cards or money for Christmas

If you have relatives that like to give your kids gifts for Christmas or their birthdays, you can always suggest gift cards or money for your upcoming vacation for them. 

This allows the kids to have spending money on the trip so if they want to buy anything like souvenirs, or a certain activity that is above and beyond your budget, they will be able to do that.

I have a relative who always asks what the kids want for Christmas and if we are going on vacation I’ll let her know the destination and what kind of gift cards might work.  She loves to be able to bless the kids in this way.

Take an extra side job

If you have some extra time, consider an extra side job, like babysitting once or twice a week, or cleaning a local office or church, or pet sitting.  Put all the money from that job into your vacation fund.

Use your income tax refund

Now that I’m self employed income tax refunds are a thing of the past, but when we used to get them I’d use them for either a vacation or homeschooling books.  That income tax refund can help your family enjoy a vacation.

Cut other things out of your budget to save

Do you enjoy eating out a few times a month?  Could you give it up for half a year and take the money you would spend on restaurants and put it towards your vacation?  Or do you hit up the coffee shop, or purchase books every month? 

Do you have a monthly streaming subscription you could let go for a little while?  What could you cut out of your budget to make your vacation happen?  Re-evaluate your expenses and see if you can give something up for the long-term goal of a vacation.

Lower your grocery budget 

No, I’m not suggesting you cut back on eating.  However, the grocery bill is the one main place that is not a set amount and there are many ways you can save on food.  Shopping the sales, meal planning, and hitting the budget grocery stores are just a few ideas.  Take the extra money you didn’t spend on groceries and spend it on your vacation.

Looking for some help on ways to save on food?  Check these out:

15 Ways to Save on Groceries

How to Save money with Teenagers in the House

Cheap Meals to eat when you are Broke

Only buy necessities

Take a break from purchases that are wants and not needs.  Make a commitment that for a period of time you are only buying necessities.  If you don’t need it, pass on buying it for the time being.  You’ll be surprised at how much you save when you do this.

Sell some household items

Do you have some things you no longer use?  Does it have a lot of life left in it?  Consider selling it.  There are plenty of sites online you can sell it on, or you can go all out and have a yard sale.  The kids can join you and have a lemonade sale to make some vacation spending money.


When I was young we didn’t have the money to take a vacation.  I honestly thought that traveling was only for rich people.  It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20s that I realized even people without a lot of money can take vacations, even if it’s on a smaller scale.  

Since then we’ve made it a point to take family vacations and will probably take vacations as long as we are physically able.  Whether it’s a weekend away at a local cottage, or a place 40 that’s a 40 hour drive, it’s all exciting and it’s all an adventure that allows us to make family memories.

Start saving today for that vacation you’ve always wanted to take.  When it gets tough to stay committed, remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing.  Keep your eye on those long-term goals and before you know it you will be on that vacation with your family that you wanted.


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