Kovar Capital: Affordable Family Vacation Hacks


Hi Taylor - Even though everything costs too much, my family still wants to go on some kind of vacation this summer. Do you have any tips for traveling without breaking the bank?

Hey Kylie - I was looking at plane tickets the other day and had to walk away from the computer to calm down. It is NOT a cheap time to travel, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of options. My family and I did a ton of traveling last year (all 50 states!), and I learned a lot about making a dollar go as far as possible.

1.) Pick your spot. Shockingly, you need to know where you’re going before you go there. That’s pretty obvious, but you really need to have some time to learn about the area/plan what you’ll do in order to avoid the spending traps. Since the goal of your trip is fun on a budget, you might start by checking out any airfare deals that will get you to your destination at a discounted rate. This can mean letting the price of airfare determine where you go. A lot of people just hold their noses and buy expensive flights, leaving themselves little spending room once the vacation starts. If you’re going to fly, set a spending limit and don’t go above it. If you can’t find flights within that threshold, pull out a map and see where you might want to go in the car!

2.) Food. Doesn’t matter where you end up, you’re gonna have to eat. It might seem ridiculous, but I fully support a trip planned entirely around food. If you get a $100 flight to a place where every meal costs $50 per person, you won’t end up saving that much money. Some areas/types of cuisine cost a lot, and some places cost more or less, depending on the season. If you do end up driving, the snacks you pack can save you hundreds of dollars. If you stay in a hotel, a good continental breakfast will get you at least one free meal (two if you time it right). Dining out is part of the fun of vacation, but it adds up so fast and leads to a lot of buyer’s remorse when the bill arrives. Hot dogs, tacos, and some healthy pre-packed snacks can make all the difference.

3.) Google obsessively. Last-minute decisions almost always cost more than plans made in advance. Once you know where you’re headed, learn everything you can about the area. Find out free activities for the family, see where the cheapest gas station is, read restaurant reviews, and make sure you know when places are open. You don’t have to map out every second of your vacation before you leave, but you should do some serious planning each night so the next day doesn’t turn into a series of expensive missteps.

Sometimes it feels impossible to have fun and save money at the same time. If you get creative enough, I promise it can be done. Have a great summer, Kylie!