Can we really afford a family trip to Europe?

Sometimes when we tell people about one of our family trips, like last Christmas’ trip to Portugal, we get funny looks.  The funny looks stem from a variety of sentiments.  Sometimes it’s the “Why would I want to take my children with me on a big trip?” response.  Sometimes it’s more along the lines of “Why go so far away?”  But often it’s as simple as “There is no way I could afford that.”

Just how much does a family trip to Europe cost?

Of course that depends.  And it’s true that planning a big trip overseas for your family is nothing to shake a stick at.  And it’s an investment.  But it doesn’t have to break the bank.  When I explain to folks that we got our family to Portugal on points and miles–i.e. free tickets–they think I’m a little less ridiculous.  After all, if you can get your family to Europe for next to nothing, it’s at least worth considering, right?

Sintra Family Picture

Enjoying Portugal’s National Palace at Sintra

In addition to saving money on airfare through the redemption of miles/points for tickets, there are other great ways to save.  Here are just a few high-level suggestions–and don’t worry, we’ll write more about each of these in the future.

The great thing about this list is there are additional benefits (beyond just saving money) to pretty much all of these.  Again, more to come on this, but wanted to at least put these on your radar.

While trip costs vary depending on where you go, how long you stay, and how full you plan to fill your days, I thought it might be helpful to list how much you can really save with these tips.

A middle-of-the road 8-day summertime trip for a family of four to Paris might look something like this:

Airfare$5,000
Hotel$2,000
Getting around$500
Dining$2,000
Sightseeing$500
Grand Total$10,000
Assumptions – coach tickets from your city to Paris in the summer; one hotel room in a 3-star hotel within a subway ride to Paris’ center; a mix of Taxi and subway/train; hotel breakfast included, but all other meals eaten at sit-down locations; two significant tourist sights per day (e.g. museums, monuments, etc.) plus $15 extra spending money per person per day.

Ten thousand dollars, eh?  YIKES.  Just as I feared!  Quick, plan our next trip to Galveston!  (Note: No hard feelings towards Galveston.  We’re Texans, and Galveston is a great beach getaway for our family that we enjoy from time to time.)  And of course the family trip expenses get even more painful if you have more than the two kids I’ve used in the example here.  So how in the world can normal people afford to make such a trip?

Well, take a look at a more savings-friendly estimate below:

Airfare$400
Hotel$1,400
Getting around$400
Dining$1,400
Sightseeing$400
Grand Total$4,000

Assumptions – coach tickets using points/miles from your city to Paris in the fall; a two-bedroom vacation rental within a subway ride to Paris’ center; a mix of taxi and subway/train, but done better; self-prepared breakfast, an occasional picnic lunch, and other meals eaten at sit-down locations; two significant tourist sights per day (done a bit more smartly) and $15 extra spending money per person per day (same as above).

You might be thinking I’m using smoke and mirrors here, but I promise, I’m just applying some of the money-saving travel tips that you’ll read about in more detail here at Family Explorers.  It really works.  We’ve done it with our family!  And like I said before–in many cases, the money-saving tips actually improve the quality of your trip.  Crazy how that works.

So dig in. Maybe $4,000 still sounds like a lot (you’re not alone in that sentiment!), but it may be within reach, especially if you had a big Orlando/Disneyworld trip on your radar with a similar budget.  If that trip included airline tickets, then you might be surprised that with some tricks of the trade, a week-long trip to Europe may price out similarly.

Happy trip planning!

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