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The Cheapest Way for a Family to Fly to Europe

Is a family trip to Europe on your bucket list?? I am going to break down for you one of the cheapest ways for a family to fly to Europe.

This is our FAVORITE area of the world and has so many amazing international destinations to visit with kids in tow.

Cash rates for a summer ticket to Europe average anywhere from $1000-$1,500 EACH. And that’s just to GET THERE. International flights are insanely expensive. And then you multiply that by 4, 5, or 6 family members???

You’re going to have to sell your left kidney just to fly your family across the oceans. That’s not even including your hotel or food!

SO how about I show you how to take a bucket list trip to Europe for more like $150-200 per person?! Sign me UP.

Ways to Fly your Family to Europe for Cheaper

You can definitely use some hacks to score some cheap flights. It’s actually not TOO hard to find flights to Europe under $500…IF you can be flexible.

Don’t miss this post about how to score dirt cheap flights for anywhere on your bucket list!

Getting flight deal alerts in your inbox (our favorite is Going for the best deals!), is how we snagged about $400 tickets to Italy for our family of 4 during shoulder season.

Some of our top ways to save on International Flights are:

  • Going’s Flight Deal Alerts (notifies you of a significant price drop or mistake fares)
  • Using the Google Explore feature to nail down cheapest cities and dates to fly into Europe
  • Using Skyscanner “Everywhere” feature to find the lowest cost airport to fly into in Europe for your dates
  • Using “backwards positioning flights” – fly into ANY city in Europe (whichever has the lowest price tag) and then take a very low cost “positioning flight” inter-country to the city you actually want to be in

These hacks will save you a LOT of money on tickets to Europe. BUT if you want to take your family of 4,5,6 plus to Europe during peak summer travel dates?! Your options are much more limited…and that savings becomes less and less.

But here is where the absolutely CHEAPEST (and most reliable) way to fly your family to Europe comes in!

The Cheapest Way for Families to Fly to Europe

Credit card points to save the day! Now I know some of your read that and have already written me off. BUT let me show you just how powerful they can be!

By acccumulating credit card points and learning how to optimize them (the KEY), you can very easily fly your family to Europe even on the tightest travel budget.

The crucial piece of getting the very most out of your credit card points is transferring your points to travel partners. NOT just using your points to give yourself a cash back statement on say a flight purchase.

By transferring your points to a travel partner of your credit card, you can literally explode your travel potential.

An Example of Saving on Flights to Europe for your Family

So let’s take a look at an example of trying to buy tickets to Europe for your large family, hang with me while we do a little math here…

Let’s say we want tp fly from Dallas to Rome. Tickets for peak summer travel will cost us probably on average $1,000-$1,500 per ticket as I mentioned before. So if we have a family of 5 that is at a minimum $5,000 for our flights.

Now, let’s say we found a killer flight deal and snagged $600 tickets to Rome (a DEAL). That is $3,000 total for our families flights to Italy (better!)

Sitting on my credit card I have 100,000 points. I am thinking I will either book in the travel portal to use those points or use them for a chase back statement credit. This would take $1,000 off my total flight price. Leaving me to pay $2,000 for my family of 5 to get to Europe.

Most likely, this would not be a direct flight. AND you’d have to compromise on your ideal dates.

Honestly, not horrible given the cost of tickets in summer…but we can do EVEN BETTER.

By simply taking those credit card points and TRANSFERRING them to a travel partner of our credit card, we will save hundreds more.

By transferring those same 100,000 points to an airline partner, we could book our tickets fully with points and ONLY pay the taxes on those flights.

This would take our cost down to around $1,000 for the whole family. AND it could be a direct flight AND we could get pretty close to the exact dates we are hoping for.

THIS is the power of points and knowing how to use them!

If you are are looking for the best travel rewards credit card, this is HANDS DOWN the most widely recommended travel credit card if you are just getting started with trying to leverage points for more travel.

The Best Way for Families to get to Europe on Points

My favorite program for families trying to get to Europe on a budget is hands down Flying Blue. Flying Blue is the rewards program for Air France and KLM (just like Rapid Rewards is the rewards program for Southwest).

Air France/KLM is an airline transfer partner of almost all major banks/cards (Chase, Capital One, Citi, and AMEX). It’s very beginner friendly, so even if you are just starting out in the points world, you can fairly easily navigate securing dirt cheap flights for your family to Europe.

There is also usually a lot of award availability (a large amount of flights available to book with points). This can be a huge barrier to other programs, just finding enough flights bookable on points for a large family.

The last reason why I think the Flying Blue program is the cheapest way for families to fly to Europe is because they offer 25% off children’s award tickets (age 2-11)! 25% off the points needed to purchase a kid’s flight AND 25% off the taxes/fees you pay on that flight!

This equates to come huge savings for families trying to fly to Europe on a budget!

To recap why Flying Blue is the best transfer partner for families to fly to Europe:

  • Very Beginner friendly and easy to set up an account and navigate
  • Lots of award availability from major United States hubs
  • 25% off kids tickets (Which no other program offers!)
  • Additional easy ways to save on your bookings – keep reading below!

Using Points to Fly your Family to Europe

Thankfully you can accumulate essentially any points (Chase, Capital One, Citi, AMEX) to transfer to Flying Blue. If you are confused on how we actually accumulate enough points to get a family to Europe, this post is a MUST READ.

So once you have a big stash of points with your bank you can start looking at flight options.

First, you’ll start by making a Flying Blue account here. It’s free and will allow you to search award flights (flights bookable on points!)

Secondly, you will put in your departure city and the city in Europe you would like to visit. Want to see the Eiffel tower in Paris? Eat pizza in a piazza in Rome? Play on the beaches of Greece? Truly, once you learn the ins and outs of reward travel, the sky is the limit.

Pro Tip: I find searching for one way tickets is easiest and provides the most flexibility.

Leave the date blank and it will allow you to search the calendar feature. This is KEY to getting the cheapest flights possible.

The calendar feature lets you view the lowest flight prices for each day in the month. As you can see the points vary wildly from day to day. But with a little bit of flexibility, you can find flights to Europe from major US hubs for as low as 15,000 points each way!

Using Points to Fly your Family to Europe Cont.

Also NOTE, the importance of booking in advance.

To snag flights for as low as 15,000 points or less each way, for peak summer travel, I like to book our flights 9-11 months in advance. Airlines only release a certain amount of award space when it comes to flights. Once those spots are taken, the price to purchase in points just goes up and up.

Once you confirm the dates and exact flights you want- it’s time to transfer your points! Navigate to your credit card account and go to the rewards section.

Find the “Transfer to Travel Partners” feature. Here, you will put in your Flying Blue account number and transfer the EXACT points you need to book your family’s flights to Europe.

NOTE // *Once you transfer those points from you bank, they can NEVER go back! So always, always check for availability first*

By booking directly with Air France/KLM with points, you can easily snag $1000-1500 tickets to Europe during peak summer travel for *just* the cost of the taxes on that flights. (usually this averages about $100-200 per ticket with Flying Blue)

So instead of paying $5,000 out of pocket, or even $2-3,000 out of pocket for a good deal and a cash back statement from your points…you can now fly your ENTIRE family to Europe for $1000 or less!

Now THAT just took an out of reach bucket list Europe trip and made no longer just a lofty dream and 100% possible!

Side Note, if all this talk of traveling more for less as peaked your interest, make sure to download our free Points 101 Guide. 30+ pages outlining the basics of reward travel and taking out the overwhelm out of points to get your family traveling more!

Ways to Save EVEN MORE on your Family’s Flights to Europe

Two ways you can get the cost of your Europe flights even LOWER – watching for transfer bonuses and Flying Blue monthly promos. Let me explain!

Typically every month, banks will run transfer bonuses. For example, let’s say Chase runs a 25% transfer bonus to Air France/KLM (my favorite combo!). This means when you move your points from Chase to Air France, you would get 25% more points in your Air France/KLM account for FREE after that transfer!

This is how we snagged our dirt cheap flights to Norway! A 25% transfer bonus to Air France that allowed us to book tickets into Oslo and out of Bergen for about 35,000 points and $200 in taxes each.

Sign up for our points newsletter HERE and we will make sure to always alert you to these money saving opportunities…as well as a WEALTH of other tips and tricks.

Staying in the know about transfer bonuses can put more FREE points in your pocket, which just stretched your savings even farther!

Further Savings when Flying your Family to Europe

Lastly, you can watch out for Flying Blue monthly promos. These are specific routes Air France/KLM run discounted monthly sales on for flights booked on points.

For example, currently there is a handle of major US cities you can get an award ticket to Europe for 25% off! Flying from Atlanta to Europe during this Flying Blue promo is even up to 50% off!

Even BETTER??? All of these savings are *stackable*….my favorite kind of discounts.

So if the stars aligned, you could combine a transfer bonus WITH a Flying Blue monthly promo WITH the 25% kids discount and get some *very* serious savings on flights to Europe for your family.

I just make sure to subscribe to the Flying Blue newsletter to be notified of these sales!

There *is* a cheapest way to get to Europe for families, and this is surely one of the very best. Flight deals will definitely save you a fair amount on international flights. But NOTHING will slash your costs more than learning how to use points.

Comment below if you use this hack to get your family to Europe! Nothing makes us happier than hearing we’ve helped even one family take a bucket list trip for less!

And if you haven’t already make sure to download our FREE (30 page!) Points 101 Guide to take dream vacations like this for WAY less.

Budget Travel

Hawaii Family Vacation on a Budget // A Step by Step Guide

Did someone say Hawaii beach vacation for 4 under $350?!? I am telling you, taking a Hawaii family vacation on a budget IS completely possible. You just need to get a little creative :). We are walking you through step by step exactly how to make that heavily discounted travel magic happen below 👇🏼

Strategically using points and credit card bonuses IS your answer. (RESPONSIBLY in a way that will not only leave your credit score in tact but potentially even HIGHER than I was before). And when done well, can earn you some epic, nearly, free travel ✨

Hawaii family vacation on a budget

For years and years, we used our credit card like a debit card and just erased purchases when we took a vacation, dollar for point. Although that is better than using a debit card, there IS a better way. A few years ago we started to *really* learn how to get the most out of our normal every day spending and points. This is what we are going to show you below 🙂

Now we go on multiple dreamy family trips a year AND both have credit scores in the “excellent” range….so hear me out here 🙂

Make sure to check out our Points/Miles 101 guide for families here to answer all your burning questions. Like what about all the annual fees? Isn’t this just going to kill my credit score? So you spend thousands of extra to get a “free” vacations…yeah right. Answering all your FAQ’s and giving you a basic overview of the points world there- it’s a MUST READ.

Hawaii Family Vacation on a Budget – START HERE

Here’s exactly how to get a trip to Hawaii for a family of 4 for only $320.80!

If you are skeptical of the points world (like we were), we encourage you to just try it one time. If it’s not for you, no problem, move on with your life. The worst you can get out of it is a heavily discounted vacation, and your credit score either staying level or potentially even going UP.

*If you’re in a season of life where all your financial ducks are not in a row or you are in a ton of debt, we do NOT recommend this means of discounted travel. Don’t worry we have all been there :). But take some time to get that sorted out, then you can come back to the points strategy later!

1. You (Player 1) apply for our favorite travel rewards card-

Once you’ve decided if points for Hawaii is the right path for you, you will apply for your first card. (For Hawaii specifically we recommend applying a full 9-12 months before you want to travel, because those Hawaiian properties are HOT!).

Hawaii Beach resorts are insanely expensive, points is the way to go if you have a tight budget!

Our hands down favorite travel rewards card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It has TONS of travel partners and uses for your points, a low annual fee, and 4x points on dining and restaurants. The card provides just so much flexibility and value ongoing.

You will meet the minimum spend ($4,000 in 3 months) and then be rewarded with big ole’ pile of 60,000 bonus points. We wish we had enough normal everyday spending to rack up the amount of points needed for multiple vacations a year. The reality is most people don’t.

The bulk of our points are earned from credit card welcome bonuses. (Again, visit the FAQs here if that is a new and uncomfortable idea…we get it!)

*The key here is meeting the minimum spend with your normal everyday spending, NOT A DIME MORE! Making additional purchases you wouldn’t normally buy to get a welcome bonus, literally defeats the entire purpose of the “free” travel. 🙂 Set auto pay up to pay your statement balance in FULL as soon as you get your card. Interest fees = *not* free travel.

Apply for that golden card here. Even if you don’t want to go deep in the points world, it is absolutely something you want in your wallet if you travel at all.

2. You refer your spouse (Player 2) to that SAME card

….pocketing 15,000 referral points along the way. The next step is to refer your spouse to that very same card. Make sure to use your referral link, found either within your rewards section of your Chase account or using this link HERE.

Your spouse (or commonly called player 2) will meet the minimum spend on their card and will be rewarded with another pile of 60,000 points. That’s 135,000 points between both of you that you’ve now got in your pocket for H A W A I I 💃🏽.

If you are thinking wow that’s a whole lot of minimum spend to meet, we can’t do that, think again. 🙂 $4,000 in 3 months is only $1,333/month! Most families spend more than that on groceries, gas, and eating out for the month alone! We love this article here from Travel Freely on ideas to meet that amount without OVER spending.

Hawaii family vacation on a budget
How about Kauai for $329.50 for the whole family?! Count us in 🙂

3. You and spouse call into the Blue Bank to combine those points allllll together!

This is the really easy part! Sometimes you will already see your spouse’s card linked when you click “Combine Points” in the rewards section of your travel account, however more often it is not. Simply call into Chase customer service at 1-800-432-3117 and tell a representative you would like to combine you and your partner’s points.

You can combine points with anyone that you share a household with :).

Now you’ve got 60,000 (your bonus) + 15,000 (referral bonus) + 60,000 (your spouse’s bonus) = for a total of 135,000+ points to get you to Hawaii!

4. Player 1 will apply for their last card to get that Hawaii family vacation on a budget!

The last card you will apply for will be the Chase World of Hyatt card, to get you a few more nights at that dreamy Hawaiian hotel.

*The most important thing here is that player 1 does not apply for that card until 60-90 days after that first Chase Sapphire application!*

If done responsibly, “travel hacking” will most likely only increase your credit score. BUT if you don’t play by the rules, your credit WILL absolutely be very negatively impacted. Applying for multiple cards back to back to back will, without a doubt, do that.

Hyatt’s have the very best ongoing value when it comes to booking hotels on points, so this is a great card to have! It also offers a free night certificate every year to use on hotels valued at $300+/night…so more than worth hanging on to. (Although you don’t have to, more on that below :)).

family travel with points

Apply for the Chase World of Hyatt Card HERE– The final piece to your Hawaii family vacation on a budget puzzle!

(If the idea of applying for a 3rd card feels new and uncomfortable to you…just stop at card 2 and make it a kid free trip! The 135,000 points is enough to get a super cheap trip to Hawaii for just hubby and you :)).

5. Transfer Points to purchase your flights

There are a ton of ways to redeem your points for flights. The main thing you need to know is the power of TRANSFER PARTNERS. Transferring your points to a travel partner of a credit card will 9 times out of 10 get you the most value. Compared to just erasing a purchase on your card with those same points.

Southwest is a super easy transfer partner for beginners, so that is what we are going to use for this example. Southwest has flights to Hawaii for as low as 25,000-30,000 points RT if you can be a bit flexible on your dates. (even cheaper if you’re on the west coast!)

So if you don’t already have a rewards account with them, set one up! Check flight availability, and once confirmed you will transfer the needed points to SW for your Hawaii flights. **Keep in mind, once points are transferred, they can never be sent back!**

In your rewards section of your Chase account you will see a “Transfer your Points” option. Click that, find Southwest in the list and put in your SW loyalty number. Those points should show up instantly over in your SW account. When booking your Hawaii flights for your family, you will only now be responsible for paying the taxes on the flight. They are usually $11.20 per person for domestic flights!

The cash cost of these flights would be $1,500! …and that’s just to GET there.

6. Transfer Points to reserve your Hawaii Hotel

Lastly, that oh so dreamy Hawaiian resort. 🙂 SO you have probably about 35k points remaining in your Chase account and that 60,000 bonus sitting over at Hyatt.

Start by setting up a World of Hyatt membership account if you don’t already have one. Next, same drill as above, transfer those remaining Chase points over to your Hyatt account. You now will have 95,000 points+ (more with your points on your minimum spends) to spend on a hotel in Hawaii.

Hawaii for a family of 4 for $329.50! Bucket list trips ARE possible…let us show you how to take a Hawaii family vacation on a budget 🙂

*The BEST part is that Hyatt does not charge taxes or resort fees on award stays, so this is truly a FREE booking!*

The cash value for 4 nights at these luxury properties would be around $3,400! …I think I will choose the points 🙂

7. Enjoy magical (nearly) free Hawaiian family vacation

✨ BOOM Hawaii Family Vacation on a budget for a fraction of the normal cost! You did it! Do you see the power of points?! Just by signing up for 2-3 new cards, you earned yourself a nearly fully covered Hawaii family vacation on a budget for your entire fam!

So that total was 3 annual credit card fees ($95 x 3) + four sets of taxes on the flights ($44.50) = $329.50 ALL IN 🤯

Things to keep in mind…

✔️ Minimum Spend- you are ONLY making purchases you would normally make, not a dime more. (or it completely defeats the whole “free” travel part 😉)

✔️ After 1 year with the card, you have the option to downgrade to the no annual fee version of the card, ask for a retention offer, or cancel the card. This article on what to do with your cards after the vacation is SO helpful 🙂

✔️If you play by the rules and are RESPONSIBLY spending, paying your statement balance in FULL every single month, you will most likely only see your credit score go up!

Other Hawaii budget tips

If you want to extend your trip, but keep costs to a minimum, I would recommend booking a few additional nights at an Airbnb. Resort cash rates in Hawaii are just crazy high, so a vacation rental is the way to go for a longer stay.

A few other tips for keeping your Hawaii vacation costs to a minimum:

  • Shoot for eating out only 1 meal a day, this always really helps to keep our family’s travel costs low. If we are staying in a resort, stopping at the grocery store to have breakfast items in the room on hand. The gets one of your meals covered at a MUCH lower cost.
  • If you do eat out, don’t make every meal a fancy restaurant. The food trucks in Hawaii along the road are AMAZING
  • Focus your time on nature and activities that don’t require a ton of entrance fees etc. Nature, hikes, and beautiful views are FREE!
  • If you rent a car, we 100% recommend looking into Turo. If you haven’t heard of it, it is like the Airbnb of rental cars. This can save you HUNDREDS!
  • Be FLEXIBLE in your dates! Sometimes changing your flights by even just a day or two can save you so many points. Those points can then be put towards additional days at the resort.
  • We usually pick ONE “splurge” activity per trip that we all agree upon. This helps from those fun expenses snowballing and coming home with a massive unexpected bill!

We really hope this was helpful! Sending you all the Hawaii family vacation on a budget positive vibes! For more where this came from, FOLLOW us at @wayfarenco over on Instagram. We’ll show you how to take more dream family vacations for LESS! 👏🏻👏🏻

Budget Travel

Budget Family Travel: Our Top 3 Cost Slashing Hacks

Ok, I am going to give it to you straight…we’re not millionaires. We honestly don’t even have thousands of extra dollars in disposable income. Here in lays the problem- we LOVE to travel…and we LOVE to travel as a family (i.e. $$$$). Over the years (honestly out of desperation) we’ve gotten creative and resourceful to make adventures to bucket list destinations a regular reality. SO sharing here our top budget family travel hacks, to get you from dreaming to GOING…STAT.

Shockingly low cost (and sometimes even nearly free) trips are in your near future if you read on below and use these same hacks we do.

1. Leveraging credit card points (I know, I know you’ve seen it before…but hear us out)

I think most people hear using credit card points for free travel and have two thoughts. 1. “I just don’t spend enough to get that many points” or 2. “Oh no, I’m not interested in taking a deep dive into the travel hacking card world“.

I hear you on both of these. We also don’t spend enough that we are racking in hundreds of thousands of points a year. And we honestly keep things pretty simple around here when it comes to travel rewards.

BUT we do strategically and intentionally leverage credit cards to help us make our travel dreams a reality…because it’s FREE money. Money that we (personally…and I assume if you are reading this, you too) NEED to make our bucket list adventures happen.

(**I will put the disclaimer here that if you have a history of overspending, this probably isn’t the travel saving money tip for you right now. The key to this hack is to pay off your card in full EVERY month and not spend a dime more than you usually would. Or else it’s no longer free money).

So to begin, if you are still using a debit card for all your purchases…you are seriously missing out. And by missing out, I mean literally leaving heavily discounted family trips and free money on the table.

By simply opening a new credit card (known to actually *help* your credit score) and using those bonus miles towards key dream trips, we are able to save literally thousands on our vacations. Now, I hear your concerns already, believe me. We’ve got the full break down on how we leverage credit card rewards HERE, answering alllll your FAQs and concerns.

How to Maximize Rewards for Budget Family Travel

EXAMPLE: This summer, we really had our heart set on another big trip to Europe. But who really wants a $2500 dent in their bank account just for our 4 flights to get over there?! I will tell you…NOT ME.

So if we have a big trip in mind, 6-8 months before, we apply for a new credit card. The sole intention being using those opening bonus miles for a huge chunk of our travel expenses. For Europe 2022, we opened the Chase Sapphire card (the number one card we recommend for beginning to leverage travel rewards). This got us 100,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months (simply putting all normal expenses on this one card).

That equated to about $1,250!! More than enough to get 3 out 4 tickets to Europe fully covered (if finding a killer flight deal that is).

Have your spouse now do the exact same thing with your referral link (read me filling out the application FOR my spouse) and you just got your family tickets to Italy AND some of your accommodations covered! Again, we go into a lot more detail in our post here, so make sure to check that out!

If you’re paying your cards off IN FULL at the end of each month, you not only won’t damage your credit score, most likely you’re going to increase it. It’s a huge win, WIN.

Earning credit card point bonuses with spending we are already doing, has allowed our family to have the most life-changing experiences. A month in Italy, a high end resort in Cabo, a week in 30A with friends, visiting Great Smoky Mountain National Park, this summer the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal. And SO much more that we never could have afforded otherwise.

2. Relying on flight deals – Chasing the deal not the destination

One of the biggest ways we make our travel dreams a reality is by being flexible and patient. Flexible on where specifically we may go on a trip and the exact dates we go. As well as, patient for the right deal to come around.

Whenever possible we do really try to allow the deal to drive our destination. So at times we might say, “OK we want to go to Hawaii and Hawaii along during Fall Break”. But more often than not, we have a list of places we are interested in going soon. We then watch for the flight deals that come through, and book our Fall Break trip according to the best value.

We also make certain to be a bit flexible on the exact dates of our trip. Sometimes leaving only one day later can literally save you thousands. Take a look at the date grid below when we were booking our flights to the Azores Islands for this summer.

Adjusting our trip by two days, saved us THOUSANDS of dollars! This is what we mean by flexibility.

budget family travel hacks

How to find the best flight deals

Hands down our favorite way to score dirt cheap flight deals is Scott’s Cheap Flights.

Set your home airport (or airports you can easily access/get a cheap flight to) and then get daily notifications of amazing flight deals. These are typically abnormally lost cost fares to destinations across the world or mistake fares. Scott’s Cheap Flights is how we snagged our $400 tickets to Italy, our $89 tickets to Chicago for a wedding, and our under $300/each tickets to Cabo for our entire crew.

Never, ever will we pay full price for airplane tickets ever again.

So if you can have in mind not just one dream destination, but a handful, and be willing to adjust your trip by a few days if needed…you really can go on some epic family vacations. EVEN IF your budget says otherwise 🙂

3. Making money while you travel

This is our final travel hack in our three prong strategy of budget family travel. We don’t live on hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, so we have been forced to get creative if we actually want to be able to travel to our bucket list destinations.

It all started when we wanted to take a month long sabbatical in Italy with our little ones 4 years ago. We never could afford to pay both our mortgage at home AND an Airbnb for a month in Europe. Necessity is the mother of invention right?!

So we thought- what about if we try to capitalize on something we do own while it just sits empty for 4 weeks?! So we decided to try to list our house on Airbnb for only the month of our trip.

How to monetize your home while away

We got a few professional pictures done, did a bit of minimal decluttering, and low and behold within WEEKS of our listing going live, we got a booking for the entire month of our trip! (If you’re ever in the Dallas area, favorite our place for the perfect family-friendly stay!)

Now we Airbnb our home every single time we have a trip on the books and it usually almost fully offsets the costs of our accommodations at our vacation destination. We know this isn’t for everyone, but we do believe it may be for you more than you think 🙂

We’ve got a crazy thorough post with all the most popular FAQ’s and misconceptions we get here. If you are interested in making budget family travel an *actual* reality, this is something to seriously consider doing!

And if you’re interested in beginning to host on Airbnb to help offset those family travel expenses, we’d love to guide you along the way. Simply use our link here and let us know you did and we will help get you up and running!

Budget Family Travel IS POSSIBLE!

I think most people assume they could never travel to their dream destinations as a family. Think Paris, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Turks and Caicos, Spain! But we are here to say with a bit of creativity and leg work it is absolutely NOT out of reach for an average family, like us, to travel the world 🙂 We hope this was helpful and gives you that bit of inspiration to make that bucket list trip happen!

Budget Travel

Our Go-To Websites for Finding Dirt Cheap Flights

Why is airfare such a painful expense? I think it’s because it’s the cost just to GET to a destination (not even all the fun or stay). And when you are traveling as a family and everything is x4 or x5 or more, costs can add up QUICKLY. So over the years we’ve narrowed down the very best websites that have helped us find dirt cheap flights.

Because mama wants to go to Europe…and I don’t have $4k just to drop on getting there right?!

Some KEY principals that apply to all the resources below and are critical to the money saving flight game:

  1. Be Flexible – If you have a specific destination you want to fly to on very specific days, it will be harder to find the cheapest of cheap flights. Flexibility will serve you SO well if you’re looking to really save on airfare.
  2. Always Search in Incognito Mode – (Shift + ⌘ + N on a Mac) Those fancy algorithms now are absolutely tracking the flights you look at and how often you’ve looked at a specific route. This really can make a difference.
  3. If possible, always book directly with the airline – Using OTA’s (online travel agencies) can be great when hunting for the best deals, but not for actually purchasing tickets. If anything goes wrong with a flight (cancellation, delay etc), you are going to save yourself a big headache by booking directly with the airline. Also, you are quite literately leaving money on the table, because when booking with OTA’s there are no rewards or points.
Traveling internationally with kids
The only way we were able to take our kids on this bucket list trip to Italy was by finding dirt cheap flights through these resources and tios!

Scott’s Cheap Flights

Meet your new best friend…your really fun, dangerous best friend. Scott’s is our number one hack when it comes to getting dirt cheap flights.

Scott’s Cheap Flights is a website that finds incredible deals on international flights. When an airline makes a mistake (error in the system, typo, etc) or offers a great sale, Scott finds it and emails you with instructions on how to book- then boom, you go on that trip you have been dreaming about for way less than you ever thought possible.

So although Scott’s is a technically a subscription service, we think it’s the number one website in the travel game helping you find the very lowest cost on airfare. Through Scott’s email notifications, we ended up getting peak summer season tickets to Europe for $490/each (More on how we spent 1 month in Italy for $1k here). Normally they are $1000-1200! Yes, three tickets for the price of what would normally be ONE ticket…unreal right?!

cheap flights to europe

Scott’s Cheap Flights Tools

Simply set up your departure airport or any other airports you want to follow…and just wait for the travel savings to start flowing. Filter out the noise and only get deal alerts departing from your favorite airports. However, you might want to consider opening your departure city to more than just your hometown.

For example, if we were to see a $275 ticket from JFK to Spain like pictured above, we would jump on that immediately because we know we can find a $100-200 ticket from Dallas (our departure airport) to JFK if we watch that price for a bit. Our better yet cover that connection with our Southwest Points!

Know you want to head to Hawaii sometime next Spring? Sign up for the alerts and keep your eye peeled on your inbox for notifications to Hawaii. If you can be a bit flexible on your dates and departures I can guarantee you you will snag a killer deal that will make booking that trip no question!

More Scott’s Features!

I just love all the stats you can explore too, giving you the full confidence you are REALLY getting a good deal. See the screenshots below that show graphs from their site. They map out what the flight typically costs, Scott’s current deal they offered you to, and then the lowest cost flight for that route they’ve ever seen.

They do offer a free option that sends some deal alerts to your inbox. However, we highly recommend upgrading to the Premium Service. Premium includes 3x the deals sent, error/mistake fares, and all domestic deals. At $49 annually, or $15 every quarter, this more than makes up for itself even if you end up booking just one flight. Ever.

They also offer an Elite option, which include First Class and Business Class alerts…but although we’re self professed travel hacking experts, we’re not in that travel budget world yet.

If you walk away with nothing else from this blog post, we truly do hope you sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights. It has been hands down one of the top hacks in how we actually afford for our family to travel the world.

Google Flights

Our second favorite weapon of choice in our dirt cheap flight arsenal. I know, I know you’ve heard of Goggle Flights. BUT have you used all their tools to their full capacity?? Obviously Google Flights is a staple in the travel game for mapping out dates, routes, carriers, and more. It’s arguably the most user friendly option out there, but we will walk you through our favorite, most helpful features for getting the cheapest flights around.

If you can be a bit flexible in your dates, the calendar feature is GOLD. Take a look at this flight to Denmark here. The green values on the calendar are showing you the lowest cost days to fly that route. You can see how just altering your departure date by ONE day can cut the cost of your ticket in half! (now to be fair this was a deal alert I just pulled from a Scott’s notification. So although, the savings might not always be this steep, the calendar feature is incredibly helpful).

google flight calendar hack

The next tool I use when searching for cheap flights is the Date Grid feature…i.e. your new best friend if you are travel hacking obsessed like we are 🙂 This grid shows you the cheapest possible cost for every potential combination of dates. Those green stars are where the magic is! Again, flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to finding the cheapest possible flights to make your family travel dreams come true!

date grid on google flights for finding cheap flights

More Google Flights Tools

I then will always track the prices…not just for the specific dates I was looking at, but I click the “Flexible Dates” notification. This way I get alerts for a price drop not just for those specific days but the route in general (if I really have my eye on a particular destination). If you scroll down past the “Best Departing Flights” box, you can then see the “Prices are currently low/average/high for your trip” feature. Again, I love this type of data because it gives you the confidence to pull the trigger on a good deal or wait it out.

Lastly, the explore feature is SO helpful in finding cheap flights if you have a certain area in mind, For example, let’s say we want to go to Europe this summer (I mean when do I not want to go to Europe?!). Click the “Explore” feature in the left sidebar. Put in your departure airpot and dates you’d like to travel. Then zoom the map in on Europe. I can now see how much it would cost me to travel to EVERY city in Europe…how cool is that?!

You can also just leave the destination blank in the initial search field in Google Flights and it will show you the cheapest places to fly across the whole world for those dates! Move that price dial down to fit your budget and BOOM you’ve got attainable vacations right before your eyes.

explore feature on google flights

My ONLY negative with Google Flights is they don’t track Southwest flights in their algorithm…huge bummer. BUT other than that it is absolutely one of our top tools for getting dirt cheap flights.

Airfare WatchDog

Speakkinngggg of tracking Southwest Flights…

That is one of our very favorite features of Airfare Watchdog…that they actually allow you to search and track Southwest Flights, woohoo!

Southwest prohibits “any automatic device, program, or algorithm” from monitoring its fares. Lucky for us, Airfarewatchdog uses real people, not a program, to evaluate and list low fares from Southwest. They certainly don’t pay us for sending them traffic, but, as a low fare listing site, it would be a disservice to our users not to report on what Southwest offers.

Airfare Watchdog is definitely worth a look before booking any flight. We love their “Anywhere” feature to search for the cheapest flights across the world for your departure city. Also, under the “Flights” tab they really do have some cool search and compare features that other sites just don’t offer.

cheap flight deals on 
airfare watchdog

More Airfare Watchdog Features

They have a lot of the features of Google Flights (unfortunately not the as user-friendly nature), but we love that they offer a “Deal of the Day” or “Weekender Alerts.” These are great for if you know you have some time off but aren’t sure where to go.

Honestly, just personally the emails and marketing can get a bit spammy for me. BUT I will put up with a lot to snag a cheap flight! As with any third party site though (Including Goggle Flights), we always recommend you use those tools to find the best deal, but then book directly with the airline. This is a big NO in the travel world as one, they don’t offer any rewards (Use Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Travel portal for that). Secondly, if there are any flight interruptions, cancellations, or delays, working directly with the airline is going to have you SO much time and headaches! We used a third party site to book our tickets to Norway, and thennnn COVID happened and the trip of a lifetime was cancelled. We did finally get our flights fully refunded (see how we did that here), but it was a 4 month long mess to do so.


Skyscanner has been a tried and true source for cheap flights in the travel industry for quite some time now. I started using them when I lived in Italy 10+ years ago now, and their great deals and tools still hold up to this day. They have some really helpful features than can allow you find some incredible deals!

Skyscanner Features

We love the “any” feature. So for example you live in London, instead of just typing in Heathrow for your destination airport. You can put in London(Any) and be shown the cheapest routes from allll the airports surrounding you. Catching a bus from Standstead to Luton might be cheaper than a Heathrow flight. Also, we LOVE the “Everywhere” feature. Similar to the Google Flights Explore map. You can basically search the cheapest destinations to fly anywhere in the world, categorized by area, from you home city (bargain flight shoppers rejoice!!).

skyscanner hack to find cheap flights

Got a free weekend, but not sure where you want to go and don’t want to spend and arm and a leg? Dreaming of Europe but not sure the cheapest city to fly into? This feature is GOLD.

Just like Google Flights, there are some money-saving calendar tools. As well as, flight tracking notification tools. Skyscanner is my go-to resource if I am looking for cheap flights within Europe as well (i.e. Lisbon to Rome). Lastly, they also have a “Daily Best Deals” from and in the US they post which is really helpful. Overall, definitely a site to add to your finding dirt cheap flights arsenal!


Ok, Skiplagged will help you find hands down some of the cheapest flights on the internet. They do offer something I would say none of the other websites on this list do- which is what they call “hidden city ticketing.” Essentially, their algorithms put together the absolute cheapest itinerary for a destination, something that might take us on our own hours of leg work to find out. Usually, these itineraries are a little more complex, BUT they literally can save you hundreds of dollars.

More on Skiplagged’s Hidden City Feature

They say a “hidden-city flight” is a flight where you get off at the layover rather than the final destination. For example, a flight from LA to Salt Lake City might be $250, but a similar flight from LA to Dallas with a layover in Salt Lake City might be $130. If you’re going to Salt Lake City, they’ll show you both flights. If you choose the cheaper one, you get off the plane at the layover (Salt Lake City) rather than going to the final ticketed destination (Dallas).

Their tagline “Our flights are so cheap, United sued us…but we won” definitely speaks for itself.

skiplagged for cheap flights

Skiplagged shows you inefficiencies in airline prices, so you find deals on tickets you might not find anywhere else. They will also show you, like many others on this list, the regular cheapest rates…so you can be sure you really are getting an awesome money-saving deal.

ALSO- they have what they call “skiplagged hotels” which can save you up to 50% off stays! SO if you’re REALLY strapped on your budget and willing to have a bit of flexibility in your transit this is an amazing option. There can sometimes be not super convenient itineraries, or longer than average layovers. Because of the unique nature of the “hidden-city flights,” they also recommend just traveling with a carry-on. (So you don’t risk your bags being delivered to the final destination). But, if neither of those are a barrier, Skiplagged is a super valuable resource!

Next Vacay

Another subscription service for flight deals, and the cheapest one of the bunch. Like others, with Next Vacay you sign up for email notifications when flights from your designated departures cities go super low. We love that you can set these preferences, so that the emails you receive are really targeted specifically to you.

Next Vacay is free for the first month and then only $25 annually after that. I mean you really can’t go wrong here.

finding dirt cheap flights

I’d say the only negative with this option is they do have a book direct aspect of the site, where they want customers to book the flight deals directly through them. Because of this some times the deals aren’t as great as you may find with another subscription service. BUT still saving you hundreds nonetheless. Like mentioned above, when at all possible you really want to try to book directly with the airlines, for so many reasons!

Also, not to be missed, they have an awesome referral program! You can get $20 for every friend you refer! They get a free trial and you get a $20 gift card…a WIN WIN.

Three Cheers for Cheap Flights!

SO that’s it! Our go-to websites for finding the cheapest flights possible. Because there’s just some sort of high I get from knowing I got the absolute lowest price on a flight (anyone else?!). Especially when you are buying tickets x4 for a family. If you realllyyyy want to up your travel saving money game we encourage you to check out our post on travel hacking HERE and making money while you travel HERE.

Happy adventuring folks! We would love to know below the best deal you’ve ever found and how you found it, share below!

Budget Travel

A Beginner’s Guide to Travel Hacking for Families

If you’ve ever though “Gosh I really wish we could go to ______…but it’s just not in the budget”…then this post is for you 🙂 We like to say we have champagne family travel dreams, on a beer budget. Thankfully travel hacking has helped stretch our dollars a bit further and close that gap between dreaming and GOING. Read on below about how you can start earning free or nearly free travel, so you can make family adventures happen that you thought were totally out of reach.

Leveraging credit card rewards has gotten us:

  • Fully covered tickets to Italy for our family of 4
  • A kid-free weekend away in Napa
  • A weekend glamping in Texas Hill Country
  • Just booked! Spring break in Cabo (flights and hotel!) for $115

…and honestly SO much more! (and if you want to level up your travel hacking even FURTHER see our other trick here!)

What in the world is travel hacking?

Simply put, travel hacking is using credit card miles and points to get free (or nearly free) travel! We honestly didn’t start really intentionally leveraging credit card points and rewards until a few years ago. When we first got married over a decade ago, we used our debit card for everything (so much free money left on the table…insert crying face emojis here). Then about 5 years in, we discovered the beauty of using a credit card for all your normal purchases to earn reward points.

Now 11 years laters, we are fully reaping the benefits of travel rewards and leveraging our credit cards to their full capacity for OUR benefit. We wanted to travel with our two young girls, but transparently had little to no disposable income. One ticket to Europe on its own was pricey, but FOUR tickets to Europe was out f the question. So with a little bit of creativity and work, we’ve been able to travel on some EPIC family adventures. (Our month in Italy at the top of that list!)

Travel hacking isn’t for everyone…and that’s ok! BUT it can be an amazing tool to help maximize your budget and make your family travel dreams a reality. Even if you get just one travel reward credit card, it will make that bucket list trip that much more attainable.

travel hacking for families

…But is it sketchy??

Honestly, I hate the term “hacking” because it implies something illegal or sketchy. Thankfully, travel hacking is the farthest thing from that!

Anyone who knows me, knows I am an avid rule follower. That is why I love this tactic for leveraging free travel! It completely abides by the already determined rules set up and simply maximizes it.

I like to think about it more as a shortcut, or expert recommendation…like a “mom hack”. As long as you are earning and redeeming your points legally, travel hacking isn’t sketchy at all. I know it takes a bit of a mindset shift from the “avoid credit cards” at all costs message we grew up with, BUT this can be an incredible way to drastically reduce your expenses when it comes to your next family adventure.

What about my credit score?

I would say this is people’s number one concern with entertaining this strategy for earning free travel. However, if done responsibility leveraging credit cards, paying off your balance in full every month, and earning crazy discounted trips will most likely only increase your credit score.

Credit scores are determined by a vast number of things, but the main factor is debt to income ratio. So having lots of available credit (many open cards) and very little debt (paying off your card in full each month), can do wonders for your credit. Since starting travel hacking, our score has only gone up! Most serious travel hackers have scores of 800+ and above.

So no need to fear…IF done responsibility. That’s why I definitely recommend having some help and recommendations as you begin to navigate the world of travel rewards.

Is there a downside to travel hacking?

If you and open and close a ton of cards at once, yes your credit score will take a dive. If you open credit cards and don’t pay off your balance in full each month, yes your score will take a dive. I would say the only “downside” to travel hacking is if opening a new credit card makes you spend beyond your means, there can be serious consequences. If you make purchases you don’t have the money for…well then travel hacking just honestly probably isn’t for you at this time!

So you just keep opening new cards indefinitely?

This was personally my number one question as we jumped into the travel hacking world. Soooo you just continue to open a handful of cards each year? Won’t that get to be too much eventually?!?

Although, you can absolutely still earn rewards on continuing use of your credit card, the welcome bonuses are where you really reap the benefits. (i.e. “Spend x amount in the first 3 months and get 60,000 bonus points)

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So some of the serious travel hackers I follow yes open a handful of cards every single year (and still have credit scores of 800+ mind you). However, you can totally keep it simpler and not get SUPER deep into reward travel. Right now we think through the breaks and trips we have during the year and try to leverage opening new cards to help offset costs on those specific vacations only.

Long story short, it isn’t the number of cards you have open, it is if you are using the cards you do have responsibly. Are you paying off your balances in full each month? Are you allowing at least 90 days in between each new application? For example, Chase has the 5/24 rule, which says you can’t open more than 5 cards in a 24month period.

You can absolutely close cards if needed (I like this article on travel hacking responsibly from MoneyGeek). I would just always try to avoid closing your longest standing cards. Just like a good wine, credit bureaus like a good “aged” credit.

california coast with kids

How to Travel Hack – Getting Started!

Alright now that you know some of the basics (and we hopefully put some of your concerns at bay), you’re ready to get started in the world of travel rewards! Here are a few steps as you get started so you don’t feel in over your head.

1. Start slow and with a goal in mind

*goes and opens 5 credit cards to earn free travel*…nope, nope, don’t go do that my friend!

Take it slow, start with one card or one trip you have in mind you’d really love to do with your family but maybe don’t quite have the funds for. There is going to be a learning curve and you’re not going to earn a million points in one day. Take it slow…choose one card to start, see if travel hacking is for you, and go from there!

2. Pick the right card and apply!

There are a hundred and one travel credit cards out there, but hands down the one recommended over and over for travel rewards (from us and travel hacking experts alike) is the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

If you are looking at more domestic travel, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Card is our favorite entry card – and if you can earn that Companion Pass, that is GOLD. These two cards are what allowed us to book our spring break trip to Cabo (flights and hotel for $115!!).

Overall though, when looking at which card to open you want to look at a few key factors:

  • A strong welcome offer – Remember this is where the bulk of your points are coming from. (40k-75k is average…sometimes 100k depending on the time of year)
  • A realistic minimum spend – Spending $15,000 in the first 4 months is STOUT. Choose a card with a initial minimum spend that is in line with your normal monthly expenses
  • Low annual fee – Some of the more intense luxury cards have fees upwards of $695 a year (whoa!)
  • Ongoing Perks – 3x points on dining, 5x points on travel? TSA Pre-Check? Airport Lounge access? There are SO many perks that come along with cards

3. What about the minimum spend?

“Spend x amount in the first 3 months, and get 60,000 bonus points.” That minimum spend can be intimidating if you think about some massive purchase you need to make. BUT all you need to do is take your normal every day spending and put it on this new card.

For example on the Chase Sapphire Reserve I mentioned above, you need to spend $4000 in the first 3 months. That’s just over $1,300/month…between groceries, dining out, utility bills, insurance, all the extras of life- that is totally doable!

Again, the key here is not spending a dime more you normally would. Nor, putting more on the credit card than you can pay off in full…then it’s not actually FREE money is it?! Simply transfer your normal monthly spending to this new card- and BOOM you just earned yourself some free or greatly discounted travel!

*We also like applying for a new card when we know we have a big purchase coming up. That makes meeting that minimum spend and maximizing those welcome bonuses easy peezy lemon squeezy.

4. What about the annual fee?

Many cards have no annual fee or as low as $89 a year. And most times the perks of the card MORE than make up for the annual cost. For example, on the Chase Sapphire Reserve you get the 60,000 welcome bonus points (worth $750 in the Chase Travel Portal!), a $50 annual hotel credit, a free DoorDash subscription, 10% annual anniversary points, travel insurance, 5x points on travel through Ultimate Rewards, and 3x points on dining!

If you see that you really are not using the benefits of the card and that annual fee is not worth it you can do one of three things:

  1. Call the credit card company to ask what their current “retention offers” are. (i.e. awarding you bonus points to stay or offering to waive the annual fee)
  2. Call the credit card company and ask to downgrade to a free version of the same card
  3. Cancel the card
traveling to rome with kids

5. Pay off your card at the end of each month

I’ve said it over and over in this post, but it can’t be emphasized enough! With travel hacking, if you’re not paying off your cards in full each month…those travel rewards aren’t *actually* free money.

6. Earn rewards and redeem for FREE travel! Repeat!

Alright! You’ve signed up for your first travel rewards card, you’ve met the minimum spend, you earned that sweet, sweet welcome bonus. NOW is the fun part- redeeming your rewards!

If you have a Chase card, we highly recommend booking your travel through their Ultimate Rewards Portal. Your points are worth25% more to be exact! So that 60,000 welcome offer is now $750. That combined with using cheap flight hacking tools could get you 4 domestic flights or maybe even 2 international tickets abroad! Refer your husband for the same card, and now you’ve got an additional referral 15,000 points and he’s got his 60,000. Combine them all, and BAM your family is set for an epic adventure…and that’s just from ONE card! You will probably have to pay for the taxes and fees on the booking, but that is usually very minimal.

If not using a Chase card, we like cards that have transfer capability (most of the large ones do). Your points go SO much further when you can transfer them to the credit card’s transfer partners (i.e. airlines, hotels groups). For example, we were just looking at tickets to the Azores that were showing as upwards of $900RT in GoogleFlights, but 50k points round trip on United’s Award Flight Booking portal. (holy savings I KNOW!) This is the way to really maximize your benefits and make those far fetched family travel dreams a reality!

One of the best parts of travel hacking is that you can do it at your pace. If you want to be aggressive and apply for a few cards a year, the world is your oyster. If you want to start with earning just one trip for your family that is totally doable too! But travel hacking is hands down the best way to maximize the spending you are already doing and not leave (free!) money on the table. Pick the right card, earn that welcome bonus, and repeat! It is truly amazing where those points can take you!

SO we hope this super packed, fully comprehensive beginner’s guide to travel hacking was helpful! It’s not for everyone…but it has afforded us some family trips we never thought possible! And THAT is the greatest gift of all 🙂 Happy adventuring all!

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Budget Travel

Budget Travel // 5 Things We Don’t Buy, So We Can Travel MORE

We’ve got Champagne travel dreams on a Miller Lite budget…anyone else?

As small business owners, for years now, we’ve been scheming and dreaming of how to travel on a budget…well, because budget is all we got.

But we are determined to not let our finances limit the amount we can adventure- and we want the same for you! Traveling on a budget IS possible, if you’re willing to make some sacrifices in other areas that aren’t as important to you.

Over the years we’ve definitely adopted some minimal living ways, so that we can spend our money on what really brings us LIFE. So here’s a few minimal living ideas for you- 5 things you might consider cutting out of your budget, so that you can travel MORE.

traveling on a budget


Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to get that new pair of New Balance sneakers I’ve been eying. And although I do love clothes and definitely have an appreciation for timeless, quality fashion…I definitely don’t love those sneakers more than a really good, soul-filling adventure.

So buying brand new clothes, just out of want not need, on a monthly basis is just not something we’ve made room for in our budget. Now don’t get me wrong, we definitely buy clothes here and there as needed. But when we do, we definitely stick to places where we can get the most bang for our buck or with the less is more approach (buying one really high quality shirt instead of 4 I like that were a fourth of the price)

What about the kids though you ask? Our go-to is resale shops! If you haven’t utilized these more- it’s a MUST in minimal living 101. The incredible barley-worn steals you can find there for less than $5 is unreal. And let’s be honest the kids grow out of clothes so fast, it makes me feel a lot better than I didn’t spend $50 on that new dress they will only wear 5 months.

So yes, although those swipe-ups are reallllyyy tempting, I know if I want to actually have the money to take all those trips I am dreaming about, I’ve got to keep my eye on the prize!

minimal living


To be honest, this one isn’t too hard for us. We’ve never been “gadget people”, so choosing to not buy the latest iPhone or snag that new Frame TV I’ve been eyeing for a while now isn’t incredibly painful.

We’ve had the same TV since we were gifted it for our wedding present over 10 years ago! It’s still working totally fine and we know all those technology upgrades just add up over time. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it right?!

If you do need to make a larger electronics purchase- our go-to’s are always, always FB Marketplace and Ebay. Why pay full price when you can get (sometimes even a brand new item) for 30% less or more. Every.dollar.counts. (at least in our world it does) and living minimally in this area really allows us to experience more, which is just the sweet nectar of life is it not?!

Traveling on a budget is absolutely possible- you’ve just got to put your money where your mouth is. Literally 🙂

traveling on a budget


Nope, nope, nope….get it out of my house. Extra toys = extra clutter and more cleaning for Mom. We really do not purchase any additional toys, other than the very intentional gifts we choose for our girls on Christmas and their Birthdays. (and goodness knows the grandparents have this one covered for us and then some)

Less is so so much more.

We find in times that we are traveling and have only packed a small handful of toys, the kids always, always find a way to entertain themselves. And if anything it forces them to get more creative with the few toys they do have!

These are purchases we can easily forgo so that instead of that brand new Barbie dream house (and all the other endless list of toys they’d love), we can gift them a trip to a new National Park over their Fall Break or another epic month-long summer trip overseas.

When they are going off to college I am banking on them remembering that incredible beach town we stayed at on the Italian coast or that hike to the waterfall in the Smoky Mountains far more than a toy that probably will get donated in a years time anyway.

Investing in experience with our kids is our number one priority and we make sure our budget reflects that.

less is more


I know we’ll have some mixed opinions here. But for us, because of our limited budget, we just don’t have room for regular adventures to new places AND hefty monthly car payments.

So our strategy has always been – buy older, solid cars and own them outright.

No we’re not getting the latest 2021 Toyota 4Runner (although that sounds fabulous)…but we are doing our research, and finding a reliable 2009 4Runner with some miles on that is still in great working condition so we can own it in full.

For us, minimal living is all about having only what we need, and getting rid of everything we don’t. So why not completely cut out those monthly car payments (if you’re able of course) so those funds can go directly to regular, life-giving trips as a family that really fill your cup for years to come. We will never ever let traveling on a budget, or lack there of, be our excuse not not traveling.


Ok no one enjoys a margarita on the patio in peak early summer days more than me….but we try not to make buying drinks while out part of our regular routine. We all know how quickly that adds up and boom two Gin&Tonics later and you’ve doubled your dinner bill.

We do love eating out, visiting new restaurants, tryiiinnnggg to have a regular date night – so we have prioritized that in our budget. But we do feel like when not traveling alcohol is something we can easily (and far more economically) enjoy at home.

All the little sacrifices really do add up…traveling on a budget isn’t easy, but it’s always, always 100% worth it.

traveling on a budget


Alright, no no we’re not heartless spouses who hate each other. We just REALLY love traveling together. It is truly, truly our happiest place. We are our best selves when adventuring side by side…so we try to do so every chance time and budget allows.

And one way budget allows, is by not buying each other gifts for every single holiday (Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas…goodness it all adds up right?!).

Other than birthdays, we kind of have a standing rule that no gifts are expected. It totally takes the pressure off on both parities, and we both take so much more joy in knowing that money not spent is going towards our next getaway together.

Now 10 years and 2 (almost three!) kids later and living on a little more than a teacher’s salary we’ve been able to go just Luke and I to the California Coast, Vail, Napa, Santa Fe, Boston, New York, tons of local Texas weekends away and so many more – all because we prioritized EXPERIENCE together at the top of our budget.

I mean, there is NO greater gift in our books.

Living minimally in these ways allows us to traveling on a budget….but we’re TRAVELING! And you really can’t put a price on the value that adds to you and your kid’s lives!

Budget Travel

The Best Remote Airbnbs for less than $200/night

While 2020 may not be filled with the international trips you had planned (we were devastated to cancel our trip to Norway…WHY of all the years Corona??) that doesn’t mean all travel has to stop. These remote Airbnbs will have your travel soul filled once again.

We’ve been embracing this summer and finding joy in the things we can still do — like a last-minute road trip to a National Park we’ve never been to (plan your own National Park trip HERE)!

A getaway off the grid will help eliminate any of these “new normal” anxieties of travel regulations, mask mandates, and business closures. For a socially distanced getaway, plan a road trip to one of these remote Airbnbs (and don’t forget your road trip essentials).

Whether you want a unique stay in a renovated train car or a treehouse or you’re just looking for a cozy cabin in the woods, here are a few remote Airbnbs we can’t wait to book ourselves — all for under $200 a night, STEALS!

An A-Frame in the Woods


Where: Brook Park, Minnesota


The restored A-frame of our dreams! This precious 1978 A-frame cabin named after “Little North” in Swedish is located on 5 acres of woods along Snake River in Minnesota. The owners have restored the cabin and use it as an extension to their vintage shop in Minneapolis. The rehabilitated space focuses on sustainability and aims to keep era-specific furniture and pieces in the space. This place is clearly special and incredibly well decorated, at the top of our best remote Airbnbs in the US for SURE.

Brand New Studio Earthship

Where: Taos, New Mexico


If you’re ready for an out of this world adventure, behold the Studio Earthship. The owner built this house by hand and it’s eco-friendly — rainwater is caught and used to generate electricity while staying at a steady 72 degrees year-round. While the location is off the grid, you won’t be short with amenities; this house still features wifi, Netflix, TV, and a luxuriously deep tub to relax in.

Converted WWII Train Car with Patio


Where: Maryville, Tennessee


For any history buffs out there, book this converted train car dating back to World War Two. Platform1346 is a renovated troop train kitchen car that features wood flooring, modern furnishings, and an open layout. Relax under the stars with the outdoor fire pit, gazebo, and BBQ station. You’ll be greeted with one-of-a-kind details and exceptional hospitality — the hosts have worked to transform this train car, an airplane hangar, and an old camper trailer into unique Airbnb experiences.

Glass and Grain Bin Cottage

Where: Manhattan, Kansas


It seems they can transform anything into an Airbnb these days and this grain bin cottage is no different. If you’re looking for a unique stay in the Flint Hills, this stay is perfect for you! Two grain bins were connected using glass walls so you can sit and be one with nature without going outside — it’s the perfect combination to be in the middle of a peaceful sanctuary. Enjoy sipping your morning coffee in the living room, looking out the glass windows, or head outside to enjoy the fire pit and grill.

Gashes Fluss Haus


Asheville, North Carolina


OK I think this might be my favorite remote Airbnb on the list…while this two-story cottage is over 100 years old, you would never guess it because of its rustic yet modern transformation. It features whitewashed stone walls, but still feels incredibly cozy because of its open wood-burning stove. Cuddle up on the love seat or massage tired feet with their polished river-rock shower floor. It provides a cottage feel with modern touches — perfect for a cozy getaway.

Modern Off-the-Grid Treehouse 

Where: Tiller, Oregon


Warning: this stay is best for those that don’t have a fear of heights. This truly unique and private treehouse sits on 160 acres of land. So not only are you offered privacy sitting 40 feet in the air, Summit Prairie treehouse is also situated atop a 40-acre meadow surrounded by Umpqua National forest. This unique stay was modeled after Fire Lookout Towers built by the US Forest Service in the early 1900s. Old world inspiration enhanced with modern essentials — it features a full kitchen, running water, propane stove, heaters and lamps. Spend the day relaxing, lounging in hammocks down the hill, or soaking in the secluded wood-fired spring-fed hot tub.

The Majestic Mountain Retreat


Prescott, Arizona


A serene mountain retreat with decor and design worthy of a TV  show — this majestic retreat known as the Walker Getaway was featured on Cash Pad on CNBC and it shows! They made over this small cabin and now the thoughtful decor and details truly make this serene setting a place to enjoy. The house sits at 6,500 feet so you’re surrounded by beautiful vistas. Use the full kitchen or outdoor gas grill to cook and enjoy your meals at the alfresco dining area outside. This remote getaway just looks MAGICAL.

Charming Riverfront Cottage

Where: Brightwood, Oregon


Enjoy the beauty of Sandy River just 100 feet from the back door of this charming cottage. Just seven miles from town but surrounded by scenic pine trees, this one-level cottage has plenty to do. Utilize the fire pit for smores, enjoy the wood-burning fireplace, or relax outside and listen to the sound of the river. With Mt. Hood just 24 miles away, there’s also plenty to explore when you’re looking to enjoy the great outdoors.

Modern Vermont Cabin


Where: Wardsboro, Vermont


If you’re looking for a chic ski getaway, this Vermont cabin is within 20 minutes from Mount Snow and Stratton Mountain Resort. This cozy Adirondack style cabin is uniquely modern, with clean mid-century inspiration vastly different compared to surrounding cabins. Enjoy the outdoors to bike, hike, ski, or simply relax. Cuddle up with your favorite book in the living room next to the vintage fireplace for any cold-weather weekends. Of all the remote Airbnbs on the list, this one definitely looks the most cozy.

Modern Cabin Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Where: Big Island, Virginia


Escape from the busyness of life with this tiny house. At just over 300 square feet, this cabin is the definition of tiny living but still offers enough space and plenty to do. The surprisingly spacious floor plan can accommodate 5 people with a loft bedroom and cathedral ceilings. It sits just minutes from Blue Ridge Parkway, Appalachian Trail, and countless hiking trails. Located on 2 and a half acres and right near a mountain stream, this space is great for any outdoor enthusiasts.

Where are you looking forward to exploring next? Hopefully, we’ve left you with plenty of inspiration for your next off the grid vacation.

Budget Travel

Make Money While You Travel…BUT REALLY

Money, money, moneyyyyyy.

It’s got to be the #1 reason you don’t travel as much as you would like….are we right?! Because, as you know, adventuring is not cheap.

This has always been our biggest limitation in regards to vacationing as a family. Especially, as because the more our family grew, the more dollars we were cashing out for each trip.

This also was one of the biggest factors in why we were slow as mud to jump on traveling internationally with kids….”But it is SO much money, just to get over there!”…”Shouldn’t we wait and spend that money when we can *actually* enjoy it.”


Life is short friends, way too short to wait to go to Europe once the kids are out of the house.

The problem: travel is expensive.

The solution: Enter the literal most BRILLIANT idea we’ve ever had.

When planning our trip to Italy, we knew we needed to find some way to offset the costs of not only traveling overseas for a month, but also covering the expenses of our bills here (more on how we spent 1 month in Italy for $1k here).

Insert our means of making money while we travel HERE- Monetizing something that is ours, when we aren’t using it.

And so the idea of listing our own house on AirBnb whilst away on vacation came to life- and it was the most glorious, brilliant, divine, idea we’ve ever had.

Here’s how it works folks- we know the dates we will be away on a trip (whether that’s 2 days or 2 months), we open up those dates on our AirBnb listing, people book our home, we make money WHILE we travel…by doing NOTHING. We then simply try to find a stay in our vacation destination around the same total we make off our home while away.

Now, this isn’t for everyone. We’ve gotten the looks…..”You do what?!”….”So, you let people stay in YOUR house? Oh, I could never do that.”…”Isn’t that weird that strangers have been staying in your home?”

We totally get it. But for us, as long as they don’t sleep in our sheets and it allows us to more easily hit that book button on our next adventure…it’s an undeniable YES.

Below we are answering some FAQ’s/tips we typically get about renting our house out on AirBnb while we travel. Go ahead and get your own listing started HERE and earn $40 with your first booking (plus significantly reducing your travel expenses)-

  • Don’t feel like your house has to be PERFECT to be able to do this! – We had sooo many projects still left on the list the first time we booked our house during a trip (including a arm length hole in our laundry room wall). The only non-negotiable? That it’s CLEAN. Perfectly styled and every single project completed is absolutely not necessary.
  • Get professional photos taken– We reached out to our realtor and were able to get pictures taken of our house for $100! Worth every penny for how quickly those photos help our listing move. There has not been a single trip we haven’t had someone book our home since the inception of this idea in Spring of 2018!
  • Allot your Cleaning Fee to cover a pre and post cleaning– When setting up your listing, you will have the option to input a cleaning fee for guests. Use this to your advantage! We have our fee cover a cleaning before we leave (we’ve done it the hard way and attempted to get out home spick and span ourselves pre-travel and it was just wayyyy too stressful). Now we just straighten up pre-departure and leave the heavy lifting to someone else! And one of the very, very best parts of all of this?? Drumroll please…..You come home after a trip to a SPARKLING CLEAN house. Friends, is there ANYTHING better?!
  • What about your valuables? We are fairly minimalist (read our list of travel essentials for the less is more mama here), so we honestly do not have any “valuables” other than our laptop and a necklace or two. Options here are- lock your items in a safe, have a friend/family member hold onto them during your trip, or if the items are small enough, take them with you! You have the ability to approve or deny every single person that books your home…so check out their reviews, message them, get a feel for their character if you can. We have never once had an issue with this, or had a single item shown up missing/damaged, nor had anything but a pleasant experience with our travelers!
  • What about damage to the home? Shout out to AirBnb, because for every single host (at absolutely no additional cost to you) they offer their “Host Guarantee.” This provides you “property damage protection of up to $1 million USD for every host and every listing.” So truly, you have nothing to lose. Thankfully, we have yet to experience any damage or loss, but feel super confident knowing this is here as a back-up protection if needed. Go on, start setting up your own listing here now!
  • Second set of “AirBnb” guest towels and sheets– The one thing that weirded me out in thinking about other people staying in our home was them sleeping in our sheets (too weird right?!). That was my one non-negotiable with this whole idea. So we invested in a a very basic set of sheets and towels to pull out only when we have a booking. Once we get home our own sheets go back on and it’s like no one was ever there!

Use the link HERE to get your listing set up and earn $40 with your first booking (plus significantly reducing your travel expenses)! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. We would love to help you get out and adventure more in any way we can!

Budget Travel

Italy: 1 Month for $1k

“We can’t travel now, not with the kids at this age”

“We don’t have the money, we could never afford it.”

Sound familiar? We dreamed FOR YEARS of taking anniversary trips to Europe, but to leave the kids for that long? Could we really afford to invest thousands of dollars on just a week or two?

Finally, after way too many hours spent wanderlusting and booking nothing, we said ENOUGH. Europe was going to happen, with kids in tow. Because life is way too short and we didn’t want to wait 10 years to get back there!

It is possible and hopefully we can share with you a bit of our story and the helpful how’s to stop merely Insta-Wasting so much time and start booking, traveling, and if you have children, bringing them into that passion of yours too!

Being self-employed with Wayfaren, we absolutely know we have some of the flexibility others do not, and we do not take that for granted one second. But how we made it possible to spend 1 month in Italy for 1k (not including the cost of food and transportation within the city) can absolutely be applied to anyone, in any stage of life, in any situation.


Meet your new best friend…your really fun, dangerous best friend.

Scott’s Cheap Flights is a website that finds incredible deals on international flights. When an airline makes a mistake (error in the system, typo, etc) or offers a great sale, Scott finds it and emails you with instructions on how to book- then boom, you go on that trip you have been dreaming about for way less than you ever thought possible.

With Scott’s deal alerts, we ended up getting peak summer season tickets to Europe for $490/each. Normally they are $1000-1200! Yes, three tickets for the price of what would normally be ONE ticket…unreal right?!

To sign up and get the basic alerts is free. Or you can upgrade to the Premium Service (3x the deals sent directly to your inbox) which we would recommend. At $30 annually this more than makes up for itself even if you end up booking just one flight. Ever.

Simply set your departure city/cities and the deal alerts are catered specifically to you, straight to your inbox. Filter out the noise and only get deal alerts departing from your favorite airports, but consider opening your departure city to more than just your hometown. For example, if we were to see a $350 ticket from Denver to Greece, we would jump on that immediately because we know we can find a $100-200 ticket from Dallas (our departure airport) to Denver…or better yet cover the Dallas to Denver loop with points (more on that below).

PRO TIP: Always use an Incognito window when researching flights, that way you know you are getting the absolute lowest price! Airlines, hotels, search engines will adjust prices based on time of day, how many times you’ve viewed certain routes etc…Incognito always!

Know you want to head to Paris sometime in the Fall? Sign up for the alerts and keep you eye peeled on your inbox for notifications to Paris, if you can be a bit flexible on your dates and departures I can guarantee you you will snag a killer deal that will make booking that trip no question! For example, just today I received an email about NY to Paris flight for $270!


We use our credit cards for everything, and I mean everything. Maybe a bit unconventional for some, but when you keep a close tab on your bank account and use the credit card like a debit card, paying it off in full every month, you can rack up points pretty.darn.quickly with those welcome bonuses. And points equal FREE CASH, the only time in the world that money actually does grow on trees.

For our trip to Italy, we ended up redeeming $1980+ in credit cards points! Money we earned simply by using our credit card regularly for all personal and Wayfaren business purchases and snagging a solid welcome bonus.


If you are new to the travel hacking world, we recommend you start HERE with our beginner’s guide to travel hacking for families. Our favorite cards for travel rewards are hands down the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Southwest Rapid Rewards cards. When you sign up for a large credit card, you receive a large amount of points (40,000+) for spending x amount in the first few months of having that card…that alone pays for one international airline ticket. The Southwest Card we use for domestic flights, and the Sapphire we reserve for international redemptions.

Flights, hotels, Airbnb, car rentals…we’ve redeemed our points for nearly everything travel related over the years.

Signing up for travel geared credit cards from the beginning was a priority for us, as we know travel was something we loved and wanted to do more of, but couldn’t quite afford (can I get an Amen?). By using our credit cards like debit cards, paying them off in full each month, we were able to make our travels dreams a reality.


By now, if you haven’t heard of Airbnb you have been living under one very hard and heavy rock. Far and away our favorite way to travel, especially with kids. A comfortable and familiar home-like setting for little ones, more bang for your buck, the ease of being able to have separate rooms (read: more sleep for all), and what really feels like a more authentic experience in your destination city.

When researching apartments in Italy, even for very cramped accommodation with a poor location in the city, we were STILL looking at $2500-4000 for the month- and that was on the low end!

We knew we didn’t have the cash for that type of investment, yet we also didn’t want to give up on our dream of this Italy trip. So what did we do? We got creative and made it happen. Necessity is the mother of invention, isn’t it?


So, we decided to list our home on Airbnb. A few things fixed around the house, a handful of photos, and two weeks later our house was listed online. (If you are ever in the Dallas area, we would love to have you- book here!)

If we could even cover half of the cost of the apartment in Italy, we knew financially we could make the trip work. Sure enough, someone ended up booking our home for nearly the entire 4 weeks we were in Rome!

  • The nitty gritty- our apartment in Rome for 4 weeks was $3418.55
  • We made $3322.06 from renting our home on Airbnb while we were gone

Unreal right?! If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is. We were so thankful for that clearly divine provision. And we do this for every trip, whether it be a weekend away or another month abroad. Hosting is not for everyone, but we figured hey, as long as they aren’t sleeping in our sheets and it allows us to spend a month in Italy, I am quite alright with that.

Potentially interested in hosting through Airbnb? Start HERE to get our basics for hosting and set your listing set up today here!

Ready to book an apartment with Airbnb? Use the link here to get $40 off your first reservation!

We are confident and so excited that this could help enable you to stop just dreaming, and start GOING. We know how vital overcoming some of these major travel hurdles are. Feel free to comment below with any further questions, and if you book a trip, we want to hear!