family enjoys time at carnival

How to Travel With Children and Still Save Money

Traveling with children can be a lot of fun. You get to explore more places, do more things, and learn more about the world around you while building some incredible memories with your family. At the same time, however, many families wonder about one of the most difficult parts of traveling: paying for it all! Traveling with children can be incredibly expensive, especially if you aren’t prepared for it ahead of time. With these tips, however, you can make traveling with your kids a less expensive–and more fun–experience.

Choosing the Perfect Age for Travel

There’s no “golden age” for travel: an age at which it’s going to be entirely inexpensive and easy to pay for. When traveling with your children, however, carefully consider the right age for that travel experience. Think about:

When will ticket prices go up? If you’re looking into vacationing at a theme park, for example, you may want to take a look at when your children will qualify for adult ticket prices. At some theme parks, you may need to pay adult prices as early as 10 years old. Vacationing before that point can help you save much-needed money on your trip.

What will food prices look like? The older your children are, the more they’ll need to eat. That can mean an expensive bill, especially if you’re stopping at restaurants along the way. Traveling with your children when they’re young can help you save on those food expenses.

What things are you likely to have to purchase when you travel? If you have very small children, you may need to purchase extra things when you’re on the road, including extra diapers and wipes, formula, or baby food. If you’re planning to fly, you may also need to travel with more stuff, which could mean expensive luggage fees.

How much do you want your children to remember? Often, traveling with your kids is all about making memories–both for you and for them. While traveling with your kids when they’re young can decrease some of your immediate expenses, it can also mean that your children are less likely to remember those events. If you want your children to have extensive memories of traveling with your family, consider waiting until they’re a little older to take those trips.

Keeping the Kids Occupied While You Travel

When you reach your destination, there are plenty of things to do to keep the kids occupied. Unfortunately, keeping them engaged while you’re traveling, whether you’re stuck in a car together for hours or you’re planning air travel, can provide considerable difficulty–especially if you forget that you’re going to need to entertain the kids until you’re out on the road. Try some of these strategies.

Plan ahead for potential rainy days while you’re on vacation. If you’re at the beach, out camping, or at the lake, you may find that rainy days destroy your plans to play outside all day–and could lead to expensive detours from your original plans. Plan ahead for rainy days so that you know what you’ll do on those vacation days, whether that’s finding a local arcade, going out to get ice cream, or hanging out in your hotel room and playing board games for a few hours while you wait for the rain to clear. Consider packing:

  • Card games
  • Books
  • Favorite movies
  • Board games
  • Craft activities (especially those that can pack up small for your return trip)

Take along plenty of travel activities. Pack a bag ahead of time with materials that your children will enjoy on the road. Consider:

  • Personal game devices
  • Movies, if you have an in-vehicle DVD player or personal DVD player for the kids
  • Books
  • Small games and toys
  • Snacks for the road
  • Books on tape to play over the car radio

Set a budget. If you’re going to make unplanned stops or head out for unexpected entertainment, make sure you already have a budget in place to deal with those expenses–and don’t exceed it! Planning ahead for those expenses will make it easier for you to decide what to do when the kids–or you–need to be entertained.

Keeping Everyone Fed

Let’s face it: food is one of the most expensive parts of your vacation. You have to feed yourself and the kids–and when you have a big family, those costs can add up fast. To keep everyone fed on a more minimal budget, consider some of these important strategies.

Pack a cooler for the road. Make sure you have plenty of snacks for all those “I’m bored and need to snack” moments. You may also want to consider including the materials for sandwiches or other lunch foods. Make sure you add plenty of drinks to prevent those inevitable gas station stops, which can add up quickly.

Plan to eat in for at least some of your meals each day. Sure, you’re on vacation and want to have fun, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat restaurant food at every meal! Instead, take food along with you or stop at a local grocery store. Take along a picnic made of sandwiches and other easy foods for lunch, or stay in a suite or condo, where you can prepare your own meals in the evening. Hint: food is often more expensive at dinner than it is at lunch, so plan your meals accordingly.

Stock up on snacks for your flights. You can take food on the airplane with you as long as it’s packaged correctly. Stock up on snacks before you head out so that you aren’t stuck buying food in the airport.

Keep meals simple. Fresh fruit, sandwiches, and cereal can go a long way toward feeding your family for at least a couple of meals a day. It doesn’t have to be complicated–and often, those simple meals can save you a great deal of money.

Other Tips for Traveling on a Budget

Still trying to save a little money? Consider some of these important travel budget tips.

Set kids up with a specific spending budget. Let them know well ahead of time how much they have to spend on souvenirs and “extras,” and don’t budge, even when you’re tempted.

Keep your packing minimal. If you’re going to be traveling by air, reduce the bulk–and the expense–as much as possible. Keep in mind that home will still be there when you get back–you don’t have to take everything with you!

Choose unique vacation locations. It’s not always about the most popular beach on the coast or a big theme park vacation. Instead, choose inexpensive, practical locations that fit your needs.

Challenges arise, no matter how well we plan. Koster’s is there for life’s necessities. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help provide a loan when you need it.

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