How to Budget for Your Family Vacation

There is no getting around the fact that a family vacation is going to set you back some money. How well you plan and budget your funds will have a significant effect on what your bank account looks like when you return home. Here are five ways that you can budget for your family vacation with confidence.

Decide on Your Destination

The biggest influence on your vacation budget will be the destination. You cannot begin to estimate a budget without deciding on the destination first. Be sure to price out a few different destinations, taking into account all aspects of the vacation, before you make your final selection. While one place may be less expensive to get to, you may negate those costs once you pay for lodging, food, and entertainment costs.

For example, a theme park vacation may be convenient from your home. However, you will likely pay a premium for park tickets, souvenirs, and onsite dining. Conversely, traveling to a place like Washington, DC may be more expensive in transportation costs, but your entertainment dollar will likely stretch much farther since so many attractions are free of cost to visit.

Budget for Transportation

After you have your destination in place, it is time to figure out your transportation budget. The biggest influence on this cost will be the size of your travel party. Clearly, traveling by airplane may be more cost-effective with a smaller group. If you are traveling with a large family, you will likely find that it is more affordable to travel by car.

In addition to the transportation to get to the destination, you need to budget for how you are going to get around once you get there. If you do not have your personal vehicle, you will need to set aside money for ground transportation. Leaning on public transportation will most always be the least expensive option if it is available.

Save Money on Lodging

Regardless of where you travel, the lodging costs will likely be a significant part of your budget. If you are looking to save money on your travel, you would be wise to look for hotel deals that will reduce this budget line item in order to lower the overall cost of your vacation. You can then take that money and direct it toward special experiences during the course of your trip.

You do not have to spend a fortune on lodging to enjoy a wonderful vacation. Rather than going for that all-inclusive resort, consider thinking outside of the box to find your accommodations. For example, there are many campsites in Pennsylvania that offer a premium lodging experience without the premium price tag.

Consider Dining

Your food costs during the trip are one area that affords you some flexibility. You can use this part of your budget to splurge or use it as an item to cut back on to save money. If you are looking to save money, booking a condo with a kitchen can help you to avoid spending a lot of money dining out.

Booking a hotel with a free breakfast is another way to slash your budget. It also helps to eat your main meal of the day during lunch hours rather than having to use the more expensive dinner menu.

Saving Money Prior

Once you have the budget settled, you can begin brainstorming ways to stay under costs. Saving up a little at a time is the best way to put away the money that you need prior to your departure without it being a big blow to your wallet.

You can also consider buying gift cards periodically that you can use during your vacation. For example, if you know that you will want to splurge on your daily caffeine fix away from home, you can stockpile coffee shop gift cards. Having some of your expenses pre-paid before you even leave will deliver a big benefit to your overall trip cost, allowing you to stay under budget.


While it is never fun to have to consider your budget situation, doing so well ahead of your trip will mean that you can focus on the fun that you are having with your family on this new adventure.

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