• Ryan

Vacationing Without Kids is a Major Deal

Last summer, my parents were nice enough to bring me along for a family cruise vacation to the Caribbean. We rented two rooms - one for my younger brother and I, and the other housing my parents plus my little sister. After hanging out for awhile, I realized my brother was as staunchly childfree as I am; he also got me into financial independence, so it turns out we're quite alike!

After a formal dinner where we witnessed kids flossing on the dance floor to smooth jazz, we started thinking through what it must be like for their parents.


"Imagine paying for extra flights and cabins!"

My bother and I had just gotten jobs, and our cruise line app showed the bill breakdown per person, so we were especially conscious of the expenses we were putting on our parents, and grateful they wanted to have us along.

But it got us thinking, how much more did this vacation cost to have us along?


If the kids are old enough to travel, they probably need their own plane seats. There's going to be a linear cost increase per child, with the first being the most impactful: one flight added to two is a 50% price hike.

In my family's case, the cost was even greater due to where I was travelling from.

My closest airport is small, so it cost $250 for me to fly down to Miami. For my parents and siblings, they got a rate of about $125/person. Let's see how that shakes out:

Price for couple alone: 2*$125 = $250

Price including kids: 4*$125 + $250 = $750

That's a $500 difference just getting to the vacation! Let's move on.

Cruise Rooms (aka Hotel)

Cruise rooms are tiny: the ones we rented had 70 square feet (that's like 10 times smaller than my apartment). It's cramped, and they're not exactly cheap. I noticed the cost for a week's cruise was about $300 a person, and that's in addition to the extra charge per room.

And if you have kids, you're probably going to want an extra room. If you have one youngish kid, you can probably make do with a little less privacy. But once you have an adolescent or multiple kids, good luck all fitting into a 70 square foot room and still enjoying your vacation!

My brother and I roomed together, and my parents and sister shared the other.

This gives us the following numbers:

Price for couple alone: 2*$300= $600 + 1 room fee

Price including kids: 5*$300= $1500 + 2 room fees

A week of food and shelter really ups the price per person, and now we're seeing a $900 difference between this part of the vacation, plus potentially the cost for an extra room.

Extra Itinerary Items

Snorkeling: Nemo not Included

The price of the cruise covered food and activities on the boat, but you still had to sign up for activities and pay to eat while you're ashore. I didn't get to see the exact breakdown for each of these items, but it was in the ballpark of $50 a person per excursion (snorkeling, local chocolate) and $5 a person for trying the local food or grabbing a trinket souvenir.

We had excursions about every other day, ending up at three total.

Let's see how that affects our numbers:

Price for couple alone: 3* ( 2*$50 + 2*$5 ) = $330

Price including kids: 3* ( 5*$50 + 5*$5 ) = $825

For this portion of the vacation, we see a difference of $495. If only the extra cost let us see extra fish!

Adding it all up

For my family with three kids, the price came out to

$750 (flights) + $1500 (rooms and cruise) + $825 (excursions and local goods) = $3075

Ouch. But for a week-long trip to the Caribbean, maybe it was worth it! My parents love their vacations.

However, let's see how much this trip would have cost my parents without having us along.

They could have gotten by with

$250 (flights) + $600 (rooms and cruise) + $330 (excursions and local goods) = $1180

I think that's way more reasonable for a week vacation, and it's almost a third of the price.

For my family with three kids, the total difference in price came out to

$500 (flights) + $900 (rooms and cruise) + $495 (excursions and local goods) = $1895

Now, I could make a claim that with the leftover money, my parents could have taken a three-week trip instead of one, or taken an extra vacation this year, but that would go directly against my last post about splurging.

So instead, let's say that it would be much easier for my parents to fit their vacation plans into their yearly budget without kids.

Wrapping up

My parents would probably be horrified to see this post; they'd immediately tell me how much they love me and my siblings, and how we're worth the extra cost - and I believe them (yay happy families!).

It all ties back to what you want and how you want to spend your resources. My parents wanted kids and worked out the cost into their plans - Although it's worth noting that vacations are not included in the estimated cost to raise a child.

From my perspective, both vacations and kids are optional expenses. Only vacations are worth it to me, and it's easier to fit them in my budget without children.

What are your opinions on saving and taking vacations? I try to fit at least one on a year, and I'm thinking of a national park in either Seattle or New York in 2020. Let me know if /where you're travelling down below!

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