Family Vacation Tips

How to Calculate the Cost of a Family Vacation

[fa icon="calendar"] Nov 28, 2017 10:31:00 PM / by Sally Black

Sally Black

how to budget for a family vacation

How do you know you're getting the best travel deal?....It's all about crunching the numbers with travel math. Of course with family vacations the number of passengers is multiplied so making travel as affordable as possible is critical.

Travel websites are experts of luring and enticing customers to part with their hard earn dollars.  Often you need to look past the initial price to see the entire cost. 

Here are a few situations where you need to dig a little deeper to understand the total cost...

Airline tickets  - You want to pay the cheapest price to get from point A to point B.  You find an unbelievable price with a low cost airline and you're thinking " saved $70 per airline ticket times 4 people in your family.  Before you start embarrassing the kids with your happy dance moves, look a little closer.  You got exactly what you paid for; transportation from point A to point B. If you want to bring a change of underwear and other clothes on vacation, you'll be paying $25 for each carry on bag and $30 for each checked bag....Oh and that's each way.  Want to sit next to your 4 year old?...that's another $11 per person - each way.  Did we mention that low cost carrier has a limited fleet of aircraft?  They only offer one flight per day. If you run into can mechanical or weather hiccups you may have a very long wait.  If your flight gets cancelled, getting seats on another flight might be difficult because the next few flights are probably filled with bargain shoppers like yourself.

OK so maybe the low cost carriers may not be as good a deal when you compare the numbers but how about finding a great price on one of the major carriers? First read the fine print. Many of the major airlines have started offering "basic economy" fares to compete with their low cost competitors.  Again, you'll find yourself nickeled and dimed for extra amenities.  If you are looking to purchase connecting flights take a very close look at connection times.  The reason you're saving $200 on that flight is because your chances of making a 20 minute connection at Atlanta Hartsfield airport is slim to none.

Hotels & Resorts - Ever get a 5am bill under your door with a couple hundred dollar surcharge you weren't expecting?  In the fine print it did say there was a $22 per person fee for the daily breakfast buffet.  There also might have been extra charges for local city taxes or resort fees that you didn't notice.

Another situation with hotels is "location, location, location".  Absolutely, you can save a ton of money staying in the outskirts.  How much will transportation cost you to get to the sightseeing you came to see? Parking? Rental car fees, insurance and gas? And what about your time? Did you really spend all this money to cross an ocean only to spend an hour and a half commuting?  In situations like this, the cheapest price isn't always the best value.

Look at the total package cost -  Travelers often get tunnel vision when pricing a trip instead of looking at the big pictures.  Few consider the price of food, entertainment and sightseeing.  We see this often with family trips to Europe.  Clients will want a tour of Paris, Rome, London or all three.  They see guided tour costs online and say "we saw this tour online but we don't want to be part of a tour, we can do it cheaper independently".  They come to us when they realize trying to book all these package inclusions themselves actually costs more than a guided tour.  They fail to figure on the volume discounts these tour companies have that they pass along.  Travelers don't understand the value of group departures and the cost savings they offer.

Travel Insurance -  If you can afford to lose the entire cost of your trip and any resulting medical treatments for health issues then you're one of the lucky few people who doesn't need travel insurance.  For the rest of us, one of the best deals in travel is travel insurance.  Generally it costs between 8-10% of the total cost of your vacation.  This covers you for medical, trip cancellation and trip interruption in case a storm or other issues forces you to purchase last minute or instant tickets to get back home. This kind of peace of mind is priceless.

Making sure you get the best deal and the greatest value from your vacation is what travel agents do.  It won't add any costs to your bottom line to use the services of an experienced travel agent. Travel agents earn their money by commissions paid to them via hotels, cruise lines and tour companies.

Travel agents are not "out to get you" with a quick sale. To stay in business, good travel agents know it's important to help our clients stay on track with their finances and keep to their set budgets.

We understand all the tricks of the trade. We understand and advise you about all the fine print details that may affect your bottom line.  

Talk To A Family Travel Agent


Topics: Affordable Family Vacations

Sally Black

Written by Sally Black

Sally is the Founder of Travel Agency and author of the book "Fearless Family Vacations". She is also the Director of Travel Agent Initiatives and Training at The Family Travel Association.

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