Vacation costs can quickly add up, and if you’re traveling with kids, they can rack up even faster. But just like you, kids deserve a trip as well. Not only is travel a great learning and life experience for children, but the family bonding time and memories are irreplaceable. Here are 8 ways to save money while traveling with kids.
Ways to Save Money Traveling with Kids
- Stay at a hotel with kid-friendly amenities.
If camping is not on your agenda and you’ll be staying at a hotel, opt for one with kid-friendly amenities. A pool, waterpark, game room, or park is guaranteed to give you hours of free entertainment for your kids. Simply ask what is offered for children. Hotels can offer free meals, complimentary cookies and milk, game systems in the room, or even guided activities for them. Read more: 9 Ways to Save on Hotels.
- Bring the fun with you.
No matter where you’re staying, it’s always a good idea to bring some fun with you. There’s always a chance of a family member feeling sick, the weather is bad, or an unforeseen closure or change of plans. Instead of then choosing a costly activity in desperation or renting an overpriced movie in the hotel room, have items with you. Bring hand held games or download apps that are geared towards your kids. Or for classic entertainment, bring travel sized board games, cards, and puzzles, books, coloring books, and movies. Read more: 10 Free Game Apps for Kids.
- Find restaurant deals for kids.
Restaurant bills can add up pretty fast especially on vacation so you have to make good choices to save money. Many restaurants offer deals for kids including kids eat free with a purchase of an adult entrée. Before you order off the kids menu, compare prices. The children’s menus are generally much smaller portions so it may be worth it just to get the regular price. Read more: Restaurant Cash Back This Quarter.
- Skip the souvenirs.
Both adults and kids can be easily tempted to stock up on souvenirs while on vacation, but it’s not the smartest financial decision. Most souvenirs get lost, broken, or tossed aside not too long after coming home from a vacation. Instead of spending money on the souvenir, encourage your kids to take photos. Let them take as many photos that they want. When they come back from the trip, they can make a collage, a scrap book, or simply frame the pictures. Another great idea is to encourage your children to keep a journal of the trip. Not only are they improving their writing skills, but they can decorate it when they get home for a nice keepsake. Read more: Tips for Buying Souvenirs and How to Find Them For Free.
- Let them have a budget.
If you feel like a photo or journal isn’t enough for a keepsake, give your older children a budget. Before the trip, simply hand them their money for the trip. Whether it’s $5 for $30, they’ll be much more conscious of what they want if it’s their money instead of yours. For younger children, just buy smart and limit the purchase to one item. Buy something they can use or are in need of anyway like a blanket, a book, or puzzle. Read more: 6 Travel and Money Myths.
Camping is not only incredibly affordable, but it’s a unique, fun experience. Even if you don’t want to spend a lot on transportation, you can find a campground nearby. Find a campground that suits your family’s interests like hiking, biking, fishing, or near a beach. Bring a cooler and grill for cooking your meals and lots of sunscreen, balls, and outdoor gear for entertainment. Read more: 9 Tips to Save Money on Vacation.
- Pack drinks and snacks.
Wherever you’re headed, it’s always smart to carry along drinks and snacks. Whether they are running around an amusement park, playing at the beach, or exploring a big city, kids need to stay hydrated. Drink costs can quickly add up so stocking up on beverages or bringing a refillable water bottle is a money saver. Also, bringing your own allows you to avoid overly sugar loaded drinks that are only going to make your kids more thirsty. Bringing healthy snacks like granola bars, pretzels, and fruits is the best way to hold your pack over until dinner. Read more: Tips for Taking a Practical Vacation.
- Learn to say no.
Possibly the most effective thing you can bring with you on a vacation with kids is the ability to say no. Before you go, explain that just like at home, there is a travel budget. If children are old enough, it’s a great lesson for them to learn money management and responsible choices. Older children and teens can even help plan the trip by finding affordable activities, deals, and free days or reduced admission to local places. Read more: How to Make a Travel Budget.
How do you save money traveling with kids?
Good tips. We have a closet full of games, which includes a shelf of good travel games. We always have our son choose some appropriate games for travel and our destination. We will be staying in a rented condo at Lake Tahoe for our upcoming summer vacation. We will probably eat out, but we plan to fix quite a few meals in the condo.
Definitely a good tip to avoid souvenirs. If we’re honest with ourselves it’s very rare that we care for the junk we buy on our travels.