I am a stay at home mama on a limited budget. We are constantly cutting corners to stay afloat. Medical school was not built for families, especially one like ours with children who have medical problems. We live off student loan checks that only come twice a year and a per-diem paramedic job that my husband has on the side to help us get by. So now you are probably wondering how we manage to travel so much on a shoestring budget. Well let me tell you it’s not easy!
- We budget. I know this is a given since we are in medical school but everything we do is budgeted for. We even budget on vacation. It’s important to make a plan of all your travel expenses including hotel, food, and souvenirs. We even try to over budget in order to make sure we have some room for unplanned necessities.
- We put a little bit aside each week. Taking as little as $25 out of your paycheck every other week can add up to $650 at the end of the year! That can easily pay for a relaxing getaway or a fun family weekend.
- We stay with family whenever possible. Not only does that save us on hotel cost but it also fills our “home sickness” gap since we live in SC and most of our family live up north.
- We drive everywhere! Our mini van was the best purchase we have ever made! It can easily turn into our home away from home when traveling. Plane tickets for a family of five would cost a fortune. So we drive, and if we can’t drive or afford to fly then we don’t go. Someday my husband and I dream of traveling the world on a “Doctors salary” but until then no First Class for us!
- We bring food from home! Not only does this save us some serious cash but also since I have two children with food allergies it gives us the peace of mind that everything they eat is safe. We always make sure to pack breakfast and snacks since those are the most convenient meals to travel with. We do enjoy eating out every once in awhile but only if it’s in the budget! Another way to save some money while on vacation is by splitting or sharing meals. We can order two adult meals and it will easily feed four of us. We also eat a lot of pizza when traveling because a large pizza will feed us all, and it is so cheap!
- We use travel points from our credit card. We put gas and groceries on our credit card each week then pay it off. By doing this we earn points that we use to pay for things like airfare & hotels. We love using the Disney Chase card because we can convert our points to Disney dollars and use it when we vacation in Disney. Nothing makes a Mickey bar taste sweeter than knowing it was purchased using your free credit card points!
- We use websites like Priceline, Orbitz & Hotels.com. Last year we had to travel to Boston quite often because of my son’s medical condition. Over the course of a year we stayed in over ten hotels. If you book ten hotel nights using the Hotel.com website you earn a free night stay. We just recently used our free hotel night and stayed at a gorgeous hotel in Charlotte, NC. Priceline comes in handy when we have an idea of where we want to stay but also a price point to stick to. It has been super helpful to be able to stay on budget while finding fabulous four and five star hotels. Priceline is also good for last minute travel deals. Orbitz is a great tool because you can earn Orbucks. Every time you book with them you can earn a number of Orbucks, then you can use the Orbucks to pay for future travel on the Orbitz website. You have to sign up to earn rewards though!
My husband and I made a pact prior to him starting medical school that we would never get too busy making a living that we forgot to make a life. Now go out and see the world! Go to as many places as you can! You can always make money but you can’t always make memories (especially Disney memories)!
I look forward to hearing other ways you and your family save on travel!