How does a family afford travel? They save money for international travel, which is a hallmark of multicultural families. Find out 5 tips for how to save for international travel!
Our family believes that travel is one of the best investments we can make in our kids. When we travel with our young children, we open their eyes to the world around them. They learn about other languages, other customs, other types of foods, and they make new friends from around the world!
However, we are also a middle-income family and making sure we can travel (internationally) with our kids at least once a year is a financial sacrifice (I prefer to call it an investment, lol). We definitely get a lot of questions about how we make the trips work.
And honestly, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me how we can afford travel on our income, I’d probably have enough money for a luxury vacation by now.
So I figured it was a good time to share some of our top financial tips for international travel with kids a reality. Here are 5 ways our family saves money for our international travel experiences each year.
5 Ways To Save Money For International Travel
Tip #1- Cut cable television and cell phone data plans
Hear me out on this- at least in the United States, the cost of cable television can add up so fast- at least $50 or more a month. When you add that up throughout a whole year, you can think about saving over $700 a year just by living without cable.
And with the advent of internet streaming for so many shows, it can make a lot more sense to find out which monthly streaming plans offer the television shows you most want to watch. I love Netflix because so much of their kids’ programming is available in Spanish (and other languages).
And let’s talk about cell phone data. I went cold turkey on data a couple of years ago- it saved me about $60 a month (that’s over $800 in one year) and I hardly missed it. That’s because so many places now have wifi for free- so I just grab the password and surf the internet when I’m out and about.
Or if there’s no wifi- it’s a great time to just be present with the people I’m with.
Total savings- $1,500 per year (that’s enough for budget accommodations for an entire trip for four!)
Tip #2- Cook at home
It’s amazing how much cooking at home saves money. Especially when you cook simple and fun international meals like you can find here on Multicultural Kid Blogs!
I also love to cook big batches of food that can be either frozen or eaten each day for lunch for a whole week. Bonus points if they are healthy and delicious.
Here’s an example- for our family to eat at a relatively inexpensive restaurant we average about $8 per person per meal- that’s about $30 per meal with tax and tip. (And that’s a REALLY cheap meal where we live.) That would be about $120 a month if we ate out one night a week.
When I cook at home, the average price per person per meal is about $3- or about $12 a meal for our family. So just replacing one meal per week eating out from eating at home are huge savings per year.
Here’s some of our family’s favorite recipes that aren’t hard on the bank- Costa Rica chicken and rice, vegetarian chipotle butternut squash soup, super fast breakfast muffin melts, and our roundup of Costa Rica recipes here on Multicultural Kid Blogs- and so many more!
Total savings- almost $1300 per year. That’s a lot of meals out on vacation!
Tip #3- Use community resources
Almost every community has resources- they just might look different! For example, where I live in Denver, we have great recreational center systems and an excellent library system. I save so much money each year by checking books out of the library instead of buying them.
Some towns I know of have toy libraries where kids can check out a different toy every few weeks- others have subsidized school fees or inexpensive farmer’s markets. The moral of the story is that it’s important to find free community resources that can replace something you buy and don’t use very often.
For example- I read 4 novels a month. At about $20 each novel, that would be an $80 a month spending habit that I have eliminated by using the public library instead.
Total savings- $960 a year (minimum)
Tip #4- Ditch your car
I spent a few months doing the 10,000 steps per day challenge. At first, I had a lot of trouble getting all my steps in- until I started walking my errands instead of driving.
Where I live- this wasn’t easy. I’m definitely taking a 25-minute walk each way to the grocery store, and sometimes further to the gym or the library. However, when I started walking, biking and using public transportation, not only did I start to lose weight, but I also halved the rate at which I was filling up my gas tank.
You know what else? My kids learned to read in the stroller while we walked – and we spent a lot of time reading our favorite bilingual books!
It was a great savings- about $25 a month. And I live a healthier life!
Total savings – $300 a year. That easily pays for quite a few museum entrances and tours.
Tip #5- Make a list before you head to the store
Today my mom and I went to the grocery store for milk. We came home with $25 worth of groceries that we didn’t need- and we forgot the milk!
I find that I save a lot of money when I buy less when I shop. This means making good lists, planning out our family meals, and checking the house before I go so that I know what we need and what we don’t.
How many times have you come home with a bag full of things that you realize you already had at home- you just forgot? For me, it’s more times than I can count.
So make lists, and avoid impulse buying.
Total savings- $1,200 a year– at least I would say for me, after I started getting organized about shopping we saw at least a $100 drop in expenditures per month.
The bottom line:
It can be hard to save money for international travel. It is partly a practice in delayed gratification- one that I think is completely worth it. My young children have visited multiple countries and learned more about themselves and others in the process.
Just with the minimum amount of savings from the tips in this article, we saved $5,260 in one year. And I put that money towards family travel.
Where will you go with your $5,000 this year? Let us know in the comments below. And make sure to chime in on social and let us know where you are traveling!