Travel hacking for families, especially large families, is a little harder than travel hacking just for a couple’s trips or solo trips. You, obviously, need more points and will use more points. It certainly isn’t impossible as shown by Alex’s recent Maui trip where she had to find flights and accommodations for six people! She even invited my husband and me so she needed a bigger place and it was amazing. It is totally worth it for those amazing memories!
Here are some things to take into consideration if you are planning to travel hack a trip for a large family:
Be reasonable about the number of trips you can earn points with for a family. I can travel with points several times a year because I am going with a friend or my husband usually. If you have a family, it is reasonable to plan a trip or two a year with points.
Alex usually plans a family trip with points, a trip with her hubby, and a girl’s trip with points. That is actually a reasonable plan if you consistently apply for bonus signups. This isn’t going to happen at first for a beginner, but you can end up with a plan like hers. Travel hacking for families takes a little more planning but you can do it!
Travel hacking for families, especially in the beginning, as you try to earn more points, may not be free. You may still have to choose what to pay for. However, you can certainly reduce your travel expenses. Maybe you choose to use points for your hotels and drive to your destination. Maybe you choose to use miles for flights and pay for an Airbnb. This is a good choice when you have a large family as getting more than one room can use up a lot of points!
Often when my daughters and I travel we will book an Airbnb so we can all stay in the same unit and then just use our miles for our flights. Reducing travel expenses when travel hacking for a family is a win-win too. You might want to be content with reducing expenses for family travel and then saving your almost-free travel with points and miles for a couples trip or girl’s trip.
You could even rent your house out while you vacation and use that money to pay for things you can’t use points/miles on. One of my daughters does this every summer.
There are some great hotels for families like the IHG Staybridge Suites, the Hyatt Place, and the Marriott Residence Inn. Not only are these hotels less expensive when you are using points, they usually provide breakfast. This really helps a family save money on a trip.
Looking for hotels that offer two queen beds and a pull-out sofa makes it easy to accommodate a family of 4-6. There are so many nice, clean family hotels available to book with points!
Southwest is a great family-friendly airline. Not only are your bags free, saving tons of money, but flight redemptions are also very reasonable. For instance, just getting one of the following Southwest cards right now, you would get 65,000 Southwest Rewards helping you towards several free flights.
Getting the Southwest Companion Pass is another way to save on family travel. Alex and her husband alternate who gets it and so they always have it, saving their family a lot in family travel.
Food is a major purchase when you are traveling with a family. Having a fridge and a small kitchen saves so much money! Look for places that at least have a fridge so you can purchase breakfast and lunch stuff. If you can mainly only eat out for dinner, you will save a lot of money.
When my kids were small, we stayed at Marriott Residence Inns a lot because we had a small kitchen. They also serve a great breakfast and usually, on weeknights, a small snack. This was often pizza or appetizers that were so substantial that it could pass for dinner sometimes. This really cut down on our travel costs.
Recently, when we were in Maui where food is SUPER expensive, Alex brought some nonperishable food and snacks for her kids in a suitcase. When we saw the cost of food in the grocery store, she was really happy she had done this!
We often talk about travel hacking in 2-player mode. This means one adult in the family gets a credit card for themselves. Do not add the other person on as an authorized user. Later you can refer them to the card, get a referral bonus, and they can get the bonus points again. Travel hacking for family trips takes more points and so you want as many as you can get. This is always an important rule in travel hacking but even more important to remember with travel hacking for families.
Having an involved partner is so important for family travel hacking. Encourage them to read our post on credit card myths if they are worried about a credit card score going down. Encourage them to read our trip destination posts and see where we’ve gone. You really need that partner onboard!
Additionally, if you can handle spending more on your minimum spending, get credit card signup bonuses more often. An easy way to get approved more often is to alternate who applies. I am working on meeting the minimum spend on a credit card now. As soon as I get close to meeting it, in about 2 months, I’ll have my husband apply for a new card. It is through these crazy signup bonuses and taking advantage of limited-time offers that you get more and more points – all needed for family travel!
Just as it takes a little more time to save up money for a family trip, it will take a little more time to save up your points for a family trip. Alex does it year after year and you can too! And those memories you will make together will be priceless.
Travel hacking for families will take more points but is totally doable. Plan on finding family-friendly hotels with free breakfasts and more beds. Dedicate your family to put all your expenses on a credit card and get signup bonuses more often. Having a great family vacation every year that you pay for with points is a great travel hacking goal.
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