One Big Trip or More Frequent Smaller Trips?

Family Travel

I am starting to think about possibilities for our next family holiday. Is it better to save up for a longer time for one big trip or to take more frequent smaller trips?

Big Trip Options

We have discussed visiting the USA and possibly Canada for 3-4 weeks.  Our initial estimate of the trip is that we would need to save up approximately $A20000 ($US21000/€17000/£14000) to do the trip we want as a family with 2 adults and 3 children.  As a result of our current employment and financial situation we will need several years of saving to reach this goal.  The advantage of waiting a few years is that our youngest child should be tall enough to go on all of the rides at Disneyland.

Another big trip which we have thought about is to take 2-3 months to drive around the centre and/or western coast of Australia.  I have created some initial estimates of distance, time and cost required.  If we use our sedan with either a camping or camper trailer option for accommodation the options are as follows:

Name Route

Approximate Distance

Approximate Weeks

Approximate Cost (Accom, Fuel, camper trailer hire)

Small Loop Brisbane, Mount Isa, Uluru, Adelaide, Brisbane

8000 km

6 weeks


Medium Loop Brisbane, Mount Isa, Darwin, Uluru, Adelaide, Brisbane

10000 km

8 weeks


Big Loop Brisbane, Mount Isa, Uluru, Darwin, West Coast, Perth, Nullarbor, Adelaide, Brisbane

16000 km

12 weeks


Big Figure 8 Brisbane, Mount Isa, Uluru, Adelaide, Nullarbor, Perth, West Coast, Darwin, East Coast, Brisbane

17000 km

14 weeks


If anyone is interested in the specific itineraries for each loop please request in the comments.  There are no short cuts you can take with a conventional vehicle.

Even though we would be mostly self-sufficient, the costs still add up to a significant expenditure.  We also have the option to fly to Alice Springs and Uluru and hire a vehicle so a two week holiday to that area would cost approximately $A6000.

Smaller Trip Options

Our other option is to focus on doing more regular small trips of 1-2 weeks to the local area around Brisbane where we live.  Some options include camping or going on a cruise ship.  A local camping trip for one week will probably cost approximately $A500-$A1000 for one week.  A local cruise option on special will cost approximately $A3000-$A4000, not counting the issue of how to fit 5 of us into a cabin (all of the local ships seem to cater for groups of 4 people with no connecting doors for cabins).

We could also plan to visit destinations such as the South Pacific Islands, New Zealand and South East Asia for $A5000-$A10000 for a 1-2 week trip.

Big Trip or More Smaller Trips?

While my heart yearns for the big trips, my practical side says that we would be better off planning more regular smaller trips for now, and save the bigger trips for later on (maybe when we only have to pay for two of us!!).

What would you recommend?  As a family of five is it better to take more regular smaller trips or save up for a longer time for the big trips?  Which option will our children remember better?

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5 thoughts on “One Big Trip or More Frequent Smaller Trips?”

  1. Hmmm… that’s a tough one! It sounds like a few smaller trips might be a good option. Even if you couldn’t go quite as far on your shorter trips, it would space out the fun throughout the year (and space out the costs, too!)

    I love your camping idea… renting a camper van could be a really fun and family friendly option.

    • It is a bit of a dilemma… But we have a strong focus on the USA & Canada trip and if we choose a cheaper more local option we just won’t be able to anytime shortly.

  2. I think a trip around Australia would be wonderful. The camping idea would be such fun for the children and it’s almost more of an adventure than jetting on a long haul flight to the US.

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