How to Save Money for Family Vacations

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over the years, i've been asked many travel questions:

how do I pack for a family trip, how do I decide where we'll go, how do I keep the kids busy on long flights and train rides, what do we eat, where do we stay.

Without a doubt, the travel question I'm asked the most is: how can I afford family travel?   


I am a mother to three children and travel with my family. here's how I afford travel with Kids:

1. Start with short family vacations

 I know, you've been looking at my instagram feed, and those of your other favorite travel bloggers, and you feel inspired to whisk your children off to some beautiful location for a month or two—or four!  

You want to give them the monumental experience of full cultural immersion, and you want them to walk away with a deeper compassion and love for humankind. 

I get you; you're my people. Not too long ago, I wished the same things for my babies. Due to job schedules and financial restraints, we could only afford to take short family trips to destinations that were close to the United States. I have so many fond memories from these getaways, and they were filled with authentic experiences! 

in the words of one of my favorite preachers, "don't despise the small beginnings!"

 Don’t be discouraged by the extended travel you may see on social media to far-off places; begin to search for travel deals near you. Our first family vacation was a weekend in the Dominican Republic when Ama was three months old; I left the country for the first time at seventeen for a high school trip to Mexico.

Choose budget-friendly countries that are close enough for a short trip and offer a unique cultural experience for your family.

A friend of mine recently found $129rt tickets to Guadalajara, Mexico from Los Angeles. She works full-time and would only have a few days to enjoy Mexico with her family, but this deal was too good to pass up! Guadalajara is about a three-hour flight from LA; it’s a very traditional Mexican city, ensuring  that her family will be immersed in the culture while there.   
— Iliah, Negra Bohemian

 You don't have to wait for that "dream trip" to begin your family's international journey; start small and work your way up to the bigger travels! 



2. I save money for my family travel by budgeting

Budgeting and sacrificing for travel has become a way of life for our family. My "American Dream" revolves around passport stamps and global experiences, which means I have consciously chosen to give up what some may see as necessities in order to save for travel.  

sacrifice is imperative to budget-friendly family travel! 

Think about how easy it is to spend $100 on dinner at a RESTAURANT—all of these outings add up after awhile. I'd rather our family have new stamps in our passports! 

  • If possible, become a one car family. Driving one car, while inconvenient at times, eliminates an extra car and insurance payments- saving you hundreds of dollars each month. Paying for cars in cash is always ideal, but lets be real, not everyone can do that!

  • Cut back on the “extras" such as expensive clothes and makeup and eating out regularly—you'll be surprised how much you can save by doing this.

  • Save on salon visits and nail appointments by learning to maintain your hair on your own. Only get manis and pedis as special treats and buy good nail polish to do them at home!

  • Instead of cable get a Netflix subscription; most cable plans are over $100 per month, while Netflix is only $13.99!

in 2016, i found tickets on easy jet airlines from london to copenhagen for a grand total of $77 for four seats -- all thanks to budgeting



3. Find a side hustle to save for travel

Don’t be ashamed to pick up a side hustle, or two, to save for a vacation—invest in your travel dream!

With the gig economy being as hot as ever, there are numerous ways to earn extra cash to make your wanderlust dreams come true—all in your spare time.

Uber and Lyft

Uber and Lyft are two of the most popular "work when you want to" companies. The logic is simple: you're  a parent now so you're not going out to fancy restaurants and bars on a Friday or Saturday night on a regular basis, so hop in your car and earn some extra cash!

Depending on the market you live in and the hours put in, you could easily make $700 in a weekend just from driving! Postmates, Door Dash, Uber Eats are other examples of ways to earn flexible income by using your car! 


If you're trying to be about that minimalist life, clean out your closet and sell all those extra clothes and shoes that you're not using on sites like thredUP—you never know how much money items you have laying around could make you.

Another advantage of thredUP is that you get to be eco-friendly while earning extra cash—it's a win-win! 

with determination and dedication, the right side hustle can make your travel dream a reality.



4. make money by renting your home on airbnb

Listen to me, friends, your house is a money maker. 

That empty guest bedroom just sitting there waiting for your cousins, suegros and college bffs to pop in for visit, could actually be earning you money to travel!  

The amount of money you can acquire by renting out a spare room or your entire home on Airbnb varies depending on the city you live in. But no matter what part of the country you're in, there's still the potential to earn enough income to fund at least one trip per year.

I started renting my house on Airbnb in February 2018 and have booked over $10,000 in reservations in just a few months!
— Iliah, Negra Bohemian

Yes, you read correctly. Who knew this many people wanted to visit Minneapolis! I've literally turned away thousands of dollars in potential guests because we actually live in this house...and should be here sometimes, right?! 

The cleaning and preparation is stressful; on more than one occasion I've felt as if hard liquor might be necessary  to just get through everything that needs to be done! But when I take this money and my babies and I jet off to Jordan or the South of France or to some other magical places that we want to visit—it will all be worth it!

remember: making travel a priority often means you will be taken out of your comfort zone. learning to be flexible is key!  


5. Get a part-time job at an airline and travel for free

If the wanderlust bug has really bitten you, and you want to travel with your family as much as possible, you may want to consider a part-time job with an airline. 

There are many perks to working at an airline, the main one being free and discounted flights! 

The hourly pay isn't much, but you can't beat flying for free and/or heavily discounted fares. My cousin works at Delta's ticket counter and can fly roundtrip to Japan for $40! My husband is a full-time airline employee and we have greatly benefited from free and reduced travel. Minneapolis gets extremely cold in the winter; there are plenty of weekends when we want to hop on a flight to somewhere warm, and we can... practically free of cost! 

some airlines only require you to work 12-16 hours per month, and you still receive full flight benefits.

If you or your spouse have experience in the tech field, business, finance, project management or even mechanics, consider searching for these types of full-time positions at an airline! The pay is good, health care coverage is provided plus all the same travel perks! 


6. fly LOW COST carriers for great travel deals

I know, you've heard horror stories about low cost carriers and you're too afraid to give them a chance—I urge you to reconsider.

There are just as many people who have had negative experiences on major carriers, as those who have had them on discount ones. Spirit airlines allows you to purchase same-day flights at the counter and pay $20 for the fare—can you really beat that price?

fly an airline to get to your destination, not for an experience.  

View  your flight is a means to an end; your goal is the amazing destination you're going to visit, not an experience on a flight!

Sure, I'd loved to know what it feels like to travel on Emirates, but if my budget calls for Spirit, then on Spirit I will be. 

Remember, don't despise the small beginnings!

Think about it like this: you have to pay to check bags whether you're flying a major airline or discount carrier; you also have to purchase your own snacks on both. If this is the case, then why not pay significantly less for a flight on the discount carrier?

When in Europe, you can also take advantage of low cost airlines such as Easy Jet, Ryan Air, WOW, Transavia, Vueling and Norwegian for great prices! Utilizing these carriers allows you to visit multiple countries while on the continent, thus maximizing your travel experience. 

Last summer during our Europe / Morocco trek, I was able to purchase one-way flights from Barcelona to Sevilla for $30 per person using Ryan Air. We also snatched up $24 fares on Easy Jet going from Marrakech to Milan!
— Iliah, Negra Bohemian

If you're willing to use your flight to simply get to your destination, you will literally open your family up to a whole new world of possibilities! 


living a global lifestyle may look glamorous and easy on social media, but what is rarely seen are the sacrifices made before the breathtaking photos are taken. 

With a little creativity, plus a lot of sacrifice and dedication, you and your family can also experience this amazing wandering life.


How will you save money for travel?


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how to save money and afford to travel with kids - negra bohemian



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