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How We Afford Family Travel

How my family affords to travel (and how you can too)

I’ve been getting a fairly personal question from friends and family quite a bit lately,  they want to know “how we afford family travel so often?”

The question is not always so tactful. Many times it seems more like an accusation and is often phrased: “How much does your husband make?”, “What does your husband do that allows you to spend all this money and time on travel?” or “Where do you get all your money?”

Questions like this always make me uncomfortable and usually I give a flippant “We don’t spend as much as you think” kind of response in an attempt to shut up the accuser or questioner. I do know that sometimes people are genuinely curious, not because they want to judge us for how we spend our money (yes, this happens), but because they want to know how they too can afford to travel.

For the most part, my husband has worked a modest job and been the sole bread winner in our family for the better part of the past 20 years. I do on occasion contribute with freelance work or filling in for one of the women at the office where my husband works. Since we don’t count on that money to pay our bills, we instead save my checks and put them towards travel expenses.

In addition to mentioning some of the things that we do to save for travel, I’ll share things that we don’t do which allows us to save for travel.

1. We don’t go into debt. This is easier said than done and honestly, we learned the hard way that a debt filled life is not ideal.

2.We no longer drive the latest and greatest car.  Actually, at this moment, though we aren’t a one vehicle household, I don’t have a car of my own. Earlier this year, I decided I’d rather travel than purchase a big ticket item like a new-to-me used car. (Update: We found a deal too good to pass up and purchased a minivan for $1800. It’s been great and we’ve driven it out of state several times.)  

3. Prioritize. Make choices. We can’t afford to travel and have everything else we want too. That means there are some “wants” that we simply do without. As much as I’d love a new iPad, or camera lens, which I could so justify, I want that memory building trip to Florida with my family a little bit more.

4. I have learned to shop resale not retail. That means clothes and home decor. I often shop resale, consignment stores, thrift stores, flea markets and antique stores before I step foot in a retail store. This doesn’t mean that resale is always the most desirable way to go, which leads me to Number Five on my list.

5. I rarely if ever, pay full price for anything and that includes entertainment and travel. I can’t say that we are always frugal minded when considering where we want to go. Our trip to Alaska, was not a cheap vacation, but we did save over $1000 by booking our travel arrangements as part of a group.

I also remember that everything goes on sale. Sometimes you just need to be patient to snag the best deal.

6. I try to cut back on our grocery budget by using coupons or shopping during sales. I have to admit that while I lack the ability to be great at extreme couponing, I do shop sales, buy local produce and try to provide the best meals for my family for less.

7. Sometimes we just need to say no. We don’t travel everywhere that we’d like to go. When my husband and I celebrated our anniversary this past July, rather than spend the money for a trip to the Hudson River Valley in upstate New York, we chose a wonderful location close to home. This saved most of the $1500 we’d budgeted for our trip away, which allowed us to take smaller trips close to home as a family- like our spur of the moment trip to Niagara Falls.

8. I sell what I don’t want/no longer need. We don’t have a perfect location for a garage sale and honestly, they seem like a huge amount of work on what could be very little return. Instead, my husband and I opt to sell unwanted items on Craigslist. I’ve even sold a few pieces at a local pawn shop.

9. I don’t make impulse buys. I never buy anything without first asking my husband’s opinion. Some woman may find this restrictive, I don’t. My husband never tells me no if it’s something I really want and my mother-in-law can’t understand why I even ask,  but he does help me to avoid those spur of the moment impulse buys that I often regret.

Have you found these tips helpful? You may enjoy the following money saving posts:

Reciprocal Memberships: Are they Really Worth It?

Get More Bang for your Buck: Hotel Savings

Stay your Way to Free Nights

Finding Free Attractions

Three Ways to Save Money on Family Travel

Do you love to travel with your family? How do you manage to set money aside to travel?

This post is linked to Travel Tip Tuesday with Walkingon Travel and Suitcases and Sippycups.


Friday 8th of April 2016

Love the colours in the photos. Some good tips, especially the one about bringing something to trade. Would never have thought of that.


Thursday 2nd of April 2015

I love how you gracefully answered this difficult question. I totally am a sale shopper too and I'm trying to cut down on impulse buys.


Thursday 2nd of April 2015

Living in a motorhome really helped me when it comes to impulse buys- but I'm not entirely cured. ;) That's still a difficult one for me, though I'm getting better. Baby steps, right?


Thursday 2nd of April 2015

When I was growing up, even though my dad had a "good" job, my bought our clothes thrift and resale, she didn't redecorate the house, we didn't always have the latest and greatest electronics, we didn't have an over abundance of toys, and our Christmas and birthdays were modest. I appreciate now all of those "sacrifices" they made and the gift of travel and exploring our world that they gave us. Trying to reprioritize our lives now to make travel more possible with our kids. Thanks for sharing your story!


Thursday 2nd of April 2015

Thanks, Kathy. Reprioritizing can be difficult and definitely takes time, but it is so worth it. I also like to remind people that travel doesn't need to be far away, and a higher price tag doesn't necessarily mean a better experience. Good luck on reaching your travel goals. :)

Joie Betterly

Monday 30th of March 2015

AMEN! I agee with all your points. Being a blogger helps and we can sometimes get screamin' deals but you have to be ready to drop and go.

My husband and I both work hard even if I am JUST a blogger and we help the kids whenever possible (1 is in college, 1 is graduating, and 1 in middle school). We don't have debt, except our mortgage, we pay cash for cars and this sometimes takes a lot of saving and many moms who look down upon my non beater but older car.

I grocery shop carefully and sometimes we just have to make do.

Awesome article!


Wednesday 1st of April 2015

Thanks Joie. Don't say you're "just" a blogger! I know how difficult it is to balance demands and run a household. ;) You're right, our job does allow for amazing perks, but with those discounts or comped stays come even more work. It can be pretty taxing.

Where there's a will to travel, there's a way, right? :)

Mary Hitchings

Sunday 29th of March 2015

We've started making travel plans for holidays and birthdays instead of spending money on gifts and parties. We've been doing this for awhile now and each year when we ask my kids what they want for their birthday, their response is usually a destination.


Wednesday 1st of April 2015

I think that's a great idea and wish it would work for us. When our kids were little, we traveled so much with my husband's job that the last thing they wanted to do was travel. lol Now that they are older and have jobs of their own, I could see that becoming a nice way to celebrate special occasions. Protection Status
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