Monthly advice to get you there.

Sign up

Download the Family Bookpack guide to travel-related books for all ages.
FREE when you subscribe.

Family Travel Planning Made Easier

Traveling Families: 5 Families Who Make Travel a Priority

Travel is an opportunity to make memories, bond with your family, and explore the world – which is all truly priceless. With all the benefits of travel, how can you afford to do more of it?

We chatted with five families who have made travel a priority. Time and money are both factors that impact our abilities to travel. These families share how they have made decisions to prioritize both.

Sarah and her travel-loving crew in their hometown of Nashville, TN

A Family of Five Shares Family Priorities

Where have you traveled?

I traveled quite a bit as a kid and growing up. And then when I met my husband, we traveled as much as possible both internationally and domestically. With our 3 girls, we have traveled throughout the U.S. and around Europe and Africa. During the holiday season of 2017, we traveled for 3 weeks through Germany, Poland, and France.

Where do you plan to travel in the future?

We have a constantly growing family bucket list, ha. We are always up for a trip to Europe – but we are currently looking at trips to Hawaii and Japan, South America, and I have started a new project wherein I would like to visit all 50 U.S. states by the time I’m 50 – so planning for that is in the works too.

How often do you travel?

We try to take one really big trip every 1-2 years – after my husband has accumulated some time off of work and we’ve saved up – both money and airline miles. We also take regular domestic trips – road trips, shorter flights, etc. – a couple times a year during the girls’ school breaks.

Share how you have made travel a priority and why it’s important to your family.

My husband Brad and I have always included travel as a priority in our lives. After we had kids, one day we actually wrote down our family priorities – those things as a family where we want to invest our time and money – and travel was high on that list (along with retirement). We have made travel a priority for our family over new cars, non-essential home renovations, or daily expenses. It is important to us as a family because it instills a curiosity about the world. Travel expands our family’s worldview and opens our girls up to experiences, people and adventures that teach them the skills to be empathetic, curious, open-minded and hopefully a catalyst for change as they become adults. Saving and prioritizing also teaches them how to budget and prioritize things in their own lives.

What ways do you budget travel or prioritize how to spend money on travel?

As I mentioned above, we prioritize travel and experiences over other things. We also budget throughout our daily lives – budgeting our grocery shopping, clothes shopping, home projects – allows more investment in our travels. Last holiday season, we traveled to Europe for three weeks and we really scaled down on gifts with and for our girls and focused on the experience, instead. It was magical and we hope to incorporate that philosophy into all of our holidays.

Give us your best advice for prioritizing and budgeting for travel.

In preparation for travel, we believe in living below our means. If travel is truly a priority for our family, then the rest of our life needs to revolve around that to some degree. We have monthly budgets for everything from food to clothes to car maintenance that we adhere as much as possible which allows us to save more for travel and retirement – our two priorities. We also utilize credit card airline miles, we hunt for airline deals when planning trips, we stay with friends, family or AirBnBs when we travel to save money and make connections. We travel to the local markets and cook at our AirBnB instead of eating out every day. We rarely check our luggage and we love to find free events or discounts in the cities we visit.

Sarah Wilson writes here at The Family Backpack and also shares her family’s travel adventures and how to expand her family’s worldview (even when not traveling) at her family travel blog,  The Wandering Rumpus.

The Clement family on the Isle of Skye, Scotland

A Family of Expats Travel Europe

Where have you traveled?

Most recently, before we left the U.S., we spent about 10 weeks on a road trip traveling in the West and Midwest. Then, we spent a week in Iceland and lived in Scotland for 2 months (with my husband’s family). Then, we explored England, Belgium, Switzerland, France. We stopped in Spain where we have been living for the last seven months.

Where do you plan to travel in the future?

We are prepping for a European road trip to France, before driving to Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro. Then to Italy and back to Spain.

How often do you travel?

We typically go on trips over the kids’ school breaks.

Share how you have made travel a priority and why it’s important to your family.

My husband is from Scotland and I’m from the U.S., we met in France when we were both studying abroad in college.  We both love traveling and living abroad, and we knew we wanted to continue traveling with our family.

What ways do you budget travel or prioritize how to spend money on travel?

We live well below our means and focus on the big things – a cheaper house than we could afford, functional cars, and not having a lot of “stuff.”  Instead of keeping to a strict budget, we try to really think through if we need something, and if the answer is “yes” then we research the best deals we can find.

Give us your best advice for prioritizing and budgeting for travel.

For me, it just helps to be cheap!  Buy less, get a good deal, keep it longer. We prioritize experiences over possessions.

I guess some people would say we are crazy to prioritize travel over a new car or bigger house, but for us, travel is our top “want,”, so we just save in all of the other aspects of our lives, where we can. It has worked out well for us to be able to achieve our lifelong goal of taking a few years off of work to travel.

Makenzie Clement writes about her family’s travel adventures over on Red Boat by the Sea.

Bryanna and her family at Yosemite National Park in California

A Full-Time RV Traveling Family

Where have you traveled?

We have been to 31 States and also Canada and Mexico as a family.

Where do you plan to travel in the future?

We are currently on a five-month road trip up the U.S. West Coast and will head to New Mexico and then Mainland Mexico.

How often do you travel?

We travel full-time. We sold our house, bought an RV and have been on the road for over four years. On the road, we travel to new places approximately every week.

Share how you have made travel a priority and why it’s important to your family.

We have made travel a priority by doing it full time. It is important to us because we want to show our kids the world we live in and expose our family to different people and different ways of life. It is also a great way for our family to bond by visiting new locations together, exploring and hiking as a family.

What ways do you budget travel or prioritize how to spend money on travel?

Through RVing we can stay in really cool places for a lot less then if we were staying in hotels. We also try to find free things to do everywhere we go and we love visiting National Parks to go hiking and exploring (all for free!).

Give us your best advice for prioritizing and budgeting for travel.

My advice is to look at how much one vacation is costing you and figure out if it is worth spending thousands of dollars on a week-long trip or if you could take that money and spread it out over multiple week-long or weekend trips throughout the year to see more places.

Another way to budget for travel is to look at road trip options, camping, and to look into free things to do at destinations instead of all the top tourist activities.

Bryanna blogs about how her family sold all of their things and took to traveling full-time. She writes at Crazy Family Adventure.

The Sparrow family celebrating the holidays in Stockholm Sweden

A Family of 3 Makes Travel a Priority Year Round

Where have you traveled?

Before I met my husband, Kevin, I lived in Paris for two years, Montreal for one year, Australia for four months, and Shanghai for 18 months. I also backpacked through India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Kevin used to train hop around the U.S. and into Canada.  

When our worlds collided we were made for each other! Soon after meeting (and realizing this) we moved to New York City.

After our first daughter, Lily, was born, we kept traveling. Her first international trip was at six-months-old when we visited friends in Merada, Mexico. As a new mom I had reservations about taking my young baby so far from home. I never used to concern myself with things like health or safety before having a child, so these new worries were foreign to me (pun intended!).  

I armed myself with important information like the number of the local hospital, talked to our pediatrician and we were off.  We quickly realized how adaptable Lily was so we continued to travel.

When Lily was three, we moved our family to Paris, France. As a family, we’ve traveled to France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, England, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.

Where do you plan to travel in the future?

We will go to Iceland soon.  We would like to visit both coastlines and experience the different cultures there. We also dream of taking Lily to Thailand.

How often do you travel?

We travel abroad at least once a year.

Share how you have made travel a priority and why it’s important to your family.

I think once you take the plunge, traveling becomes a part of you. It’s in our blood now.  

Traveling is important because you learn so much through these experiences – not just about the world and the people in it, but also about yourself. Traveling together as a family has given us different opportunities to grow both individually and as a family unit.  

What ways do you budget travel or prioritize how to spend money on travel?

Kevin and I always traveled as backpackers for months at a time on a shoestring, staying at hostels and eating the local street food.  We’ve had to make some adjustments traveling with a child. For example, our trips are shorter and we spend more time at the local parks than we do at the local museums. We also spend more money. Therefore, our lifestyle here at home reflects these changes. We live comfortably but modestly, which allows us to travel more often.

Give us your best advice for prioritizing and budgeting for travel.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way! We don’t always travel during peak times. Sometimes we go in the fall when ticket prices are half of what they would cost otherwise. We usually stay in an Airbnb, which allows us to go grocery shopping and cook meals at home instead of constantly eating out. This saves money and allows for some much-needed downtime when you have a kid in tow.  

We plan! I used to buy a plane ticket than see where the wind took me. Now I research everything so that we can maximize our experience without wasting any time or money on tourist traps.

Danielle Sparrow

The Rauen family, Ride of a Lifetime on Icelandic Ponies


A Family That Believes Travel Becomes Who You Are

Where have you traveled?

As a family, we have traveled throughout the U.S., Costa Rica, and Iceland.

Where do you plan to go in the future?

Croatia, Italy, Ireland, Brazil, Spain, New Zealand, San Francisco, Vancouver, Belgium, Various US National Parks, Africa and more!

How often do you travel?

Our goal is 1-2 international trips and 3-4 domestic trips per year.

Share how you have made travel a priority and why it’s important to your family.

Travel found its way into our lives and has become a part of who we are. As a family, we have always valued experiences over material possessions, and we have slowly discovered that there is no better way to create experiences and memories together than by seeing all the world has to offer.  

When our children were young (1-2 years old) I had a battle with cancer and I am lucky to be here in their lives. This has contributed greatly to our sense of adventure and fearlessness when it comes to taking a leap of faith into the unknown and embracing the opportunities we have right in front of us.

What ways do you budget travel or prioritize how to spend money on travel? Usually, we get an idea in our minds of where we want to go, book plane tickets if we find a decent price, then the “how the heck are we going to afford this?” sets in.

Before each trip, we budget at home too.  We consider things like if we should eat at home or eat out, buy clothes or make a purchase for the house. We live simply but we always struggle between having a big nest egg, paying off student loans and traveling.

Give us your best advice for prioritizing and budgeting for travel.

Hostels! We always/prefer to stay in hostels wherever we can find them where they have quad rooms for our whole family, they are cheaper and you can cook your own food which is a huge money-saver.

Long weekends are great as time is always our biggest constraint. Recently, we went to Iceland for a long weekend and it was perfect! I found cheap airfare, thought about it for a few minutes and booked it!  We try to do this when the kids have days off of school. After a while, a six-hour flight feels like taking a quick nap.

The more I travel in the world, the more I see how little people actually need to live. This applies to travel and also translates into our home life. Also, we never check luggage which is a great money saver!

Jennifer Rauen


From expats to full-time RV family travelers to regular yearly family trips, it is clear that traveling can be possible on any budget as long as you make it a priority.

We hope these families inspire you to make family travel a priority, find ways to budget for family travel and see the world!

For more great information about traveling on a budget, check out our resources on The Family Backpack.


Featured image credit: Sparrow Family



Close Search Overlay