How to Plan a Family Vacation on $30,000 A Year

How to Afford Family Vacation Travel on $30,000 A Year

family vacation

Summer days are fast approaching and I’m already anticipating the kids’ cries of “Mom!  We’re bored!”  In an attempt to prevent that from happening this year, we started planning our family vacation the day after school started in the fall.  You might ask why we start planning the family vacation so early.  It’s simple … we live on a $30,000 a year budget and have to carefully plan luxuries such as vacations in order to stick to that budget.

First Steps to Planning a Family Vacation

The first step to planning a family vacation is to have a family meeting.  Everyone has their own ideas when it comes to where we will go and what we will do on our family vacation.  This year Bubba wants to go fishing, Sissy wants to swim and tan and Missy just wants to have fun.

Over the years, we’ve discovered there are so many places to vacation within a two or three-hour drive from our home.  Instead of spending days in the car getting to and from our chosen vacation location or paying airfare for the five of us, we choose vacation spots which we can get to quickly and settle in for family fun time.

Plans Come Together

Once we decide on a location, we involve the whole family in planning what we will do.  All of this has to be within our budget.  After all, we, as parents, still have to pay for the family vacation!  That doesn’t mean the kids can’t help though.

Finding affordable accommodations for the five of us can get a little tricky but is not impossible.  The earlier we book, the less expensive it tends to be. The only two “must-haves” for hotel stays are an indoor swimming pool and free continental breakfast.  Vacation home rentals save us more money because we cook most of our own meals but plan (and budget for) at least one or two special meals out.

How Will We Pay for Family Vacation?

We have come up with some creative ways to squirrel away extra money to cover the cost of our family vacation.  Here are a few of them:

  • Dedicate a Specific Amount to Fun:  We follow the 52 Week Savings Plan as part of our regular budget.  Setting aside 25% of those funds in a separate family vacation account amounts to $344.50.

    Savings ChallengeSavings Challenge: 52 Week Savings Plan

  • Pick Up Extra Shifts:  My husband’s biggest contribution is picking up an extra shift at work when they are available.  We can generally count on this adding another $750 to the family vacation fund.
  • Kids Can Contribute:  A certain amount of the family vacation budget is allocated for each child to buy one or two souvenirs.  This is usually set at $10-15 per child.  Anything over that is the child’s responsibility to save up.  We encourage our children to save a portion of any gift money they receive and any money they earn doing jobs around the neighborhood.

    Get Kids to Save MoneyGet Kids to Save Money: Jobs Kids Can Do

  • Rebates:  Any money earned through rebate programs such as Ibotta and Ebates are added to the vacation fund.
  • Side Work:  A portion of the money I earn from writing blog posts is added to the vacation fund.

    frugal ways to saveFrugal Ways To Save Money

  • Birthday/Holiday Gifts:  Our extended family knows we live on a very tight budget.  Instead of buying something for us which will sit on a shelf, they give us gift cards for chain restaurants and gas stations.

A great deal of work goes into planning a family vacation.  Substantially more effort goes into it when you’re living on $30,000 a year and fancy vacations are not part of that budget.  We’ve made it work.  I know you can too!

Also, check out our other travel tips

How To Afford Family Vacation On $30,000 A Year
Quick Tips on Packing for Vacation with Kids
Family Vacation Travel on a Budget

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Mary

I work as a real estate paralegal at a family-friendly law firm. Raised in the suburbs of Washington, DC, I graduated from UVa and met my husband, Mike, in our hometown of Alexandria, VA. Fourteen years ago, we took a leap of faith and moved our family out of the rat race to a small, rural community near Charlottesville, VA. Mike is my "OOH RAH man" and career real estate broker who is now enjoying life on a bucket list. We have three children, Bubba, (who married the girl of his dreams), Sissy, and Missy (now an "only" child). In the last few years, we've been blessed with two grandchildren (a girl and a boy). I love a bargain and have gained a reputation over the years for being quite the "coupon queen."

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