Jennifer Allen, the writer behind Wonders Within Reach, a travel blog for families with disabilities, and a mother of three, offers valuable insights and tips on traveling more for less.

No matter what your style of travel is, more travel is always better! As our family has grown, we’ve learned that we need to change some things to be able to continue traveling. Traveling with five is a completely different event than traveling as a couple! Over the years, we’ve found ways to lower costs and raise the number of trips we can take. The biggest hits on our travel budget are consistently transportation, accommodations, and food. Here’s what we’ve learned that’s helped us to not only continue traveling as a family of five, but to travel for less than we did as a family of two!


We’ve thoroughly researched car rental options countless times. Pretty consistently, Priceline turns up the best options. If it’s the rare time that it’s not the cheapest, it’s within a few dollars.

We don’t stop there! Once you’ve found the best option for your family, by filtering your search for your needs and then sorting it in order from lowest price to highest, look at the rental agency associated with the vehicle. Feel free to search the brand’s website, but you’re not likely to find a better deal than what they’ve pre-sold to Priceline. Instead, call them! Tell them the vehicle and price that you found online and ask if they can give you a better offer. This saves them from having to pay the booking fees through a third party, and gives the opportunity to build brand loyalty - so it’s a win for everyone.

This has saved us hundreds of dollars on a single rental. In the rare instance that someone tells you they can’t offer you a better deal, ask to speak to a manager. There’s a high chance that they just don’t know better.


Mother and her three kids enjoying a beach vacation

We don’t use hotels anymore. Does that sound extreme? Even with the best of deals, it’s becoming impossible to find a decent hotel room for less than $200 in most tourist destinations. That adds up quickly. Especially if it’s a hotel that mandates we take two rooms as a family of five!
Of course we could switch to any number of home rental platforms, at those prices. Instead, we found a way to save thousands of dollars.

HomeExchange is a yearly membership that costs the same as about one night in a hotel, but includes up to 365 nights of accommodations. It’s like a “buy one get 364 free” deal. This has drastically changed the way, and how often, we travel. Last year, we were able to travel often enough that we were spending less than $2 per night. That’s less than a cheap hostel, and you get a whole house!

The membership allows you to exchange homes as many times as you want within the year. There’s also a points system in place for non-reciprocal exchanges, which does wonders to increase the flexibility of where you can go and when. HomeExchange has been our biggest game changer in traveling more for less.

Travel with HomeExchange


Experiencing local cuisine is one of the highlights of travel, but this should look like more than just eating out. People often see eating in as a sacrifice required for budget travel, but it can also be a way to more fully immerse in a culture through shopping the local farm markets and experimenting with new fruits, vegetables, and spices.

An added perk to staying with HomeExchange is that you are instantly in community with locals. Our hosts have shared both the best places to dine out, and fantastic gems of local markets.

My husband is a chef, so we look for homes that boast a full kitchen ready to inspire. This is very different from a suite with cooking supplies. We often have instant access to not just the essential condiments, oils, and seasonings, but a variety of spices and unique equipment.

When we do opt for local restaurants, we’ll often grab it as takeout. That way we can splurge on something special that only Mom and Dad will enjoy, let the kids enjoy their Kraft mac and cheese for the night, and save on gratuities. We eat as a family in our home away from home, and everyone is happy. We eat well for less.

HomeExchangers often leave behind coupon books, state and national park passes, beach tags, or other memberships that make great local money savers!

Learn More About HomeExchange