Budget Luxury: How To Create an Unforgettable Vacation For Less

Monica Gray - April 1, 2024

Embarking on a luxurious family vacation often brings up images of large expenses and indulgent splurges on food and expeditions. But it’s false that you need to spend a lot of money on a luxurious vacation. We’re here to tell you it’s a myth. You don’t have to give up comfort or travel on a tight budget to reap the benefits of luxury travel.

All you need is a dash of creativity and a strategic approach to traveling on a budget. You can have a memorable, budget-friendly luxury travel experience without breaking the bank. You don’t need to spend a ton of money to take your kids on a luxury vacation. Find out why right here.


Off-Peak Travel

To save, you should opt to travel during off-peak seasons and’or weekdays. This is the time you can embrace quieter periods and encounter destinations in their most authentic and serene states. You’ll miss the busting crows that often come with traveling during high season, which means you’ll also miss the exorbitant prices.

Traveling during the off-season is a great way for you and your family to meet like-minded, more adventurous travelers, too. According to LinkedIn, “Traveling in the off-season typically attracts a certain type of traveler who is looking for a more relaxed, slower, unique and authentic experience.” Moreover, accommodations and attractions frequently offer discounts and promotions during low-season periods. This is when you can opt for a luxury room you normally wouldn’t book during high season (via LinkedIn).


Alternative Accommodation

To save money, you can also look for vacation rentals or Airbnb options instead of hotels. You can often find spacious accommodations for less. This will also give your vacation a bit of authenticity that you wouldn’t have from a hotel, like a kitchen and backyard for example. Booking and Airbnb also provide a cozy space and a feeling that you’re in a home away from home, easing the stress that might come with sleeping in an unfamiliar place.

The users of Reddit agree, and write, “It’s so much easier with small kids when they have their own space, we have a place to cook and eat, and a place to relax and unwind.” These accommodations often boast amenities like fully-equipped kitchens and communal living areas. But the cost-effectiveness of such options allows you to put that saved money towards other experiences and adventures, which would take your luxury travel to another level (via Reddit).

USA Today

Home Exchange

Consider home exchange programs where you swap homes with another family for the duration of your vacation. This is a great way for you and your kids to immerse yourselves in local culture while not having to break the bank. You’ll get the comforts of a local home and get to see how other people live. These like-minded people may open new perspectives for your kids you certainly wouldn’t get from a hotel.

According to the Home Exchange website, “Home exchange is more than just accommodation, you discover new places, make new connections, indulge in a new culture, and enjoy hospitality with endless activities for your children.” This is where you’ll reside in residential neighborhoods, shop at local markets, and live as a local during your stay. It would end up being more of a cultural exchange than a vacation. Your kids can keep learning even when they’re not at school (via Home Exchange).


Use Rewards Points

Utilize credit card rewards points or loyalty programs to book accommodations and flights at discounted rates. Having a credit card offers more perks than simply buying things. Before you start booking your and your family’s flights, take a look at how many credit card points you’ve accumulated. You can use these points for hotel rooms, car rentals, and flights.

Depending on the type of credit card you have, you’ll be able to use your points on different airlines and at different hotels. According to The Points Guy, “United, for example, provides extra award inventory to MileagePlus elite members. And if you hold certain United cobranded credit cards, you can access more award inventory even when booking for others.” If you have an airline-specific credit card, then you might want to look into buying flights with that airline for your family vacation (via The Points Guy).

Friday Health Plans


Who said you had to leave your hometown to have a stellar vacation? You and your family can explore nearby destinations to save on transportation costs while still enjoying a change of scenery.

The users of Quora also have a ton of fun ideas, including “Treat your local area as if you were a tourist and look at it with new eyes. Get the local tourist information guide and do some of the visits and activities recommended there. Make it into an adventure by involving the entire family in making the choices. Get each member of the family to write a review of each activity and give it a star rating. Post your reviews. Go to a local park and do a bug hunt. You will be amazed at the fascinating things you can find at a micro level.” You’ll be surprised by how luxurious your family vacation can be by simply going micro in your hometown (via Quora).

Emily M Krause

Be Flexible and Fly With Budget Airlines

Use budget airlines or search for deals on flight comparison websites for affordable airfare. Even though budget airlines are known for their no-frills approach, they provide a cost-effective means of transportation. While traveling in the economy isn’t necessarily a luxury, it is a great way to travel and see the world on a budget. You might even get a free upgrade to a better class! Flexible dates also allow for cheaper travel, though this might be difficult if your kids are in school and you’re only traveling during school holidays.

Blogger Emily M Krause shares how she travels with her family on a budget. She wrote, “First I go to Skyscanner and type in my home and destination airports. When it asks for dates, I choose “Whole Month” and then underneath that, I click “Cheapest Month.” Families can maximize savings by booking well in advance and remaining flexible with travel dates, taking advantage of discounted fares (via Emily M Krause).


Travel with a Carry-On

You can avoid the exorbitant checked bag fees by only traveling with a carry-on. If you’re going on a week-long vacation, this shouldn’t be an issue. You can pack a lot into a carry-on and all that money saved is money you can put towards adventures. You’ll be able to bypass the check-in counters, which saves precious time. This is ideal if you’re traveling with small children since getting to the airport promptly can be stressful.

Not only that but traveling on public transportation is much easier with smaller bags. You don’t have to worry about dragging a large suitcase and trying to board the public bus in a new city, with your entire family. The spontaneity that comes with having a carry-on bag is also a plus since you don’t have to spend much time packing a huge bag. You and your family can easily throw your clothes into your small bags and be on your way. That way, you can save money here and there and put it towards a more luxurious Airbnb or an experience your kids will remember forever (via Reddit).

Wellington World Travels

Be In Nature

As one of the best free attractions out there, you can spend time exploring nearby hiking trails and nature reserves for inexpensive outdoor adventures. This bonding of physical activity and the exploration of nature will create fond memories with your family forever. Firstly, hiking provides an opportunity for families to disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other and the natural world.

It’s even better when your family is enjoying natural, stunning landscapes they would never see in an expensive hotel. You can turn your vacation luxury by glamping or staying in a comfortable Airbnb afterwards, that brings your home away from home. Hiking trails often lead to hidden gems such as waterfalls, scenic viewpoints, and wildlife encounters, providing memorable experiences and photo opportunities (via American Hiking).


Discount Passes

Purchase discount passes or city cards that offer savings on multiple attractions and activities. If you’re a family, there’s an easier chance you’ll get family discounts. For budget-conscious families looking to save money while traveling as luxuriously as possible, you’ll want to take a look at discount passes.

You can find these passes on various websites like Groupon and TripAdvisor. These passes often provide access to multiple attractions, tours, and activities at a significantly discounted rate, making them a cost-effective option for families looking to explore a destination’s highlights. According to US News Travel, “Some passes even include discounts on dining and shopping to help travelers trim additional travel costs. The passes can also be a major time saver, eliminating the wait time required to purchase individual tickets.

Time Travel Bee

Shop at Local Markets

Shop at local markets for souvenirs and gifts instead of touristy shops to find unique items at better prices. Not only are markets cheap places to travel, but they provide an authentic glimpse into the local culture. These markets showcase traditional crafts, culinary delights, and unique products that may not be found elsewhere in the world.

According to Time Travel Bee, “It’s true that products on the street market will be less processed than those from a supermarket, made in the factories. Fruits and vegetables will rather have fewer chemicals and preservatives and in general, will be more natural.” Your kids can engage with local vendors form meaningful interactions, and learn about the traditional customs head-on. You and your family can spend time sampling street food, haggling for souvenirs, or simply people-watching. This is luxury travel turned authentic (via Time Travel Bee).

Frommers Travel Guides

Hotel Loyalty Programs

Join hotel loyalty programs to earn rewards and benefits such as free nights or room upgrades. This is a great option if you’re a frequent traveler and want to reap the benefits of luxury while using your loyalty program. By enrolling in these programs, you’ll have the chance to get complimentary room upgrades, late check-outs, and exclusive access to amenities. You can accumulate these points through dining, stays, and affiliated partners.

According to The Every Mom, “Hilton Honors, Hilton’s loyalty program, is one of the best family-friendly loyalty programs around. There are four different levels in the Hilton Honors program, a standard membership, silver, gold, and diamond. All members get access to member-only discounts, free Wi-Fi, the ability to choose your room, a digital key, remote check-in, and waived resort fees on award bookings.” You’ll even get elite status the more you spend.

Classic Journeys

Luxury Day Trips

Explore nearby destinations on day trips instead of staying in expensive tourist hotspots. These day trips are not synonymous with exorbitant expenses, especially when traveling with family on a budget. You can be strategic when it comes to day trips, and opt for destinations like nice beaches or hikes which are usually cheap or free. Museums can be free, theme parks may offer discounts, and you may get group packages if you’re a few people or more.

Additionally, consider packing a picnic or opting for affordable dining options to keep expenses in check while still enjoying a gourmet experience. According to Travel + Leisure, “Experience the fabulous life of a French local with Paris Perfect. The vacation rental agency provides accommodation options at some of the most unreal apartments in the City of Lights with rates from less than $200 a night. You can even filter by apartments with an Eiffel Tower view, which starts at $335 a night.”

Visit Anchorage

Bike Rentals

Who said you can’t be on a luxury vacation and rent a bicycle? Rent bicycles to explore the area, which can be both cost-effective and environmentally friendly. This is an unparalleled opportunity for families to explore destinations in a fun, eco-friendly, and immersive way, without having to spend a ton of money on transportation. This is also a great way to venture off the beaten path, discover hidden gems, and see hidden routes you can only access via hiking or bicycle.

According to Pruvo, “When traveling by car, fuel costs can add up quickly – especially if you’re driving in a foreign country where petrol is expensive. Renting a bike is a great way to slash your travel costs and avoid paying for petrol altogether. Plus, it’s good for the environment!” The best part is that you’ll get physical activity and healthy habits out of going on a long bike ride with your family. And if you have young kids, you can opt for a tandem bike or child-friendly trailer (via Pruvo).

Reader’s Digest

Get Travel Insurance

While this might seem counterintuitive, getting travel insurance when you travel with your family may end up saving you thousands of dollars. According to Nerd Wallet, “If you need to cancel your trip, someone gets food poisoning or needs stitches and has to go to the hospital, or the airline loses your bag, comprehensive travel insurance can save the day by footing the bill.”

You might be able to opt for a family plan to make the costs cheaper. It’s a necessary expense that will ultimately create stress-free travel. While you can be as safe as possible, there’s no saying if an accident will happen or not. The last thing you’d want to happen during a family vacation is to have an accident that puts you and your family in debt. Good travel insurance will cover hospital bills, missing bags, stolen items, and more.