Hey there! Need some extra money for your next vacation?
There are lots of ways to save money on travel, but family vacations still cost money. When you need to pay for housing, food, clothes, and other necessities for a family, it can be HARD to save money for a vacation too.
It's a challenge for my family. We have a middle-class income, and as my kids get older they seem to just get more expensive. We love to travel and make memories together, but inflation rises faster than our income. It has been tough to keep our travel dreams on track.
You manage your money. You make travel savings a priority. You look for ways to save money on your vacation. But what if that's still not enough to get your family out the door?
If you are serious about taking that big trip sooner, the answer is to GET MORE MONEY.
Here are a few ideas that have helped my family take more great family vacations. They can add hundreds – or thousands! – of dollars to your vacation budget every year.
Review your subscriptions
Do you really need Netflix and Amazon Prime? I canceled both of them last year. It saves us $25 per month and I don't miss them much. We have cheaper streaming services and we can get them back instantly if we change our mind. And without Prime, I don't make impulse purchases from Amazon.
Keep the subscriptions that you LOVE and use every day. But chances are that you are paying for services you don't use much. Get rid of the dead weight and put that money in your travel fund.
It's a good idea to review your subscriptions, even if you don't cancel. Somehow, my husband and I both signed up for Prime with our separate Amazon accounts and for a while, we paid TWICE for it!
Quit your coffee or soda habit
Here in Utah, soda shops and coffee shops are both popular. My drink at Swig is a Raspberry Dream with Diet Dr. Pepper and light ice, and every time I sit in the long drive-up line, I can tell that I'm not the only one with a “usual” drink order.
Last year, I got into a weekly soda habit at $3-5 per drink. It was adding up, so I cut back. I still treat myself sometimes but cutting back has saved us about $20 per month.
Spend less on lunch
I love eating out. Our restaurant budget is an ongoing challenge because it's part of our lifestyle that we really enjoy, but it's also an obvious place to cut back when we want to save more money.
My friend and I used to go out to lunch every week and it cost me about $50 per month. I suggested that we switch to every other week and now I spend half as much and actually enjoy it more. If we want to visit more often, we can take a walk together instead.
This isn't for everyone, but my college-age daughter makes about $40 per visit when she “donates” plasma to a place like BioLife or Grifols. Paid plasma is generally used for pharmaceutical purposes (not patients). If you are in good health, you can bank some extra spending money for your next trip.
It takes about 60-90 minutes and my daughter usually feels tired afterward. New donors often get big cash incentives to come in once or twice a week in their first month, and then payments level out after that. Payments accumulate in a debit card account connected to the donation center.
Use your tax refund
If you are expecting a tax refund, consider adding it to your travel fund. When my kids were young, our tax refund was usually the main source of money for our summer vacations. We turned it into a lot of great family memories and taught our kids how to travel.
Paying down debt, which reduces your interest payments and increases the amount of money you'll have in the future is also a great way to use your refund!
If you currently have a $2000 balance on your credit card at 12.99% interest, you are paying about $22 per month in interest. Pay that down by $1000 from your refund and you will cut your balance and interest payment in half. That's $120+ that you can add to your travel fund in the coming year… if you keep paying off your balance.
Get a travel job
A “travel” job can help you in two ways – it can add to your travel budget and reduce your travel expenses. I'm guessing that your life is already pretty full, but if you have a few hours to spare, there are some flexible jobs with travel perks.
Here are a few examples:
- My college-age daughter works as a banquet server for a Courtyard Marriott hotel. She only works a few hours a month and the pay is low, but she gets employee discounts at Marriotts around the world. She also takes home extra banquet food and uses the pool and hot tub with her friends anytime.
- My friend works from home for JetBlue customer service. Sometimes the hours or customers are not great, and she flies on standby. But she and her family maximize the perks and they fly for free often.
- I started Tips for Family Trips in 2012 because it was a fun hobby. Gradually, I found ways to earn money and travel perks. And because it's a small business, I write off all our family vacations as business expenses. Running a business is not easy, but it has been a blessing for my family.
There are a lot of things more important than money and family time is one of them. However, if a side hustle works for your family, it can grow your vacation fund faster.
Eliminate credit card debt
Getting rid of your credit card debt is the BEST thing you can do to travel more in the long term. Make it a top priority and it will pay off.
- When you put $1,000 on your credit card at 12.99% interest, you'll pay an extra $10.73 per month until that $1,000 is paid off. If you put your family vacation on a credit card and don't pay it off right away, you'll probably pay hundreds of dollars more than the original vacation cost. That's hundreds that you could have used for your next vacation.
- STOP PAYING INTEREST on your credit cards by paying the balance in full every month. This could take some time and ongoing commitment if you have big balances now. But getting rid of that monthly interest expense will free up money that you can use to travel.
- When you eliminate your credit card debt and pay your bill in full every month, your credit score will go up. When your credit score is high, you'll qualify for the best travel rewards credit cards. My family gets free flights on Southwest and Delta airlines and free hotel nights every year from our travel rewards cards.
- Parents who live debt-free show their kids how to live debt-free. This is a decision that can financially benefit your family for generations.
Make the credit card companies pay you for a change. If you are currently paying interest on your credit cards, make a plan to free yourself from that debt, starting today. A few staycations and local vacations may help you achieve that goal faster.
For most families, money is the biggest obstacle between them and their next vacation. Saving enough money for a dream trip is difficult because there never seems to be enough. If managing your money and traveling the world were easy, everyone would do it.
But you and I are not most people. We can do this.
The good news is that even small adjustments can make a big difference and move you closer to your dream trip. The first three of these ideas saved me about $70 per month, and it wasn't much of a sacrifice. That's $840 per year, which quickly gets bigger if you use it to reduce credit card debt or add it to new income.
I hope that my family's experience can help your family to get more money and take your dream trip sooner. Do you have a great idea to add to this list? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
Very great and thoughtful post!
Thank you, Jenny!
Jana Dover Barlow
As always, this was a great article full of practical advice!