With the average cost of family vacations reaching over £1,500 per person, it’s no wonder that many parents are opting for staycations or weekend getaways over week-long trips. Between the cost of travel, dining out, entertainment, and lodging, getting some much-needed time away can be hard to come by. But before you put your suitcases in storage, know that there are many ways you can travel economically… even with children.
While the process of planning a vacation is already time-consuming and sometimes stressful, planning a financially feasible trip may require even more preparation. But with a little extra effort, you will be able to save big bucks. Keep reading for the best ways to save money while traveling with kids.
Be flexible with your dates – Just like any other for-profit company, airlines are out to make money. Be aware that airfare is higher during the busy travel times of year such as holidays, spring break, etc. If you can, be flexible with your travel dates as it could save you hundreds on airfare.
Do your research – Before you travel, create a loose itinerary and look for deals online. Surfing sites like Groupon for deals at popular vacation spots, will not only save you money, they will give ideas for inexpensive things to do that your family will love. In addition, visit amusement park websites and see if they are offering any special promotions during your travel dates. Before you purchase, look into the cost of season passes. Many parks with the same ownership will offer a single season-long pass for all parks, which may end up being less expensive than purchasing several separate day passes for the entire family.
Rent or share a house – Traveling with twice the people can also mean twice the hotel rooms and twice the cost. Use rental sites like VRBO or Airbnb and rent an entire home. Sync travel dates with family or friends in order to get an even better deal. The more people, the lower the cost per person. Another perk of staying in a home? You’ll have access to a full-sized kitchen which will allow you to save money on meals.
Drive – Whenever possible, consider driving instead of flying. Road trips are less expensive than traveling by plane and are full of free entertainment. Pack picnics and activities for while you’re on the road and prepare a route full of fun stops that will keep everyone in good spirits.
Be economical about souvenirs – Going on a trip doesn’t mean you have to blow a bunch of money on trinkets to bring home. Visit local markets and stock up on souvenirs that are less expensive and more authentic. If you are on a road trip, consider starting a new collection like a penny from each state or tourist maps from different stops along the way.
Take advantage of free entertainment – Before you leave, make a trip to your library for free DVDs and audiobooks that will provide entertainment as you travel. Download family-friendly podcasts. Then when you arrive, stop by the local library for books to read during your trip.
Pack lightly – Airline baggage fees are guaranteed to cost a pretty penny, so pack lightly and bring carry-on bags only. Follow a family packing list to make sure you have everything you need and nothing more. Remember that most airlines allow passengers to check one stroller and one car seat free of charge.
Travel while your youngest is still young – While having a baby at home used to be an excuse not to travel, now it can be used as a reason to hit the road. Most airlines allow passengers under the age of two to sit on a parent’s lap for free. Amusement parks, such as Disney World, also offer free admission to anyone under the age of two.
Stock up rewards points – Get a credit card with a great rewards program. Whenever booking travel, use your available points to cut down on costs. Many credit card points can be used for rental cars, airfare, hotels, and more.
Go without a rental car – Before you go, evaluate the local public transportation. Use ride shares or public transportation whenever possible. If you must use a rental car, look to rent at a facility outside of the airport and you’ll be more likely to get a lower rate. Contact your auto insurance to ensure your rental is already covered as the additional insurance offered by rental companies can be quite costly.
Pack a large bag for essentials – When packing for your trip, be sure to include a large bag that can be used throughout your trip for water bottles, lunches, and snacks. This will cut down on how much is spent on small purchases. The act of filling a water bottle saves a couple pounds each time and bringing sandwiches and snacks for lunch instead of buying will save even more!
A guest publication from – Abigail Golder
Abby is a recent college graduate from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism with a strong passion for travel, fashion and wedding planning. She is a Freelance Content Writer who loves to share a great story. Originally from Colorado, Abigail grew up in a small town called Montrose and she spends much of her free time in the mountains hiking and skiing.