Growing up, travel meant a 12+ hour road trip to relative’s house. For some reason, no matter when we left it seemed like we always ended up arriving at our destination in the middle of the night…our poor relatives!
Despite my intense whining about road trips, traveling as a family created some of my favorite childhood memories. Memories that I want to make as a family with my children.
Creating family memories on a budget is the theme of a new series we are launching today on Kids Activities Blog! We are giddy to be working with Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers (ELP) program which can help you find trustworthy and competent investment advisors, realtors, insurance agents or tax services in your hometown.
Travel is an important part of my family’s holidays and there are ways to keep costs down so that money doesn’t become another holiday stressor. Here are 12 financially savvy ways to travel with kids – without breaking the holiday budget:
12 Ways to Save Money on Travel with Kids
Bunk Together – Finding a hotel room that sleeps 5 is sometimes a challenge, but doing the extra homework to find it can really save on the necessity for an additional room. The good news is that rooms that sleep more than 4 often are suites or mini-suites which include a bit more space and a kitchen area which is a huge help when traveling with kids.
Divvy Out the Greenbacks – This seems quite contrary to saving money, but it works! Give each kid, ages seven and up, their own money for food and extra expenses (or plan ahead by having them save from their allowance/chores). Once they realize the responsibility, the begging will end and the frugal-spending will begin! It’s a great way to teach your kids to consider purchases before making the plunge. You may catch them calculating numbers in their head before they buy that $5.00 souvenir!
Pack a Lunch…and a Snack – Hungry kids equal cranky kids. There is no better way to ruin a holiday adventure than whiney, grumpy kids. Keep them happy by packing their favorite snacks and drinks. My kids have a snack area in their travel backpack that is reserved for special items that we don’t regularly eat at home. This will also keep you from purchasing over-priced snacks along the way. Pack some heftier foods as well to give your family a few frugal meals to enjoy on the road. This will save you time and money as you pass the expensive restaurants and get to your destination at record time.
Travel During the Week – If your family chooses to travel by air, try to book your flights on Tuesday. Rates are typically 35% cheaper on Tuesdays and 45% more on Sundays! If your flights charge for extra luggage, then pack light. Whatever items are non-essentials, toss to the wind! A bonus to traveling during the week is that there are also less crowds to navigate.
Celebrate the Holiday on Your Time – My husband’s work schedule didn’t allow us to celebrate Christmas on December 25 for the first 15 years we were married. It became our family tradition to pick a more convenient date! With that flexibility, you can choose cheaper itineraries, less-trafficked times, and even squeeze in a post-holiday sale or two.
Buddy-up! – Are any of your friends or other relatives traveling to the same destination? Consider traveling together. You can save fuel and room costs traveling with some of your favorite peeps. At many destinations, a large group of people can rent out much nicer accommodations for less dough than an average hotel stay for four people. You will also have access to a full kitchen where you can cook meals to save on food costs and often a laundry room that can help a family pack lighter for travel. If you’re traveling buddies have kids, consider trading out free baby-sitting services in order to get some holiday shopping or sightseeing in. It’s a win-win deal!
Haggle. Haggle. Haggle. – Don’t be shy. Ask for discounts, combined package deals or special discounts. Is your spouse in the military? Ask about military discounts. Employers, banks, travel clubs, roadside assistance contracts, and even some PTA’s have connections that often extend discounts to members.
Pack Your Own Souvenirs - As silly as it sounds, you will be glad you did this when you see the price of souvenirs! Many key chains, mugs and t-shirts can also be found at your large super-stores. If you are visiting Disney world, grab a Disney brand t-shirt before your trip at your ask your child’s favorite Disney characters to autograph them. Many of kid’s favorite characters are at other theme parks as well. You could get the characters to autograph hats, special notebooks and more.
Hit the Restaurants for Lunch - Part of the fun of vacation is eating out, but if you really want to stay within your frugal budget, then eat lunch out and dinner at your place of residence. Some of our favorite vacation restaurant’s lunch menu is over half-price from the dinner menu and at lunch you don’t have as many courses to order! If you are determined to go to dinner, then consider an early reservation. Many restaurants will offer discounts before their traditional dinner hours begin to entice early birds.
Scout for Coupons - Before you launch out on your family adventure, browse the internet for coupons to your favorite destinations and restaurants. Most of them offer some sort of discount online if you do some research. You may also find some family deals for buying multiple tickets or special internet offers for buying tickets online.
Eat Breakfast in Your Room – If your hotel does or does not offer free breakfast, it is still frugally best to eat at home. Jam and toast for breakfast is a lot cheaper than purchasing a short stack of pancakes at the local pancake joint. If you are traveling with young kids, they will probably like this option better anyway. It gives them time to relax and play before being shuttled off to the busy, outside world.
Plan for Downtime – No matter how many things are on your holiday itinerary, there will be downtime. Having entertainment solutions for the kids to occupy them for several hours in a hotel room, airport, or even grandma’s basement keeps the pressure off adults to keep kids busy with more expenses. My kids have their handheld game consoles and a way to watch movies in their travel backpack and don’t seem to mind having a few hours to themselves in the middle of a busy travel day!
Finding money for family travel can be assisted with the help of good advice from a trusted source that you can meet with in person. Saving money on health insurance is a bit of a puzzle right now and the Endorsed Local Providers on Dave Ramsey’s list can help sort out what solution is best for your family. It is free to get the information that fits your budget and protects your family allowing you to save money for what is important to you.
Thanks so much to the Endorsed Local Providers for sponsoring Kids Activities Blog and inspiring this series on creating family memories on a budget. Check back next Sunday for tips on how moms can make extra cash from home during the holidays!