Travelling On A Budget With Family

JoFamily Life, Travel

I love travelling. I have a real sense of wanderlust and an almost constant itch in my feet to get going on our next adventure. I don’t travel very much though, or certainly haven’t since I’ve had children. Yes, packing up suitcases for the entire family is not something that fills me with any particular amount of joy, but mostly the barrier is the cost. It’s not easy juggling the travelling dreams of a family of 5 whilst keeping the bank balance happy.

I’ve written before about taking my family abroad. This is not new news, but it has still not happened. In part related to the big B that’s hanging over the UK economy at the moment, but also because the amount of research to find the most cost effective option available is taking some time. Have I got there? Not yet. I have, though, made some progress towards finding the balance between the urge to explore and my available finances. And, of course, I am happy to share!



It goes without saying that a little research into the specifics of where you want to visit can go a long way before you set off. So too can being prepared in other areas. Write and rewrite lists of the basic things you will need – clothes, books, maybe a few toys – but don’t forget to check what else you are allowed to take into the country you’re travelling to. Some countries have restrictions on food for example, but if there aren’t any then consider cramming some snacks into your luggage. This might just save a few pennies when you first get there and the children declare that they don’t feel as though they’ve eaten for weeks!

Ayse from Coffee & Cwtches adds that going to a supermarket when you’re there helps to look after the pennies:

“Go to a supermarket and stock up so you can take snacks when you go out and you’re
not stuck paying loads on the day.”


Lianne from Ankelbiters Adventures agrees and adds,

“Buy loads of breakfast things like croissants, pancakes etc that have a good date that you
can have as a quick breakfast in the hotel before going out.”


Alana from Baby Holiday says:

“We take bottled water and the little squeezy bottles of squash to save buying drinks.
On our recent holiday, drinks cost between €3 and €3.50, but we filled up at public
water fountains and made squash.”


Another tip from Sarah at Champagne & Petals is to make sure you pack that all important, versatile entertainment:

“We always take mini games with us, to use on the plane but also while having dinner
to keep the kids entertained but also away from their iPads!”



I completely agree with this. I almost always have Dobble at the bottom of my bag, and Scattergories and even Snap! fit in well too and are great for playing at restaurants when you’re waiting for your order to arrive.


Greta Thunberg has demonstrated that you don’t always have to look to aeroplanes to cover off the miles. Boats (maybe ferries for families!) are fun and often mean that you can take your own vehicle. From the UK you can hop on the Eurotunnel too, which saves the expense of hiring a car and car seats when you get overseas. For longer journeys when travelling with a young family though the familiarity, ease and speed of air travel can make a difference to pre-holiday jitters.

For flights, booking in advance almost always means that you can take advantage of great offers. If you’re pushed for time or the idea of shopping around gives you brain ache, sign up for Jack’s Flight Club. Flights to New York for around £200 return? Yes please! They have some amazing deals and might just lead to spontaneous holiday destinations too.



Although I’d heard about it for years, I was finally introduced to staying in an AirBnB home earlier this year by friends, and I have quickly come to realise how easy and cheap this is as an accommodation option. Cath from Passports and Adventures agrees and says:

“We stay in AirBnB’s so we can cook for ourselves. It also allows us to make packed
lunches to keep our food bill down even more.”


Liona from Travels With Ted adds that her tips to keep costs down are:

“… going self-catering, including making packed lunches, walking and using
public transport and finding the best free attractions.”


Don’t forget my previous post about Groupon who offer great deals on places to stay. Alternatively I have found previously that booking directly with a hotel can also keep costs down, with bonus points if you can book over the phone using the local language.

Things to do

I have written before about days out for free and keeping your bank balance happy that way. This can be applied to any destination. Take a look, for example, at these free things to do in Boston from Maria.

Jodie from Tightwad Mama suggests the following:

“Check out the local transport (hotel reception are usually very helpful with timetables etc)
and take a bus to explore somewhere different for the day. We usually get a day return
ticket so we can explore different areas without having to pay lots of fares!”


Or Janet from Falcondale Life has some great ideas for adventures when you’re there:

“A beach day is cheaper than a theme park. A local village playground is always fun
to explore. Nature trails and sculpture trails are often free. Get a bit of culture looking
round an ancient church. Go to a viewpoint with binoculars, map and compass to see
what you can see. Budget just for parking and afternoon ice-cream!”


Helena from Live Laugh Go! agrees:

“Find free places to visit or get outdoors which is usually free!”


Eileen from Your Money Sorted adds to that with her top tip:

“Don’t buy the daily ice creams at an ice cream shop! Go to the nearest supermarket
and buy a box of lollies instead and you will save a fortune.”


Penny from Penny Travels reminded me of one of my favourite things to do, Geocaching! She has a super post on geocaching for beginners here. If you haven’t tried it you must!

Nikki from Yorkshire Wonders adds:

“Sign up to the local deals site (if you are going to an area that has them). I am
thinking Groupon and Wowcher, that sort of thing. You can get great deals on
days out and meals that way.”


So there you go! Not so daunting as it might seem at first and entirely possible to manage within a tight budget.

If you would like to take a look at more ideas, check these out!

Family Holidays on a Budget from Meme and Harri


Geneva on a Budget from Travels With Ted:


How Much Our 3.5 Week USA Road Trip Really Cost from Live, Laugh, Go!:


What would you add? What do you do to keep costs down when travelling with your family? Let me know in the comments below!


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