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How to Plan and Save Money for a Family Vacation

Family vacations create some of the best memories you and your loved ones could ever experience together. You should never feel like your finances are holding you back from the best family vacation experience.  Fun and joy truly don’t cost a thing but they will cost you if your finances aren’t prepared for your next vacation. Your fun and joy could also come to end when you return from your vacation if you’re not protecting your identity and credit with IdentityIQ.

Five Family Travel Tips 

If you’re new to Credit & Debt, then you probably haven’t seen all of our videos or read all of our personal finance-building blogs. If so, you’ve already missed out on everything you need to know about building a budget for your next vacation. But don’t worry, just click this link to catch up on what you need to know! Once you’ve caught up or if you already know about our free vacation budget worksheet, then you can apply everything you now know towards your family travel hacks.

A family vacation can also be expensive! If you’re worried about the debt you’ll accumulate on vacation, or worried that your current debt is keeping you from going on vacation, then call a Credit & Debt coach. They’ll help you find the solution to get rid of your current debt or help prevent you from increasing it by building up your finances for free! But before you do all that, here are five family travel tips that will help you and your family save money on vacation.

  1. Build a budget: Identifying and understanding your financial limits on your family vacation can help you better predict and expect the kind of vacation you’ll be having. Estimate the total amount of money you’d want to spend, break down all of your expenses into categories and activities, then identify what costs need to be cut or expanded so you and your family can enjoy your vacation. Keep track of your vacation budget with our printable worksheet, it’s free. 
  2. Pack light: Save money on baggage fees by not overpacking. You won’t be taking your big bags to the beach, you’ll be leaving them at the hotel. Follow these packing tips for a family vacation; Only pack what you need and budget to buy things you may want along the way. Use vacuum-sealed bags to get the most out of your luggage. Pack item similarity not by individual person.

IdentityIQ Protection Tip: Be sure to mark and lock your bags. A family vacation may mean multiple bags to keep track of. We recommend keeping items that contain your personal information such as your ID, passport, and credit cards, in your carry-on, or on your person while you travel. This way, it is easier for you to keep track of their location, and help protect against identity theft

  1. Go to free events: Planning activities and events for you and your family to do while on vacation can get expensive. With that being said, keep a look out for free events. Many local art and historical museums will have designated free days once a month or even once a week. This will give you something to do to keep you and the family from boredom during the time between financed activities.
  1. Use public transportation: Getting around from A to B on your family vacation can be an unexpected hole in your budget. Renting a car can be more convenient but with gas prices increasing and changing daily, your budget can take a dive before your eyes at the gas pump. Public transportation isn’t just the cheaper alternative but it’s also a more concrete rate to estimate your budget.

IdentityIQ Scam Tip: When you and your family rely on public transportation on your vacation, you may run into situations where getting a Lyft or Uber may be more convenient. Look out for these common ride-share scams:

  • The driver asks for more money for tolls or a long ride.
  • The driver charges you for costs you don’t owe, such as cleaning up messes that never occurred.
  • Getting charged for the ride, but the driver did not show up. 
  • The driver requests personal information like asking to verify your ID by seeing your driver’s license. 
  1. Book Airbnbs: Traveling with the family on vacation usually means you’ll be booking quite the big party size. Instead of booking multiple hotel suites in order to room your entire family, look into Airbnbs. They can be more spacious and accessible for your family’s needs. Plus, you’ll have a kitchen to cook your own meals so you can save expenses on food throughout your vacation. 

Family Travel Fund Tips

Before you go on vacation with your family you’re going to want to curate a family travel fund. Saving up for a vacation or using money from your savings can either be tough or stressful. After you build your budget you’ll have a better idea of how to save money for a family vacation. 

IdentityIQ Credit Tip: Once you’ve built your budget and saved the money for your family travel fund, continue to keep track of your expenses as they happen along your trip. It’ll make it easier for you to review your credit report afterward and see if there are any suspicious charges that caused you to go over budget. 

To help you save money before going on your next family vacation, skip the family travel specialist and use these three travel hacks for families in order to boost your vacation budget. 

  1. Pre-plan your itinerary: If you pre-plan your itinerary before your next family vacation and start scheduling ASAP, you can plan the events around services that offer cost-saving deals. If you’re traveling with kids, don’t underestimate places or events where kids get to experience for cheap or for free. 
  1. Unplug your electronics before you go on vacation: You can save money on your energy bill if you unplug your TV, kitchen appliances, lamps, fans, and phone chargers on your way out the door. A bonus tip, since you shouldn’t necessarily unplug your refrigerator, is to freeze your leftover fruits and vegetables. 

IdentityIQ Identity Tip: Before you go on vacation, you want to make sure you’re protecting your identity as well… Thieves can steal your mail while you are on vacation, which can lead to identity theft. Your mail sometimes contains your personal information such as your name, address, account numbers, and more. To help prevent mail theft, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to get your mail daily while you’re away. 

Don’t miss out on any recurring bill payments either when you’re on your family vacation. Being away from home you can easily get out of your routine and miss paying the electric bill you cut costs for. When you sign up on you can use Money Sensei Insights for free! Then you’ll be able to see a feed of all of your financial transactions and be alerted if you have an upcoming payment or suspicious financial activity. 

  1. Start your vacation two weeks early: Start budgeting, spending, and pretending like you’re already on vacation. Have a set budget in mind, keep track of your expenses, and unplug the electronics that you won’t need to immediately use. So when you’re on vacation you’ve already developed the financial habits and saved a little along the way. 

Cheapest Way to Travel Cross Country with Family

If you’re thinking about traveling cross country with family, the cheapest way to do so is to do so strategically. Just like everything else, you’re going to want to build a budget and to help you prepare we’ve already provided the best printable budget worksheet available for free. To book strategically for your family vacation, you should either book vastly in advance, look for last-minute vacancies or travel during the off-season. 

IdentityIQ Scammer Tip: When looking for cheap tickets to buy for travel or events, remember to never buy anything at a price that is too good to be true! This is usually a sign of a ticket scam.

When you budget travel with family on vacation, consider all aspects of your budget as well. You may find that it costs less to rent a car and pay for gas than to buy a flight from California to New York. Still, you should consider the hotels or motels you’ll stay overnight at along the way. The money you save from road tripping could provide those expenses so be mindful of them as you prepare your budget.

Can a Family of 5 Stay in One Hotel Room?

The biggest scam of them all is how hotels will charge you additional fees or force you to book an additional room if you have a large number of people on your family vacation. If you’re asking, “Well, can a family of 4 stay in one hotel room?”, more times than none, you can. However, if you’re a family of 5 or more, you’ll have to check with the hotel, but most likely you’ll have to book a family room. When staying at a hotel or even a motel, you have the possibility of receiving rewards based on your credit card provider. 

Your credit card shouldn’t be relied upon to finance your vacation but if you stay within your budget, using a rewards credit card can help maximize your daily vacation expenses. On top of that, you’ll build your credit score when you pay off your vacation on time. So if you think a rewards card would benefit your next family vacation, visit for free and check out all of the credit card options we have offered.

Once again, if you’re traveling with a big family on vacation, look into Airbnb. Many provide accommodations similar to the ones you’re familiar with at home. There can be more comfortable and spacious housing options that will make you and your family feel like your vacation is your reality. They can be a cheaper option despite some of the more expensive amenities of a hotel. 

IdentityIQ Rental Scam: Commonly people will host their vacation rentals for Airbnbs all the time, so there are many options suited for the perfect vacation location. However, before you book, make sure it’s not a scam. Check out the video we filmed for our channel to learn more about common vacation rental scams!

Before You Go

Going on a family vacation ultimately isn’t about where you go, what you see, or what you pay for. It’s about spending quality time with your loved ones. You should never let your finances get in the way of doing just that. Before you go on your next vacation, build a budget, start saving before and after you leave, and don’t go over budget. Keep an eye out for identity and credit theft by avoiding the scams mentioned above. You get to use IdentityIQ services free for 90 days when you sign up on 

Abigail Masterson

financial coach with clipboard

Get financial freedom! Talk to a financial coach for free!