There’s no reason to spend the kids’ college fund on your next family vacation. At least, that’s how some of the web’s most knowledgeable travel bloggers feel. And we’ve got a peek behind the scenes for you. Yep, these awesome bloggers (& parents!) are sharing their best money-saving tips on how to travel with the kids—minus the whole going broke to do so thing. Scroll down to see them all.
1. Take Advantage of Visitor Center Perks
Those off-the-highway visitor centers are more than just a place to stop and let your toddler use the potty. Andrea Everhart, of Kids Theme Dinners, says (of visitor centers), “They often have coupons and great tips for places to visit because the folks that work there, live there.” Everhart also notes, “Maps are generally free, so it’s a great way to plan hikes and site-seeing as well.”
2. Buy the Themed Gear Before You Hit the Park
You’re headed to Disney. Yay! And you’re absolutely positively sure your kid will want to dress up like one of the many princesses. You could buy a costume at the park, but buying a full wardrobe of character costumes can get pricey. Alana Simon of Masters in Momhood suggests, “Buy your children their dress-up outfits BEFORE you arrive.” She goes on to add, “You’ll see many children dressed up at the park. Buying branded costumes before you enter Disney means you are saving BIG money!”
3. Save for Your Trip Slowly and Steadily
Money-saving tips for family travel don’t always focus on the trip itself. Preparing for a vacation means saving up enough moola to get to your dream destination. But you don’t have to fund the family’s trip all at once. Alana Downer suggests saving slowly. “You don’t have to work any harder or do anything differently. Just set up a holiday savings account and put a little money in each week.”
4. Travel by Train (or Bus or Subway)
Even though you uber all the time at home, on a trip, any car service can add on unnecessary costs. Patricia Evans of Articletuts suggests using public transportation. She says “using public transportation could be a fun way to be frugal, especially in countries or cities with really convenient road and transportation networks.”
5. Check All the Deals Before Hitting the Slopes
“When planning family ski vacations, check season pass prices, even if you're only planning one trip to the destination, as they can often provide significant savings if skiing for more than a few days,” recommends Amy Whitley. If ski lessons are on your travel agenda, Whitley recommends, “Also opt for 'individual lessons' instead of group lessons if more than two family members will benefit, as you can place up to six family members on one individual lesson, making it cheaper than group lessons and more personalized.” You can see other skiing hacks and tips here.
6. Bring Your Own Batteries
You never know when you’ll need a good ol’ AA during your travels—especially when it comes to safety devices such as CO and fire alarms in rental homes. Mollie Harstad, the blogger behind DwellWell Blog, suggests that you BYOB. “In this case, BYOB stands for Bring-Your-Own-Batteries.”
7. Stock Up on Snacks
You’ve packed the kids’ clothes, their shoes and maybe even a favorite toy or two. But wait. What about the snacks? The blogger behind Travel with Bender, Josh Bender, says that bringing snacks along is his most valuable traveling with kids. “Food is a wonderful thing. It fuels our bodies, entices our taste buds and provides an effective mechanism for ensuring children stay well behaved (most of the time).” Buying dried fruit, veggies or string cheese beforehand can take some of the pinch out of your travel food budget.
8. Skip the Hotel
A turn-down service with a little chocolate on your pillow sure sounds like a dream. But it also sounds expensive. Marcie Cheung, from Marcie in Mommyland, suggests going with Airbnb instead. She noted, about her trip to Paris with a baby and a preschooler, “We rented a flat through Airbnb that was a 10-minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe. It was much cheaper than any hotel I could find that was near a Metro stop and near attractions.”
9. Discover Lesser-Known Tech Helpers
We all know about the majorly mega travel sites. But what about the little guys? Keryn Means, of Walking On Travels, says, “One of the best ways to save money when traveling with your kids is to utilize the travel apps available on your phone and lesser-known websites. Too often we look to the big sites to help us out, which is all well and good, but there are lots of apps and sites out there, like Hopper and Momondo, that can track flights and let you know when the best time to book is, which is very important when you have more than one flight to book.” Keryn goes on to explain, “For a family of four or more, this can be crucial if you are trying to go on a longer, more expensive flight. Websites like The Flight Deal and Skyscanner.com can help you grab great fares that other sites aren’t seeing, but you have to be ready to jump at a deal before it disappears.”
10. Bring Lots of Water
That bubbly beverage your kiddo is craving can cost more than their entire lunch, depending on where you’re vacationing. Amy Whitley, the blogger behind Pit Stop for Kids, suggests to “travel everywhere with individual water bottles for every family member and opt to refill at water stations instead of buying expensive drinks in theme parks, national parks, and cities. When dining out, opting to drink water can save a family of four as much as $20 per meal (and more if adults enjoy alcoholic beverages).”
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How do you save money while traveling? Share with us in a comment below.