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Parents often get dramatic about their children growing up too fast. They spend so much time at work that they miss many firsts in their kids’ lives. One way of making up for lost time are weekend or vacation trips.  

However, some parents are easily discouraged about traveling with kids. The expenses double and they make it impossible to pack light. They might throw tantrums during tours or while on the plane. You can’t expect them to take long walks and not throw a tantrum. Choosing an accommodation also merits special attention.  

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But while there are inevitable challenges, you shouldn’t scrap family travel altogether.  The world is one of the best teachers and you shouldn’t deny your children the unique experience to learn and discover. According to Dr. William Norman of the Clemson University in South Carolina, travel “contributes to cognitive growth and stimulates a child’s sense of wonderment.” It opens their minds to broader horizons.  

The key is to travel smart, in terms of budget, activities, and itinerary. Choosing the perfect accommodation would also allow you to say goodbye to a huge chunk of your travel worries.   money-saving travel tricks do double-duty as sanity-saving parenting tips  

Book and plan ahead   If you’re keen on bringing the rugrats, you have to understand that decisions can’t be on a whim. Forget about those pre-parenting days when you can just jump on a plane with nothing but your backpack, shades, and headphones.  

Traveling with kids requires you to have a plan. Take your time and go over your itinerary over and over again. Booking your flight early means there’s also a bigger chance to get cheaper airfare. If you’re going on a road trip, you have to plan stopovers, too. Booking for a hotel months ahead would also guarantee a more stress-free planning as you can then shift your focus to planning the activities. There’s also a chance you can book cheap accommodation especially if you take advantage of early-bird promos.  

Fight off boredom frugally  

You don’t have to take your kids shopping all the time whenever they throw tantrums. The key here is to keep them busy with activities from the moment they get on the plane, check in a hotel, ride public transportation or going around.  

Pack a travel-friendly toy or load-up a tablet with their favorite movies. Research on the child-friendly activities that they can try in your destination. In Boracay, one of the most family-friendly beaches in the world, there are a lot kid-friendly activities. You can go on an island cruise, swim during low-tide or in resort pools, go on a banana boat ride, and enjoy a kiddie food trip. You can also just give your kid a camera and let her or him capture the view. First-timers can also get a local tour guide to help them explore the island.  

Take the train, ride the bus  

When traveling with kids, parents almost automatically look for a van or car for hire. If not, they find taxis the most convenient way to get them around. But kids are still at a point in their lives when they still find novelty in riding public transportation. Enjoy that while you can, because soon enough they’ll be asking for their own car.  

Using public transportation could be a fun way to be frugal, especially in countries or cities with really convenient road and transportation networks. Just swiping the train ticket could make them all giddy and excited. Of course, just always tell them to hold your hand and never leave your sight.  

There’s an app for that  

Forget those traditional maps and guide books, there’s an app for everything you need when you travel. From booking your flight, picking a hotel, planning your trip, and even managing your finances. There are apps that will help keep your budget in check by giving you a list of must-try restaurants by location, food or price. There are also apps that would help you with your itinerary by giving suggestions on which tourist spots to visit, oftentimes for free. And then of course, game apps are among the most reliable tools in keeping your kids occupied.  

Bring comfort food  

If you are going to a country with a really distinctive cuisine, you might want to consider bringing comfort food. You don’t want to spend on something your kids won’t end up eating, or worse would upset their tummies. If you will spend your vacation in an island, expect a bag of potato chips to cost you triple.  

Consider “share-cation”  

An effective money-saving travel trick is to divide the cost. You can ask another family, perhaps your sister’s or best friend’s family, to travel with you. You can split transportation, accommodation, and food expenses with them.  

Whether you are going on a beach trip or a nature trip, you can find hotels that offer family rooms at a very reasonable price. Some would even allow you to have extra mattresses at a minimal price. You may also opt for a rental home for the added benefit of a kitchen and laundry area. Yes, it could get louder and you might have to relax your privacy requirements, but sharing a trip has its own unique advantages. Apart from splitting the cost, you also double the fun, especially if the other family has kids too. You just have to make sure that you and your kids are comfortable with the other family and that you share the same interests and goals when you go out on trips.  

Trust kids with money

For school-aged kids, you can try a counter-intuitive approach and give them their own money for the trip. Assign them an amount and tell them they could buy snacks or toys, but they have to be responsible. Kids tend to be more frugal when they know they are spending their own money. If they just ask money from their parents each time they want something, they would not know its value and will just keep asking. If you trust them with their own money, you would be surprised that they can actually budget quite well.  

Enjoy your kids while they’re still young. Travel with them and see the world together. Chances are that you’ll learn more from them: their innocence, simplicity, curiosity, and unlimited energy.