Money! Money! Money!

The biggest deterrent to travel is money. Plain and simple! I’ve asked a lot of people “What hold’s you back from traveling?” The answer is almost always MONEY! This problem is solvable. It can be overcome with some careful planning of both your trip and your savings.

Get a Savings Plan!!!

First here are some simple savings plans I found searching the web. I am sure there are hundreds more! For me the week by week plans are great because they keep me focused and I can feel that I am making progress on the plan.

Saving change can go a long way! Grab a couple 2 liters and start throwing your change in. With 2 full 2 liters of dimes you have $1000! If you want to save all your change, grab 4 so you can sort the coins as you go. This will help you know when you are closer to your goal!



Save the dollar amount listed each week for 1 year and you have your goal. Some weeks you maybe able to save more. In that case mark each week off, that way you will be able to reach your goal faster!



This one is super easy because you pick which box to cross off each week. So if you have a flexible income or unpredictable income you can use something like this to cross off higher amounts some weeks and lower amounts other weeks! You can also use this and think of it like a game. When you get all the boxes crossed off its like black out in bingo and you’ve WON!


This one actually takes you well past your goal! And it can be accomplished by cutting out a small thing each day and putting that cash towards the vacation. Or if you don’t have anything to cut out, consider are there things you can sell or make and sell to help raise the money each day!

Shoestring Budget Tips:

  1. Post your plan on your refrigerator or somewhere you will see it DAILY!
  2. Get your family on board to help! (Maybe the kids want to do a lemonade stand or sell some old toys!)
  3. Think outside the box. In other words – don’t look just to the family income to save this money. Think about creative ways you can earn the money. Perhaps have a garage sale, or collect cans or bottles, take on some babysitting or cut the grass for neighbors. The ideas are endless and in another post we will talk about these more!

$1000 Vacation is Doable

For the purpose of this post the goal is to save $1000. I will show you how you can have a 3-5 day vacation in a hotel for this amount! Actually you can do it for less or make this amount go much further…but we will start here today!

Budget Layout:

3 nights in a hotel room – $300 average total or 5 nights in a hotel room – $500 average total

Gas – $100 average

Food – $100

Misc left over for fun stuff (visiting museums, parks, or other locations where you pay to enter). – $300-$500

Total = $1000

Okay so how do you make this happen?


First pick a hotel that can average $100 or less a night (be sure to look at taxes and booking fees when you are getting your total). I like to search or Expedia for these. There are lots of other ways to find hotels and in the future I will talk about that more but these are good places to start.

I like to pick a hotel with a pool because that is an added benefit for my kids. They love swimming in the hotel pool, which makes the vacation even more fun!

Next I look for hotels with breakfast included at no extra charge. This option saves on your budget because you are not needing to cover that meal each day.

In addition to those things I look for a hotel with a fridge and a microwave if possible. I’ll explain this when I get to the food budget.


For this short vacation pick somewhere you can get to on a tank of gas. That way you need a tank to drive there, a tank back and a tank for driving around there. Adjust this amount based on how much a tank of gas is for your vehicle. Currently in California it is about $50 for a tank for our minivan, so I would need to adjust up to $150 for us to do this or make the trip closer so I only needed 2 tanks total. Hopefully that example helps you see how to work this basic budget for your situation and modify as needed!


When we travel as a family, we always pack food and take it with us. Food is such a huge expense when you travel and really there is no gain from it. Now of course if you want a night off from cooking – then plan for that within your food budget. If you want all nights off, then you may need to increase your budget, especially if you want sit down meals.

Here are my thoughts for really traveling on a shoestring budget for food. First of all kids meals add up and really there is not a lot to those meals. Secondly, sit down meals eat up cash fast. Fast food meals are not the healthiest choice. Packing sandwiches, snacks and drinks from home saves a lot in this area. You can also pack fruits and veggies sliced up and ready to eat for healthy options.

Shoestring Budget Tips:

  1. Buy a good quality ice chest to keep food and drinks in when you travel.
  2. Buy sandwich size zip lock bags and pack sandwiches and snacks for every family member. I write the names on each with a sharpie marker before I put the item in. This helps the kids be able to get out their specific snack or sandwich and also keeps any arguments or accidental eating the wrong one at bay.
  3. Plan! Plan! Plan! Traveling on a budget is all in the planning. Check your local grocery stores for sales on any snacks, sandwich items, or drinks you want to take a long. For example, its far cheaper to pick up a case of bottled water, some Capri Son’s, and pack of Coke then it is to stop and purchase drinks. Two large drinks average about $4. For that same price, you can have a 20 pack of Coke or your drink of choice.
  4. If you have a microwave available in your hotel, you can also heat up any leftovers from a sit-down meal, or you can bring along a couple easy things to warm up in the microwave for an evening meal.

Travel on a shoestring budget is possible! It just takes lots of planning and being diligent to stick to that budget!!!

Are you stuck trying to figure out what to plan and how to figure this travel thing out? I would love to help you! Send me a message or comment below!

~ Sarah