You can plan a cheap family vacation and still have a blast! Here are 12 ways that you can plan and save on your next vacation. Plus a FREE Vacation Planner

How to Afford a 2 Week Family Vacation, Every Year!

Taking vacations has always been something that has been important in our family. We try to get away a few times a year, even if it’s only for a weekend. However, in the last few years, we have managed to take 2-week long family vacations (on a budget). People constantly ask how we manage to make these things happen and the truth is anyone can do it! Here’s the breakdown of how to make this happen for your family!

*This post contains affiliate links through which I may make a commission. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Lower your cost of living

The first piece of advice I can give to you if travel is important to you is to make it a priority by lowering your cost of living.

Ultimately this means finding ways to spend less money each month so that you are able to set more money aside to help fund your travel. 

For our family, this meant a major lifestyle shift by downsizing our house and losing over 2,000 square feet. (Less cleaning for me!)

While our downsize was a pretty big move, there are many things you can do to begin lowering the amount of money you spend each month.

So many people are quick to be turned off by this idea because they see it as depriving themselves of little luxuries. What I’m saying is, choose priorities. Decide which things you want to spend your money on the most!

Research fun, affordable locations

If you are trying to stick to a budget and are bringing the whole family along for the ride, a good idea would be to start looking into affordable locations.

Of course, you can always spring for spendier vacations, like Disneyland, however, that’s probably not money you’re going to be able to spend year after year.

If a more expensive vacation is what your heart is set on, the rest of the steps will still apply to you, of course. But, for those wanting to be able to do this every single year, the biggest recommendation I have for you is to find affordable things in your price range that you’ll still love doing! 10 US Travel Destinations No One is Talking About.


Once you have a location in mind, it’s time to start pre-planning. When I say pre-planning that means getting ideas on cost of flight, gas and car rentals. It means calculating the cost of a hotel or Airbnb. (Save $40 on Airbnb here.)

If you’re going to be buying groceries or going out to eat, make sure you include that in your expenses.

Not sure how much to calculate for food? Go back through your current monthly food expenses. How much do you spend on average when going out to eat?

By paying attention to your current trends you are more likely to make a solid estimate on how much money you will be spending while on your vacation in these same areas.

Whenever we start planning a vacation, I like to have everything written down in front of me. That’s why I included a Vacation Planner in my Fun Sized Budget Bundle. You can snag that printout totally free. Just click here.

Our family of 5 has been able to afford 2 week vacation every year since doing these 10 things! Here's how you can better budget your family vacation!
Click here to snag the printout.

Skimp and splurge

One of the best things to do before planning a big family vacation is to pre-determine what you want to spend on and what you want to splurge on.

For example, maybe going out to eat isn’t as important to you. You’d be fine with cooking most of the meals in your Airbnb. Maybe you wouldn’t even mind sharing an Airbnb with another family to reduce your expenses?

Maybe you’d just camp out of your minivan like our little tribe?

Then again, maybe privacy is extremely important to you and you want to afford a nice place to stay with a good pool so you can skimp on tourist attractions and excursions.

Decide in advance where your vacation spending priorities are so you can feel more at ease with planning our your expenses.

Off-season vs in season

Pay close attention to the benefits of traveling in an off-season! Tom and I were able to take a trip to Nashville for under $1,000 by going in February. The weather was still enjoyable and we were able to skip all of the crowds for the most part!

We have done this for more tropical locations as well. Since our anniversary is in June we’ve saved big money on travel to places like Mexico and the Dominican. We got drizzled on a few times, but didn’t mind one bit.

So when you are deciding on when and where to go, make sure to take a moment to research the best and most affordable times to travel to your particular destination.

Our family of 5 has been able to afford 2 week vacation every year since doing these 10 things! Here's how you can better budget your family vacation!
Fun Sized Travels

Set your savings goal

After adding up travel costs, food, hotel, and excursions, add up your grand total. So many people leave expenses out, or don’t take the time to budget thoroughly for the cost of their vacations that they end up needing to use credit cards to get them through!

To cover your bum, be sure to over-budget and set a realistic savings goal so you are sure to afford your two-week vacation with no stress and no debt.

If you are someone who likes to track and record your savings, there is also a Vacation Savings Tracker included in the Fun Sized Budget Bundle.

Automate savings

Once you have a savings amount in mind, you’ll want to set up automatic savings deposits. We do this through our online CapitalOne360 savings account.

To figure out how much you’ll need to save per paycheck, start with the savings goal amount you calculated. Next, divide that amount by the number of paychecks you have coming before your planned travel date.

For example, if your vacation is exactly one year away and you get paid twice a month, you will receive about 24 paychecks between now and vacay. 

Take your total budgeted amount (let’s say $3,000) and divide it by your number of paychecks (24). 3,000 / 24 = 125. That means you’ll need to automatically save $125 per paycheck in order to reach your $3,000 goal in time! Get started with CapitalOne360.

If this method of saving seems stressful to you, I’ve got some good news!

Our family of 5 has been able to afford 2 week vacation every year since doing these 10 things! Here's how you can better budget your family vacation!
Fun Sized Travels

Include your monthly expenses in your vacation budget

Keep in mind, that if you are planning a longer vacation. Like two weeks or more, you can most definitely include some of that budget money in your vacation spending plan.

If you’re not currently operating with a monthly budget, I highly suggest taking advantage of my Fun Sized Budget Bundle. It comes with a free guide so you can start a simple budget plan right away.

My one piece of advice with this is not to take all of your normal budget money!

For example, we normally spend around $150 per week on groceries. If we were gone for 2 weeks on vacation, instead of budgeting the full $300, instead I’ll have off some and budget $200 for vacation instead.

I do this because before you leave for a long vacation, a good thing to do is completely empty your fridge and pantry! That means when you get back home, you’ll have less food to work with than normal.

So be sure to leave a little grocery shopping cushion for when you return home! Grab the Budget Bundle to get started.

Take advantage of travel discounts

I am slowly working my way into the world of travel hacking and while it is very exciting, I feel like I need to have a love of spreadsheets in order to be successful. BUT, that’s not totally true.

Before I go off on a tangent though, let’s talk about what travel hacking is exactly.

Travel hacking is hacking credit cards to get free things like airfare, hotels, and rental cars.

I got started by just signing up for the DeltaSkyMiles credit card when they offered a $200 discount to join. Use my link for a sign-on bonus.Then I made sure to charge (and pay off) the necessary amount to score their bonus travel points. Doing just this allowed me to travel to Washington DC totally free and get a comped hotel room stay.

If you want to learn more about how travel hacking words, here’s a quick travel hacking guide for beginners.

Our family of 5 has been able to afford 2 week vacation every year since doing these 10 things! Here's how you can better budget your family vacation!
Fun Sized Travels

Generate fun spending money

We’ve talked about budgeting for food and lodging, but what about fun stuff like shopping, souvenirs or maybe a drink here and there?

I’m personally a big fan of doing a little house cleaning before we take off on vacation just to free up a little spare cash for the trip. Having kids in the house always tends to bring in clutter and it’s easier to get rid of some of it when I let them know they can earn their own fun money for the trip!

We’ll list items on Facebook Marketplace, Mercari and sell used books and DVDs at the local used book store.

It might not bring in a ton of cash but an extra hundred never hurt anyone, am I right?

Put your vacation budget on a card

To help you stick to a budget and easily keep track of your spending, I recommend getting a Cash App account or taking advantage of the PayPal debit card.

Cash App works similarly to PayPal and Venmo in the sense that you can transfer and receive funds from people. However, with the Cash App debit card you can easily transfer money and then keep track of how much money you have left with the app on your phone!

It makes sticking to a vacation budget super easy. Instead of having to calculate and track all of your purchases, you just log onto the app to see how much money you have left in your budget!

BONUS – The Cash Card through Cash App also gives you discounts when you use it. Like $1 off coffee anywhere and $1 off Lyft rides! Sign up now.

This app can also be used to transfer money to friends and family and when you send your first $5,  Get $5 to get started!

Our family of 5 has been able to afford 2 week vacation every year since doing these 10 things! Here's how you can better budget your family vacation!
Fun Sized Travels

Learn to make income on the road

Alright, so let’s save the best for last! My personal favorite way to help my family afford these 2 week vacations every year is by making an income while we’re on the road.

No, this doesn’t mean I spend the entire vacation working!

It means I’ve learned how to make passive income online while setting my own hours and working from anywhere in the world! Learn how to make your first $1,000 online.

There are multiple ways to make passive income through things like house hacking, credit card hacking, simple investing and of course, blogging!

Having an income that you can run completely from a laptop isn’t only a major movement right now (#laptoplifestyle) it’s also an incredibly freeing opportunity that allows you to work on location from anywhere in the world!

I hope all of these ideas gave you some great starting off points for how to make 2-week vacations possible for you and your family!

Be sure to follow our family’s travel adventures on Instagram!

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  1. Renee, this is a GREAT post! Thanks so much for the helpful tips! Definitely going to be making use of these for the vacation my husband and I are taking this spring so we can do travel on the cheap without diminishing the fun. 🙂 Thanks again!

  2. I would definitely say my sister is the most travel-savvy person in the family. She always tells me to travel in the off-season because prices will be cheaper.

  3. Renee I will definitely be using your vacation budget printout when I take my very first Baecation in January. We plan to go to the Bahamas and definitely do not want to spend tons of money. Thank you for all your tips and advice on how not to go broke while on vacay!

    1. So glad it could be helpful! The vacation printout is definitely extremely helpful for us to get a good budget set!

  4. Great article! I definitely agree with you that there’s so much to see and do in the US. We like to think of things in our state or just do something a bit out of the ordinary. I’m into party styling so I make holidays special for my kids and they seem to enjoy it.

    1. That sounds so great! Those are definitely the things they will remember the most!

  5. Great tips! Traveling is one of the most amazing things, but so many people feel limited because they can’t afford it. I hope this helps people out!

    1. Thanks so much Nicki! I think you can still definitely take advantage of some stuff if you’re single!

  6. I love your ideas here! I love traveling and getting to adventure together, we will be putting some of these into practice!

  7. Great tips, thanks! I agree about the off-season, wherever possible! Now it’s got me thinking of planning another 🙂

  8. Helpful tips. I like the “Sundays are usually the most expensive day to fly” one. We try to stay with friends or family along the way, to save costs on a road trip.

  9. Great ideas here! Too often we focus on the “big” vacation and when something comes up you just can’t swing it, a lot of folks end up not taking a vacation at all. Planning for smaller vacations more often is a great idea and will create so many more memories! Thanks for the tips!

    1. Ugh yes…I have done the vacation and then come home to more debt. It’s really not all that great. Most of it was debt from $4 Starbucks!

    1. Oh yes! I definitely get that! We have only gone off season so I think we’ve been spoiled for sure!

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