This Family Travel Budget Helps Our Family Travel World Wide. Here's How.

Updated: Jun 1

As a family of 7, having a realistic family travel budget is crucial to actually plan our best family vacation on a budget! After creating (and using repeatedly) a budget calculator travel worksheet to help me plan and STICK TO traveling on a budget with family, I wanted to share it with our readers! This post is going to walk you through HOW I plan our family travel world wide- from our overall vacation calculator to unexpected travel expenses!

Lathrop Family In Vatican City, Rome, Italy | Family Travel Budget For Family Travel World Wide | Lathrops Gone AWOL Family Travel Blog
Our big ole family at the Vatican City in Rome, Italy!

There's no math needed for this post, don't worry. Just grab a cuppa coffee and let's break down how we do our family travel budget! 😊

Also, I want to mention something important:

Since we've been doing this family travel world wide thing for a couple of years now (and I am a sucker for a good spreadsheet!), I've created a clever but simple vacation calculator to help me see how much any trip will actually cost and budget accordingly. You can see it and download it for free below!

Okay, on to the good stuff!

Family Travel Budget Tip #1: Where/When/How

Make sure your family travel budget is actually maximizing your budget by balancing affordable travel times and locations.

The first thing we do any time we want to take a trip or vacation, is figure out three things, which can drastically affect your traveling on a budget with family.

The first three questions to ask when making a family travel budget are:

  • WHERE in the world do we want our family to visit?

  • WHEN are we going? (What time of the year do we want to travel?)

  • HOW are we going to get to our family vacation destination?

When planning any trip, I check to make sure that the time of year we want to travel isn't super expensive for transportation costs, hotel or AirBnB costs.

Summer and Spring Break travel tends to be expensive, so family cheap holidays aren't the easiest, but that's often the only time we have to travel! If you're stuck traveling during these 'peak travel times' that's totally okay! We're right there with you, taking advantage of summer.

Check sites like,, Google Flights, etc. to see an estimate of these costs.

(PS- I have a whole post coming soon about how we manage traveling on a budget with family specific travel hacks, so sign up for our newsletter to read that once it's published!)

Once I narrow down WHERE we're going, WHEN, and HOW we are getting there, I add these to my budget calculator travel worksheet and move on.

Family Travel Budget Tip #2: Munching Costs Money

The next big expense I usually try to figure out is the food costs. Since we're a big family, restaurants and grocery expenses usually make up a fair amount of our budget for family travel.

Baby Larry with Ice Cream Snack | Family Travel Budget For Family Travel World Wide | Lathrops Gone AWOL Family Travel Blog

To get an accurate idea of our family travel food costs, I need to know:

  • How much is an average restaurant meal in this family travel destination?

  • How much are groceries in the vacation spot (and if it's a big busy city, are grocery stores readily available)?

Don't worry, our free vacation calculator (download it below!) has some links on the resource page that can give you this information in a few clicks- so it's fast and easy!

I usually calculate food costs for our family vacation budget to include:

  • 1 breakfast (adult cost and kids meal cost, if applicable)

  • 1 lunch (again, adults and kids)

  • 1 dinner (adults and kids)

  • 1 or 2 snacks (depending our activity/busyness levels)

I add in the cost for each of us per day. And if breakfast is included in our hotel stay, that's money saved, so I account for that in our family vacation budget! 😉 If it isn't included, grabbing some pastries, yogurts and fruits to keep in your hotel room can save you A LOT of money!

We also typically grab snacks from the local grocery store as soon as we get settled in, so we're not stopping at corner stores or impulse buying every time we get hungry!

Once you know about how much meals and groceries cost in your desired destination, add that to the budget calculator travel worksheet and move on to the next thing!

Family Travel Budget Tip #3: Free Stuff Can Be Fun Stuff!

Once we have all of the logistics and food costs added into our cost of trip calculator, it's time to start planning out the ACTIVITIES for our family travel budget.

I always try to balance out activities that cost money (tours, museums, many tourist hot spots like the Eiffel Tower, etc) with ones that are free. It is almost shocking to see what kinds of cool activities can be done without spending any money- giving us the absolute BEST family vacation on a budget!

As a quick list, some FREE family travel activities can include:

  • Walking tours (Hello, Rick Steves, you beautiful downloadable tour guide, you...)

  • Trips to local gardens, parks, beaches, etc

  • Art galleries / Museums (Many have no entry fees, or there are free days or free kids tickets!)

  • Libraries (Also, many libraries have free local activities!)

  • Famous monuments and fancy old churches, basilicas, cathedrals, etc

  • Community events, fairs, festivals, musical shows, outdoor movies, etc

  • Local transportation is sometimes free also (Did you know the Staten Island Ferry in New York is free & a hit with kids! Read our post about NYC family activities!)

  • Smaller zoos (or even take advantage free family days at bigger zoos!)

Checking online forums and local community groups (as well as our best buddy, TripAdvisor) can reveal LOTS of free and low-cost activities for planning the ultimate family travel world wide!

(And you can get discounts on activities (and help support our blog) by using our Groupon affiliate link- just click this image below to see what's on sale atm! 😉)

When I get a general idea of what activities we're going to be doing on our family trip, I go back to my budget calculator travel worksheet and add the costs in there.

In addition to the possible cost of admission tickets, don't forget to include any costs for gift shops or purchases you might make while there (for example, ice cream if it's a zoo visit!)

Also, how are you getting to the activity? Is there a parking fee, or will you need to buy bus tickets? We generally walk anywhere that takes 30 mins or less, otherwise I add the cost of a bus or subway ticket to the activity cost.

This is basically the entirety of your family vacation budget expenses, but don't forget the little unexpected things as well! That brings us to...

Family Travel Budget Tip #4: Accidents Happen So Be Ready!

There are a few other expenses that typically occur in almost every family trip. For example, will you need a pet sitter or a house sitter? Will your hotel have free parking and free wifi, or will those cost extra?

And most importantly, do you have room in your budget for accidents or problems that may arise? I always try to have some money budgeted for our 'Emergency Travel Fund' for things like lost luggage, flat tires, or in case printed tickets got destroyed.

You never know what might happen on a vacation, so taking the squeeze out of the family travel budget can make things a LOT less stressful!

And that sums up our approach to family travel on a budget!

I hope you found this post helpful, but if I've forgotten anything or you have a specific question in mind, leave a comment below and I'd love to help! 🥰

And don't forget to snag the freebie! 👇

Family Budget Travel Calculator FREE Download | Family Travel World Wide | Lathrops Gone AWOL Family Travel Blog
Family Travel Budget Tips For Family Travel World Wide | Lathrops Gone AWOL Family Travel Blog

Thanks for reading our blog!

We love sharing our adventures with you and hope you learn lots of great tips for making your family travel easier!

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Our Family In Rome Italy _ Must Have Travel Items For Making Travel Easier _ Lathrops Gone

Welcome to Lathrops Gone AWOL! We're a family of 7, and we started traveling the world when our youngest was just a little over a year old. Life has shown us that every day is a gift and our time is limited- so we're on a mission to see the world and make as many wonderful memories as we can together!


Traveling with babies, toddlers, and angsty teens has taught us a LOT about ourselves as a family. We've seen some amazing places and learned a few travel hacks along the way! 😉


I hope you enjoy reading our blog and sharing our travel adventures with us!

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