Are you looking for fun, cheap summer vacations?

Traveling can be expensive, especially if you’re planning a big trip such as traveling a far distance with multiple overnight stays.

When it comes to preparing a travel budget, this can be a little more tricky.

You may think you don’t have any money to travel, and that budgeting for your trip is impossible.

The key to taking a debt-free vacation or trip is determining what you can afford. That means if you can plan your “when” a little farther out so you’ve got more time to save up, you’ll have a fun family goal for everyone to join together for a common (fun) cause.

Keep in mind the expenses that will be waiting for you when you get back such as food and rent. The last thing you want to worry about on vacation is what you have waiting for you when you return.

How to plan a family vacation on a budget can be easy when you take what you’ll be doing and where you will be staying step by step.

The best family vacations on a budget don’t have to cost a lot of money and they can still be fun when you are adventuring together.

Plus, cheap budget family vacations can be great when you look for budget-friendly options

So I’ll show you how you can budget for travel so you won’t go into debt on your next trip! Yep, I’ll help you figure out some cheap summer vacations!

cheap summer vacations

Step 1: Determine How Much You’ll Need

If you’ve traveled to your destination of choice before, you probably won’t have much trouble determining how much you’ll need to have a great cheap summer vacation.

If you are traveling to a new destination, this could get tricky. Ask around to see if anyone you know has been there before, and look at reviews and travel guides for assistance on any extra excursions.

While websites and online research can be helpful, personal recommendations are going to help you answer questions such as cheap entertainment options and an approximate cost of meals.

Ask your friends, family, and neighbors if they know of the area and if there are interesting things to do there.


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

Look for budget-friendly options, free or discounted days at any zoos, museums, and parks.

Looking at all the options can help you come up with an itinerary. From there you can determine your costs, and therefore, a preliminary budget.

Some things to consider to start your cheap summer vacations budget:

  • Travel Costs: Car & gas or plane & fees
  • Lodging: how many nights, average cost, taxes & fees
  • Tickets: cost, taxes, fees & parking
  • Food costs: dining in or dining out?
  • Gas, tolls, parking fees
  • Excursions: tickets, taxes, fees, parking & tips

When you are planning your next getaway, looking at all these costs is how to plan a family vacation on a budget the right way.

Need more help? Here’s how to get your vacation on budget.

If you don’t want to worry about money during your trip, look at these options for a worry-free vacation.

cheap summer vacations

Step 2: Find The Money In Your Budget

If you are living paycheck to paycheck, finding extra money for travel can feel impossible.

The truth is that, in most cases, the money you need for your trip is sitting right under your nose.

Take a look at your current budget. Specifically pay attention to your flexible spending categories such as your grocery, restaurant or clothing categories.

Is there anything you can do to lower these expenses so you’ll have more money to travel?

Can you spare an extra $20 each week? Can you pull an extra $20 bill out every time you go grocery shopping?

Or what about buying a $25 gas card every time you grocery shop. Think of those little extra ways you can make your cheap summer vacations happen without going into debt.

Because the best family vacations on a budget, are the ones you don’t have to use a credit card on!

cheap summer vacations

Step 3: Make Some Money To Add To Your Travel Fund

Once you’ve exhausted finding money in your budget, your next step is to find ways to earn more money. It will make your cheap summer vacations come a whole lot quicker and make it easier on your monthly budget.

You can use your smartphone to make money or look for potential valuables to sell online.

While you don’t necessarily need to take a part-time job, if you have a few minutes or hours to spare to work on a side hustle that could potentially pay for your entire trip.

Check out Fiverr to find some jobs that you can do from home or even Uber Eats. They are easy ways to make some money to add to your travel account.

These extra little jobs can help your cheap budget family vacations happen without going into debt!

cheap summer vacations

Step 4: Start Planning Now

The key to saving up for cheap summer vacations is to start planning as early as you can. The more time you have to prepare the more time you have to save up so you don’t use a credit card.

Planning is the key to making your best family vacations on a budget happen!

If you are planning a big trip to Disney, you can start saving for it even if you haven’t chosen a date yet.

Once you’ve determined how much money you can reasonably put away toward your trip each month, take the total number you have and divide it by the number of months you have until your trip.

For example, if you need $2,000 for a trip to Disney, and you’re leaving in ten months, you would need $200 a month to put toward your travel fund.

Create a fun picture that has your savings goal on it. List the small steps you are going to make to get to that end goal. Display it prominently in a place where everyone in your family can see what you are working towards.

Having everyone on the same page, and seeing your progress to get to the end goal will keep you motivated when the going gets tough.

Check out these tips on Smart Ways To Save for your next vacation.

cheap summer vacations

Step 5: Pay Ahead In Chunks

Once you know where you are going, and you know how much you need, you can start scheduling and paying for your trip.

If you’re going on a road trip to Florida and want to stay in several different places along the east coast, you can book and pay for those places a little each month.

Instead of one large credit card bill, pay for one hotel stay in May, the next hotel in June, and the next hotel in August. That way when you start your trip in September, your hotels are already paid for.

This is one reason why planning well in advance gives you an advantage to saving and paying for your cheap summer vacations without going into debt.

Because cheap budget family vacations, don’t just happen. You make them happen by planning and preparing!

cheap summer vacations

Step 6: Add A Cushion In Your Travel Fund

Cheap summer vacations can sometimes be a little unpredictable. A flight delay could leave you in an airport longer than you expected and even a night or two in a hotel if it becomes even longer. And traffic could throw off your schedule entirely forcing you to eat out one more time than planned.

The worst thing that can happen when you are traveling is that you run out of money before your trip has ended.


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

If you have under-budgeted for something like food, it can ruin your travel budget in seconds. This is why you should always have extra cushion in your travel budget for hiccups along the way.

I suggest planning for your goal, then adding 10% more for the unexpected.

Then, if you don’t spend all you’ve budgeted, you can put it towards your next trip or use it as a bonus for your current month’s budget.

cheap summer vacations

Step 7: Don’t Forget About Returning Home

When you come back, you will still need to eat and drive your car.

If you plan to use your regular gas and food budget to supplement your vacation fund, make sure you have planned for it once you come home. Otherwise, you could come back to an empty wallet and an empty fridge. And that could throw your budget out of whack after all that fun and planning.

We always plan to spend our regular food and gas budget for that week the day after we get back in town. That way we have the money ready to restock the perishables in the refrigerator and replenish the gas tank so we can get back into the swing of our normal day to day activities.

For me, planning and budgeting for cheap summer vacations can be just as exciting as taking the vacation!

As I watch the vacation fund grow, it helps keep me motivated and excited about the trip!

When you learn how to plan a family vacation on a budget, it can be easier to accomplish when you take what you’ll be doing and where you will be staying and budget them step by step.

The best family vacations on a budget don’t have to cost a lot of money and they can still be fun when you are adventuring together.

Plus, cheap budget family vacations can be great when you look for budget-friendly options.

If you struggle with putting enough money away for your trip, or the logistics behind how to budget for your travel, then these tips are sure to help you out!


YOUR TURN: Where do you want to go on your cheap family vacations I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

cheap summer vacations
How To Budget For The Best Family Vacation