Travel can be expensive even for a single adult, and the cost only goes up when kids are added to the mix. But that doesn’t have to mean a lifetime of staying at home. There are ways to travel cheap with kids!
With a little planning and some creativity, that family vacation can be more affordable than you might expect. Use these tips to save on your travel, activities, food, and souvenirs:
Your choice of vacation destination will probably have the biggest impact on the cost of the trip.
Remember that kids don’t need a fancy cruise, Caribbean resort, or whirlwind tour through Europe to have a good time. They might have even more fun camping out at a park 30 minutes from your house – think hiking, learning to fish, feasting on s’mores, and catching fireflies!
If roughing it with the little ones isn’t your idea of a good time, check with hotels or resorts near you to see if they offer a local discount. Enjoy being a tourist in your hometown and have a relaxing vacation without the stress and expense of travel.
When you do plan to travel some distance from home, price out several means of transportation. Factor in the cost of gas and wear and tear on the car, and compare it to flying or taking a bus or train.
The train can be particularly fun for kids, and it gives you a chance to spend more time together playing games, reading books or just being silly – and less time behind the wheel.
When you’re paying for the whole family, excursions like amusement parks and children’s museums can add up quickly. Instead, seek out low-cost and free activities around your vacation destination.
Call the Tourism Office, Visitors Bureau, or Chamber of Commerce for ideas. And don’t forget to search online for must-visit spots in the area.
If you plan on adding one or two paid activities to your trip, make sure to ask about coupons for discounts to popular attractions, and suggestions for kid-friendly activities unique to the area.
Seek out parks and playgrounds, hiking trails, free outdoor concerts, fireworks, or festivals. Is there a local college or semi-pro sports team with free or cheap tickets to games? How about a museum with free admission on certain days?
You may be surprised by just how many free attractions your destination has to offer…and by how entertaining simple things like visiting a new park can be for your children!
Constantly eating out while traveling can put a serious dent in your budget, and the food will most likely be higher in fat, calories, sugar, and sodium than what you serve at home.
To save money and calories, bring a stash of healthy snacks, drinks, and even meals that can be eaten on the go.
Granola bars, trail mix, fruit, cereal, applesauce, and nuts all tend to travel well. If you’ve got room for a cooler (and aren’t flying) throw in some yogurt, cut veggies, hummus, and other perishables. And don’t forget reusable bottles for water!
If you’re staying in a hotel, look for a room with a kitchenette, or even just a mini fridge and microwave, so you can eat some meals in the room. Cook and freeze dinners ahead of time so that you can simply reheat and serve while on vacation or plan some simple meals that won’t require a lot of time or space to make.
When you do want to eat out, look online for coupons, specials, and “kids eat free” deals before you choose a restaurant and head out.
Souvenirs are part of the fun of any vacation, but going overboard on trinkets can get costly. Avoid shelling out for treats, souvenirs, and gifts at every turn by coming up with a game plan for souvenirs ahead of time.
For older kids, consider giving them a set amount of spending money at the start of the trip. With little ones, steer clear of souvenir shops altogether and surprise them at the end of the trip with one special item to remember the vacation by.
No matter which method you use, search for souvenirs that will be used and loved for a long time, rather than ones that will be discarded after a few months.
When it comes to saving money when traveling with kids, a good plan is going to be the best way to ensure that you don’t blow your budget.
But, with just a little bit of preparation and effort, you’ll be able to travel cheap with kids and make memories that will last you all for a lifetime!