Adventure Awaits: How to Actually Save Up for the Ultimate Family Vacation

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With most family vacations on the back burner right now, this may be the perfect time to start putting money aside for your family’s big dream trip. Whether it’s an arctic adventure chasing Northern lights in Iceland, an ancestry tour to explore your family roots in Ireland, or a beach immersed expedition hanging with local kangaroos in Australia, these once in a lifetime trips come at a cost that most of us just don’t have sitting in our bank account. And I am here to discuss how to actually save up for the ultimate family vacation!

To make your dream trip come true you need to implement good family saving habits. “You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.” James Clear. So, dreaming of great places to take the family is the easy part, but the saving… well let me peel back the curtains and show you how we do it in our house.

How to Actually Save Up for the Ultimate Family Vacation!

Put Your Vacation FIRST! Set Up Auto Withdraw Once a Month

How to Actually Save Up for the Ultimate Family Vacation - Monthly auto withdraw

On the first of every month, $200 comes out of my chequing account and moves over to my vacation savings account automatically. This way I can recognize the money is in the savings and can budget the rest of my month out accordingly. If I’m needing that money, I can evaluate what I’m requiring it for, and often find creative ways (borrowing, buying a used version, waiting) to eliminate that “need” and keep that money in my savings account. At the end of the year, that’s $2400 in savings towards our next adventure!

Book One Hotel A Month

How to Actually Save Up for the Ultimate Family Vacation - Book One Hotel A Month

When we were planning our big trip to Australia to help alleviate the cost, I booked ONE hotel room per month leading up to our trip. Every month for a year I booked and paid in full, that hotel. I ensured they had a good refund policy, in case plans changed, but this allowed me to book well in advance, secure the best rates, and absorb that cost ahead of time. So, when we landed on the ground for a month 50% of our hotels were already paid for!

Bonus Bucks – Skip Dinner Out and Transfer the Money Into Your Account (Hello Clean Pantry)

Look for opportunities as a family to find “Bonus Bucks” (and get the kids involved). For example, if you’re on the fence about going out for dinner or eating soup and sandwiches, ask the kids what they want to do. If they are old enough, see if they are even up for making dinner! Then, once you’ve eaten, transfer the money you would have spent on dinner directly into your savings account, accumulating “bonus bucks”. This can be a huge way for many families to actually save up for the ultimate family vacation, as money spent on eating out adds up very quickly! The other two bonuses are that your pantry will get an overhaul and your kids will help make a few meals!

Give Cash in the Destinations Currency

How to Actually Save Up for the Ultimate Family Vacation - Give Cash in Country's Currency

When it’s time for Birthdays or Christmas ask/give cash in the destination’s currency. Sure, you may have to trade out a few Starbucks cards from Mom but when you land on the ground on the first day of your trip, you’ll be happy to have some local currency on hand! We find this is a great way for us and for grandparents to get involved in the pre-trip excitement too as kids love seeing cash in their birthday cards of a different currency. They get excited about the “new money” and get more involved in the trip planning process as a result. This also helps them learn to budget and what to spend on souvenirs when we’re on vacation as they know what their budget is and tend to be more selective when making purchasing decisions. This also equals less consumption of “stuff.” A true win all around.

Make Your Crew Accountable

How to Actually Save Up for the Ultimate Family Vacation - Make The Kids Accountable

Automate the processes that you can (such as banking) and then as a family keep the discussion in the forefront, making you all accountable. Kids LOVE to make parents accountable, and I found that mine are a driving force when we set up a family goal like this, reminding me that we were in savings mode when I was scrolling online shopping. They are willing to contribute more than I ever expected and come up with creative ways to even save more. But don’t try to do this solo, you may get results but not the true momentum that you want.

Put it all on Credit Cards!

How to Actually Save Up for the Ultimate Family Vacation - Put it On Credit Card

If you’re good at budgeting and paying off your credit cards, find a great card with good travel rewards and put EVERYTHING you can on that card. We rack up as many rewards points as possible so that when it’s time to plan our trips we can ideally have the cost of our flights covered.

How to actually save up for the ultimate family vacation: what amount can you expect to save?

Here’s how the numbers ran when our family ended up saving for our trip to Australia:

Monthly Auto Withdraw – $2400

Booking One Hotel Per Month (Average Rate $150) – $1800

Bonus Bucks (Skipping one $50 meal per month) – $600

Trading In Cash For Gifts (Birthdays and Christmas) – $500 (Adults) $100 (Each Child)

Accountability: Extra money from selling old toys, bottles, etc. – $500

Total Annual Savings Towards Trip per year: $5900

Some years we hit this target and other years we don’t. When we were saving for our trip to spend a month in Australia it took us 4 years before that trip became a reality.

The Challenge:

What can you do TODAY that your future self with thank you for? I want to help elevate your dreams to become a reality. So, choose one of the recommendations and then if you’re ready to step up, message me with your commitment! In one year from now, I’ll follow up with you and see if you’ve reached your goal. I’ll be one of your accountability buddies and help you transform your dream trip into a reality!

Is this a sponsored post?: No, I want to be able to help other families reach their vacation goals and therefore wanted to share what works for our family!

About The Author
Jami Savage
Jami Savage
Jami Savage is one of the top Family Travel Writers in Canada, and has been featured on CTV and Vancouver Sun, and more. Go here to read our families story about how we went from backyard adventurers to world travelers, and how you can do the same. If you want to send Jami a quick message, visit her contact page here.
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Jami Savage

Full Time Travel Writer, Mom who is passionate about empowering and educating travelers on how you can use your own tourism dollars as a catalyst for positive change worldwide. Click here to learn more about us, our family, and how we lead an adventure filled life!

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