According to a study done in 2018, the average cost per person was just over $1,000 when planning vacations. This may be fine if you’re traveling solo, or as a couple, but can become quite expensive for the whole family or a group of people.
Taking family vacations, or traveling with a group, can be a great way to break up your daily routine, and these types of trips have invaluable benefits when it comes to bonding.
But many people hold back because of the money.
So, whether you’re a couple with three kids, dreaming of a Eurotrip with your 5 best girlfriends, or planning a full scale family reunion, the following are our best tips for planning a budget friendly group vacation.
Tips for Planning a Family / Group Vacation on a Budget
#1 Check Out Different Times
Depending on the location of your next vacation, you may be able to save money by going in the off-season.
Traveling as a family / with a group of people can often make this tough, as you might only have a limited window for the trip what with school holidays and other people’s schedules, but you might find that people are willing to change their schedules if it means a big savings.
As much as this is difficult if you’re traveling with school age children, try to avoid traveling during school holidays, as this is often peak tourist season, and costs will be at their highest.
If you’re willing to be flexible enough to perhaps take them out of school for the last week of term, when they won’t miss anything important, or perhaps send them back a week late, you might find yourself saving a lot of money on travel.
When you’re looking for your flights, you’ll be able to find a cheaper deal if you’re flexible with dates and times as well. Tuesday is usually the cheapest day to fly as it’s an inconvenient day for those who plan travel around their work week.
Using the same rule of thumb as above, the cheapest time to fly is the less popular time of the day. Most people don’t want to fly out at the crack of dawn, or stay up past their bedtime, so early and late fares are typically cheaper.
#2 Go Somewhere Else
It’s important on group trips / family travel that everyone traveling be excited about the destination, but a lot of the time, you can find similar experiences in a cheaper, lesser-known area.
Most of the time, the purpose of group / family travel is bonding, strengthening your relationships, and creating shared memories, so if it’s the money that’s stopping you from travel, consider whether your destination really needs to be Paris.
If you’ve always dreamed of a family reunion in the Maldives, but can’t quite afford those over water bungalows, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives; why not try for Fiji, the Whitsundays, or Gili Islands in Indonesia instead?!
There are carbon copies of the best destinations all around the world, and the only difference between the most popular and the lesser known is the name branding.
So, consider going somewhere else – you might even find that your second choice is better!
#3 Look For Bargains
It’s important not to jump in and purchase an expensive set of flights just because Aunt Sue to. Taking time to shop around can save you hundreds of dollars, and even after you’ve decided on a location and time, there can be incredible variations in price.
Once you’ve got the specifics locked in, search online for voucher codes, speak to travel agents, and look for other deals: you never know where you might be able to free up a bit of your budget.
If you’re booking accommodation, call the hotel and see if they can do a better price for you if you have to book in multiple rooms. Sometimes they’ll be happy to negotiate for people traveling in a group. Or, consider options like booking an apartment or house.
Signing up for loyalty programs too is a great way to save money, or, at the very least, earn points which can be put towards your next trip. Airlines, hotels, and credit card companies often have these programs, where you’ll either be rewarded with points, or bonuses like free breakfast / WiFi.
Many membership booking sites too offer bundle deals for members and this can be a fraction of the costs. Just be sure to fully read the details on these; some are only offered during a specific set of days.
#4 Consider Your Transport Options
Transportation costs don’t stop just because you’ve arrived at your destination, and the more people you’re traveling with the more expensive transport on the ground can become; ie if you have to book larger taxis these can be quite costly.
Consider how many people you’re traveling with, whether you’ll be needing transport once you’re at your destination, and whether it will be cheaper in the long run to rent a car, book a mini bus, or go for public transport.
These expenses are commonly overlooked when planning a budget, and especially when you’re traveling with multiple people, the costs can really add up. I mean, why take 2 taxi’s everywhere when you could have rented a car?
Research is key when it comes to transport, as it can end up being one of the most costly aspects of any trip. And you should take into account all of the options available.
For example, instead of flying into your destination, could you fly elsewhere and get a train to your destination for a lower price? Some cities like London can have 5+ airports, so it’s definitely something worth checking.
#5 Get Professional Help
If trying to plan for your group or family is starting to get overwhelming, it’s never a bad thing to consider professional help.
Head down to your local travel agent and you’ll probably find they can help you with fantastic deals. Stressing out before you even leave can ruin a trip and put you in a bad mood, putting a massive dampener on the vacation.
So don’t completely discount hiring a vacation planner, or going through a travel agent if you do need the help.
#6 Come Up With Extra Cash
Coming up with extra cash can be particularly hard before a big trip, especially when we’re often already stretched thin with our time between work and family.
But there are some fantastic ways to save money in your everyday life so that you can afford to travel, and the great thing about traveling as a family / group is that everyone can make the same savings goals and hold each other accountable.
Using coupons for your everyday purchases is a big one, and making a resolution to avoid impulsive, unnecessary purchases (to give yourself the best chance of success with this, go through your inbox and unsubscribe yourself from all marketing emails).
Other ways to cut costs and save money include doing your own cooking as opposed to eating out, reducing your vices (Do you smoke? Drink? Have an addiction to coffee?), and reviewing your cost of living options.
You might be amazed to find just how much you’re spending on unnecessary ‘wants’, which could otherwise be spent on travel. If you’re still short on money there’s the online loans option, however you do need to approach this sensibly.
Read this post about taking out a personal loan to travel.