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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Where to Go on $100 a Day

Don't forget to enter to win our iPad mini case giveaway sponsored by Domeo Products.

When you're on a budget you want to get the most out of your money. This doesn't mean you can't go far and wide though. Your dollars can stretch further than you think in a variety of destinations. If you plan ahead, you may even save more and spend less than $100 a day in the following places. So, don't write off Reykjavik, Sydney and London already!

INFOGRAPHIC: Shoestring Budget Travel Guide

We have done London, Paris and San Francisco on a budget and so can you if you do a bit of research and follow my tips. Which city have you visited more affordably?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Domeo Grip Mini Folio

I hate when I gave to go back and amend a great review, but Domeo has proved to me to have less-than-great customer service, so if you do choose to order from them, please be aware that this might be the case.

This past Christmas many of you probably had a certain electronic gadget on your wish list. I’m talking, of course, about the iPad mini. While some of you may not have the iPad yet, I can tell you, we received both the original size and the mini as gifts over the years and I much prefer the size of the mini. The only problem? It’s super thin and, though it’s pretty rugged, that screen needs some protection, especially if you plan to travel with it. Of course, this is our plan and I’m enjoying its versatility so far. If you also received a mini over the holidays (or just bought one on your own) and are still looking for a useful cover for it, I have found a great one for you from Domeo Products.

The Grip Mini Folio was made for the person who wants to go everywhere with their iPad mini. It’s lightweight, but sturdy, comes in pretty colors and has a built-in stand. You’re gonna love it and I’ll show you why!

The mini has a ton of functions and the Grip Folio caters to all of them. Unlike your full-size iPad, you won’t look dumb carrying it around everywhere or even using it to take pictures, since it’s a more reasonable size. While on vacation, you can use it to find directions, make dinner reservations, keep up with your travel journal, read the great American novel (or write it!) and talk to friends and family back home on Facetime. If you’re using it on the go, then the strap built into the inside cover will keep you from getting all clumsy with your iPad and dropping it on the floor. It’s very secure, but not too tight that it’s uncomfortable. It’s also nice that it’s not on the outside, so it’s not going to get snagged on anything in your carry-on or day bag. It makes it really easy to use as an e-reader or surf the interwebs for long periods of time.

Using your mini to take photos and videos? Keep it in the case! Yup, that’s right. There is a convenient cut-out in the back for just that purpose. Your mini fits snugly into the case, so you don’t have to worry about it sliding around and ending up with pictures that are half cut-off. Nothing like a less-than-optimal product to ruin your vacation memories, right? You totally won’t get that with this. Your front camera is free of obscurities, too. And when your Folio is closed the elastic strap covers the camera lens on the back, keeping it safe from getting scratched and ruining your expensive device.

When the Folio is open, you can use the attached elastic strap to keep it open and secure, especially when using the hand strap to view it. It’s fantastic and works better than expected. I shook it all around to make sure it wouldn’t come undone, even when only partially on the outer edge – to keep it from obscuring the screen. It didn’t move at all, the mini didn’t fall out, my hand never slipped in the hand strap and I realized this is a fantastic cover for everyone. If you are prone to dropping things or plan to let your little ones use your mini to entertain them, this cover was made for you.

Flip the cover back and you can use the grooves in the cover to angle your mini and use it to watch videos and play games hands-free You just insert the edge of the cover into the slot in the back of the cover and you can use it with a sharp or slight angle, depending on how you place it on the table. You can also use this to have a better grip on your mini if you have larger hands, too.

While this cover is one of the more lightweight ones I’ve seen, it is definitely just as sturdy as other thicker ones, but takes up less room and is an animal-friendly fabric that is stain-resistant. Now you probably wonder what can make this mini cover any better. There are two things: It comes in four attractive color combos and you have a chance to win your own Domeo Grip Mini Folio! If you’re dying to get your hands on one right now, save a whopping 20% off your order and get free shipping when you use code STC.

More information
Where you can buy it: Domeo Products online
How much it costs: $29.99
Colors it comes in: blue/gray, brown/orange, gray/light gray, purple/blue
Other specs: Soft inside with stain-resistant outside.

Like Domeo and their great products? Find them on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Google+.

Now, enter to win your own! (I'm sorry, but this giveaway is only open to shipping addresses in the U.S.)

Disclosure: I was provided a Grip Mini Folio for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% mine.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

5 Strategies for Avoiding Airline Fees

With all the fees imposed on us by the airlines, it’s more important than ever to save money wherever you can. Once you buy your plane tickets, you may assume you are done paying for your flight, but no. Now you can be charged for everything from your baggage to a snack. How can you avoid paying more and still have a great journey?

Pack light. You can save up to $35 each way by not checking bags. Make sure you can mix and match your clothing to be able to take less and still maximize your looks. If all tops coordinate with all bottoms, it makes putting outfits together a cinch. Pare down to two pairs of shoes – one casual, one a bit dressy – and stash a few key accessories into your carry-on to dress up something boring or wear it another way.
Headphones are easy to pack and can save you a few bucks. Want to watch that in-flight movie or listen to some music? You can’t do it without a set of headphones, but why pay $3 for the generic ones the airlines will grudgingly sell to you when you can grab a pair from home that will probably even last after your flight is over. Plus, if you plan to bring your iPod with you anyway, you’re already set.

Stock up on snacks. It can be fun to get treats and meals onboard the plane, but many routes don’t give you the option of an in-flight meal anymore. The ones that do may charge you up to $10 for a lukewarm TV dinner. Pack some veggies, trail mix, sandwiches or anything else you love to nosh on (that adheres to TSA security measures) and save money by not purchasing the “cheese plate” and also eat healthier.

Go offline. The Internet is fun and all, but you don’t need to be connected at all times. Use your flight time to relax and enjoy a movie, read a book or play a game with a travel companion, not catch up on e-mail. Cabin Wi-Fi can start at $4.95 and go up in price with the length of your flight. Your Facebook friends and blog will all still be there when you touch down. If you must post while you’re traveling, use a service like HootSuite to set up posts in advance and respond to anything once you reach your destination.
Say no to the upgrade. While you don’t often get offered an upgrade on most flights when you check in, avoid asking if there is one available, since often they will give you one if you are willing to pay extra for it (and seats are actually available). If you got a great deal on your plane ticket, adding an extra $49-99 each way can end up making it out of your original price range. That money can easily be used on your vacation instead of getting to it.

When you change the way you travel in small ways, it can make a big difference to your wallet, allowing you to travel more efficiently and do more at your destination. Once you incorporate some changes, you’ll see how easy it is to slowly change other things to save even more. Whether you do it to fit more into your budget, to spend less overall or to stay at a pricier hotel, saving a little bit here and there can add up quickly. How do you make flying cheaper?
This post originally appeared on FareCompare.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to Dine on a Budget

When I travel, I’m almost always thinking about when and where we’re going to eat next. I want to eat my way through a city. It must be the combination of all the walking and the fresh air, or just the excitement of being in a completely new environment. I know it’s impractical. Not just because it’s unhealthy, but also because it’s totally unaffordable. If I did stop to eat a bunch during the day, I’d never get any sightseeing done either! If you’re like me and want to eat all day long, you’re going to need some tips on how to do it inexpensively, so at least you don’t go broke doing it. Here are just a few of the rules I follow to get the best bargains and keep my wallet from emptying out by the end of the first day.

Bring snacks! Trick your stomach by bringing snacks with you in your bag each day. This way, if you’re tempted to nibble on something, you know you have them on you and are less likely to spend money on food you don’t really need.

Eat where the locals eat. Just by avoiding touristy areas, you can save a lot on your meals. When you’re out, ask a few people where they recommend. They aren’t going to tell you they prefer a chain restaurant over their favorite local pub. The food is likely more authentic than those that you can find right near tourist attractions, making it cheaper, because it’s local and not shipped in from a different country.

Make lunch your main meal. If you really want to try one of the “hip” restaurants by a celebrity chef, make reservations for lunch. The food will be just as good, but it’s usually much cheaper at lunch than at dinner.

Hit up the food carts. Food carts can have a huge variety of different local and international foods, but can be half the price of (or less) than dining at a sit-down restaurant. With this kind of savings, you can try fare from several carts with no regrets.

Rent a vacation home or stay in a hotel with a kitchen(ette). This is my favorite way to stretch my food budget, because there are so many options. Renting can be a great value over hotel stays if you’ll be visiting for a week or more, plus it gives you the chance to check out the local grocery store. I am not a big breakfast person, so instead of eating out for that meal, I shop for new cereals and pastries that I can’t get at home. There’s never a better time to try new foods! 

Stay at a hotel that offers free breakfast. You don’t realize how much dining out can cost until you go on vacation. A reasonable breakfast can cost between $8-15 per person. If you multiply that by the number of people you’re traveling with and the number of days you’ll be staying, that number can be huge. If you find a hotel in your price range that offers free breakfast, you’ve hit a jackpot of savings.

Sign up for Groupon. Groupon.com is an amazing little site that offers daily deals on a wide assortment of things, not least of which is dining. Each day a new offer goes up at a big discount off the regular price. Dining certificates can be purchased quite often and many times I have gotten a half-off gift certificate to a new local restaurant or one just trying to bring in new customers. It works! Sign up at Groupon.com for the destination of your next vacation (they cover many international locations as well as the United States) and eat for less!

Don’t order off the kids’ menu. If you travel with children, you’ll notice that all kids’ menus seem to have the same small rotation of foods. Obviously, little ones don’t just live on hot dogs, pizza, chicken nuggets and PB&J sandwiches. Not only do they charge an outrageous amount for these “staples” that cost hardly anything to make, but they offer hardly any nutritional value and your kids are likely to eat only half of it before declaring they’re full. Instead, order a meal that you both will eat and share. This saves you money and might get them to eat a vegetable or two.

This is just a small list of things you can do to help stretch your food budget on your future trips, but they can save you quite a bit, as they have me and my family on our travels. Remember, the more money you save on meals, the more money you can spend on doing something else!

This post originally appeared on the blog of Dohop.com.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Super Useful Travel Links

So, you know how I'm always harping on your to pack light and pack less and pack in just a carry-on? Well, I came across some post recently that back me up and come from people who travel pretty much full-time and can stress the importance of saving money, packing well and also show you how few things you actually need to make you look great on a trip that can be three days or three months long. Once you get over the fact that you'll have to do some laundry - it really isn't that big of a drag, especially if you do it while you eat! - and you won't be lugging 9 suitcases everywhere you go, you're going to love the idea.

So, don't just take it from me. Take it from Gigi Griffis, a world traveler and fellow author. She wants you to pack light (and still look awesome) so much, she wrote a three-part series for her readers. What to packhow to wear it and a recap of what to pack and how to wear it! Obviously, she knows what she's doing and totally rocks her minimal wardrobe and all its many possibilities. P.S. Her blog the ramble is awesome.

Another post that caught my eye recently wasn't particularly a packing tutorial, but a view of the packing capabilities of a 5-year-old. Caz and Craig of ytravelblog are travel bloggers who wander the gl0be with their two kids. Their oldest, Kalyra, has taken to packing her own bag for trips, with just a little help. For their current trip to Thailand, she practically packed everything all on her own, because she was so excited to go. She did a great job packing her carry-on and not overpacking it. This talent just takes a bit of practice, but as you can see from her non-bulgy pink Barbie carry-on (which is almost certainly smaller than yours) she has almost mastered it. If a Preschooler can do it, then you should take that as a challenge that you can do it on your next trip, too. She even made a packing list for her essentials!

If you still feel like you need a little more guidance with packing, another packing post will be coming along soon from me. You know how I love pictures! If you would also be interested in a video, I've been contemplating doing one...or several. Leave a comment to let me know if you would like it!

Find me on the web
I'm making the rounds this week. You can find my posts all over including:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Infographic: Romantic Getaway Ideas

You may or may not have already noticed Valentine candy being showcased in your local grocery store. Are you ready for February 14th yet? If not, you aren't alone. This year the holiday falls on a Thursday, which can be great if you want to take a romantic trip with your honey. Airfare and hotels are cheaper in the middle of the week and it's a lot easier to stay on a budget. You might not even want to take your trip in February, which is fine. It's usually enough to let your sweetie know that their gift for the big day is a cozy getaway where you can spend one-on-one time with each other snuggling up and enjoying a fun destination. 

This infographic from Vacation Choices lists the top romantic getaways for couples. Underneath, you'll find links to previous posts that give you suggestions on how to do the cities for less - if I've previously written about them.

Romantic Getaways

Has this list got you thinking you want to take at trip, even if it's not for Valentine's Day? Do them for less, too. Here's how!

Where will you be taking your next romantic getaway?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Paris Wish List

So, it's no secret that I am looking forward to going back to London and Paris later this year. In fact, I told you all in my last blog post that listed my Travel Goals and Resolutions. I've been collecting ideas for a while on what I want to see and do on my trip back to Paris. On our last trip, we only had a few days and it definitely wasn't enough time, especially since one day was spent at Disneyland Paris - which we'll be visiting again - and that wasn't enough time there either.

Mushroom crepes
I know you think that Paris is an expensive destination. It can be, but that doesn't mean you can't do it on a budget. On our last trip, we crammed some interesting stuff into the few days we were there:
  • Disneyland Paris
  • Pere Lachais Cemeterie
  • Wandered along the Seine
  • Enjoyed the view of the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and the Louvre (where we also took in the sculpture garden)
  • Eiffel Tower - we weren't going to miss this
On this next trip, we are going to hit some of the same, but we are going to stay longer and slow down a bit. With a true plan of attack for the city, we should be able to see more and do it better. The only thing left is to figure out where we're going to stay and how to get the best deal on the things we're going to do.

Disneyland Paris - One day was definitely not enough time to see all of Disney, which has two  parks and a Downtown Disney district. The best (and oddly most affordable) way to see the parks is to stay on the property at a Disney hotel. It includes your lodging, park tickets and shuttle service to and from the front gate. 

Disneyland Paris Photos
This photo of Disneyland Paris is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The Catacombs are mysterious, creepy and totally awesome looking. I am dying to get down underneath the city to see this amazing labyrinth of bones. I'm sure there will be an eerie feeling down there of being watched, but I can't imagine going back to Paris without taking a tour. There is something somewhat sinister about Paris, which is fascinating to me. 

Photos of The Catacombs (Les Catacombes), Paris
This photo of The Catacombs (Les Catacombes) is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Unfortunately, on our last trip to Paris, we only had the chance to view the Arc from a nearby cafe (which wasn't even a good cafe). I am looking forward to climbing to the top...and also finding a good place to eat on the Champs Elysees.

Photos of Arc de Triomphe, Paris
This photo of Arc de Triomphe is courtesy of TripAdvisor

What's a trip to Paris without trying some famous macarons? Obviously, I did this wrong last time. Laduree is said to have the best macarons in Paris in addition to other deliciously decadent desserts. I'm not saying no to that!

Photos of Laduree, Paris
This photo of Laduree is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Two days in Paris and we visited no museums at all, or at least the inside. In a city that is full of art of all kinds, the Louvre can be crowded and overrated, but the Salvadore Dali Museum is off the beaten path and delightfully weird. It's also more affordable than those other big and popular museums. We're there!

Photos of Espace Dali, Paris
This photo of Espace Dali is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Is there a better way to see a city than with someone who lives there everyday and knows all about it? I don't think so. Paris has volunteer tour guides that offer to walk you around the best the city has to offer for absolutely FREE! You just tip them at the end and enjoy your tour.

Photos of Sandemans New Paris Tours, Paris
This photo of Sandemans New Paris Tours is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Yup, I love a farmers' market. The Marche Raspail has some of the freshest produce in Paris and allows you to eat locally on a budget. Yum, yum, yum!

Photos of Marche Raspail, Paris
This photo of Marche Raspail is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Not sure I will have time - or money - to enjoy a show at the Moulin Rouge, but I would at least like to see it with my own eyes. This building is a huge part of Paris history, so we will try to squeeze it into our budget and also have an excuse to dress up and splurge on a proper French dining experience.

Photos of Moulin Rouge, Paris
This photo of Moulin Rouge is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The Seine is beautiful from the side streets and bridges throughout the city, but a lovely cruise down the river would be even better. It would certainly give us a new view of Paris, plus, you can have lunch or dinner on board. Multitasking! I also believe this is included in the Paris Pass

Photos of Bateaux Mouches, Paris
This photo of Bateaux Mouches is courtesy of TripAdvisor

As much as I'd like to go hog wild at some of the brand name stores in Paris, I know that my wallet could not handle such a thing, so I decided to mash my love of souvenir shopping with my husband's love of estate sales and check out the Porte de Vanves flea market where you can find some crazy awesome finds for great prices. Nothing beats finding a fabulous vintage piece for less. 

Photos of Marche aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves, Paris
This photo of Marche aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves is courtesy of TripAdvisor

One of our biggest regrets is that we didn't take the time to find out where the Statue of Liberty was in Paris. We tried to scope it out from the top of the Eiffel Tower, but since it was dark out, it made it twice as hard. This year we will make a point of visiting it...and maybe one day we'll make it to France's gift to the U.S. in New York.

Photos of Statue of Liberty, Paris
This photo of Statue of Liberty is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Have I left out anything on my list? If you've been to Paris and have suggestions on what we should see and, more specifically, where we should eat on a budget, I'm all ears. Leave a comment and help us plan our trip!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Travel Goals and Resolutions of 2013

Happy 2013! The first week has officially passed us by and it’s time to talk about travel resolutions for the year. I see everyone adding to their “bucket list”, but I like to have short-term goals of 2-3 years, so they seem more easily attainable. Last year we went on some great trips and saved a lot of money on the way. While we planned to take our big vacation to Europe, it didn’t happen. The new hefty taxes and fees for travelers out of the UK were a surprise to us, but our back-up plan was a huge success and we now know what needs to happen this year to budget for London and Paris.

In addition to our goal of making it back to Europe, I also have blogging goals for the year where I can write (by blog and freelance) my way to working for myself. It’s hard to fit in a ton of extra work on top of my regular 40-hour-a-week gig, but I really feel like I can do it and have set objectives for myself to take me to part-time to full-time work-at-home-r.

I write for this ezine now!

2013 Goals
This year many of my goals are personal, but they are still travel-oriented in some respect. I’ve made big strides in gaining freelancing jobs in 2012 and secured at least three ongoing writing jobs – some of them even paying ones! – and one as a social media manager for a friend who owns a small business. I view these as a jumping-off point to getting bigger and better jobs that will help me achieve my work-at-home goals.

  • I would love to have a byline in a magazine or newspaper, so that will be my goal to reach by the end of the year. In the coming months I’ll be working on and sending queries to some of my favorite publications.
  • Advertise my writing skills more in order to gain higher-profile jobs – by June I would like to make half the income I make at my regular job from freelance gigs and my blog.
  • Have my airfare to London and Paris bought and paid for by the end of Summer. While we have enough BA miles for two roundtrip flights, we still have to come up with the taxes and fees.
  • Second edition! It’s true. Book edits are in the works and an updated edition of my book is a goal to accomplish this year.

2013 Travel Resolutions
  • This year I will attempt to learn more about SEO, in order to up my blog stats in all ways.
  • Be more social. Twitter has never been my strong area in being social, but this year I will spend more time reaching out to peers and followers on social media.
  • I resolve to continue to work on my light packing skills. My carry-on on my last trip was packed almost perfectly. There were only two things I didn’t wear. Mostly, I would like to be a better souvenir shopper (which is generally Christmas gift shopping), so when I come back home I don’t have a big heavy extra bag. Obviously, this is a “we” issue and not just an “I” issue, so Eric and I can work on this one together.
  • I will go somewhere I’ve never gone before this year.
  • I will talk to more strangers on my trips.
  • It’s always good to do something that scares you when you travel. I have yet to decide what it/they will be, but I will do at least one thing that I’m not completely comfortable with. Last year I went snorkeling, which would not have been so impressive the second time if the first time didn’t find me hyperventilating and holding onto my husband’s life vest while he dragged me back to the boat.
  • I love food! I am looking forward to trying new foods this year, wherever we go.
  • Using My French Coach game and Pimsleur, I will learn enough French to get by on my trip to Paris.

Yes, these seem like a lot of goals and resolutions, but I am really feeling that 2013 will be an even better year than 2012. I aim to work crazy hard in order to achieve as many as possible. What are YOUR travel resolutions/goals for the year?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Frugal Family Travels (Part 3) 1.5.13

If you missed previous parts of this series, click her for Part 1 and Part 2.

Has the travel bug bitten you yet? If you haven’t been on a vacation in a while, now might be the time to start planning. I find that a lot of people use their kids as an excuse for not going on a real trip. Sure, you could travel locally and still have a great time, and save money, but many times it costs just as much to do that as it does to go far from home. Many kids love to travel and get a lot out of the experience, including patience and social skills. If you need to find a way to make a vacation fit into your budget, I’ve included some helpful money-saving options.

Kids eat free. Most hotels offer free stays for kids under a certain age. What’s harder to come by are ones that offer free kids meal programs. Since dining can be a huge chunk of your budget, this can save you significantly. Even if you find a hotel that just offers free breakfast, that is a good savings.

All-inclusive resorts. Many times you can find all-inclusive package deals at resorts that offer kids stay and eat free rates. If you would pay the same or less for the total trip if you paid for hotel, air and food separately, then you’ve found yourself a great deal, because family-friendly resorts not only include food and most entertainment, they also have kids’ clubs where your children can interact with other guests’ kids and you can have a bit of grown-up time.
Shop the farmer’s market. If you can find an open farmer’s market where you are traveling, you can spend some time finding new and unusual foods, interacting with locals and then you can buy a nice selection of foods for lunch and find a spot in a local green space to enjoy your new fare and the fresh air. If a farmer’s market isn’t available, it’s likely you can seek out street carts with local cuisine. You’ll save money by not paying sit-down meal prices and tipping isn’t required.
Europe in the Fall. I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t want to go to Europe and, despite what you may think, most European destinations are really kid-friendly. There are so many things to do and see that even the most fidgety child will be entertained. As long as you make time for resting and you aren’t go-go-go the whole time, you will all get a lot out of a trip there. Fall is by far the least expensive time to travel to Europe and is less crowded, meaning you can get to a lot more things in less time. This is awesome, because attractions and shops keep shorter hours, but that also means you can’t run your kids off their feet if your day isn’t as long and you’re forced to sleep or rest more than you would normally.
Visit developing countries. I think this is one of the best tips for everyone, not just those with families, because developing countries have lower economies and come with super affordable price tags for your entire vacation. You don’t have to cut costs if you don’t want to, because accommodations, dining and entertainment are all so much cheaper than at home. You’re also helping a country that depends on tourism to survive and finding an entirely new vacation experience. Countries like Ecuador, Belize and Peru are great examples, and if you want to go further, India or Morocco can be budget-friendly destinations, too.  These trips can be a total immersion for you and your family. This is a nice option if you have kids who like to try new things and meet people.
Kids are resilient and adaptable. They love new experiences and you can teach your kids tolerance and new languages by traveling to foreign countries with them. Sure, taking more things might be somewhat inconvenient, but having a piece of home will allow them to be more comfortable in their surroundings and love travel more.  Discovering the world with your family doesn’t have to mean discovering more debt. Your little travelers can also fit into your small budget.

The post originally appeared on Totally Temberton.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Frugal Family Travels (Part 2) 1.2.13

If you missed part one of this series, read it here.

Are you and your family ready for a vacation? Looking for ways to cut your expenses, so a trip will fit into your budget? No problem! Traveling with kids can be spendy, but if you know how to plan ahead and what you can do to make it more affordable, it can be a stress-free and relaxing experience. Everyone needs some time away and a good vacation can be an awesome bonding experience for your family. Following are five ways to save on your big trip.
Purchase a City Pass. Many cities worldwide offer what is called a city pass. You pay one price for a pass that includes many different activities and attractions and it enables you to bypass the ticket lines and go straight to the front gate. Not only does this cut your entertainment costs, it is also very convenient and enables you to do more things on the same budget.

Bring snacks and games. While this may not save you much money, unless your children are always complaining that they’re hungry, it can keep them entertained between activities. If you’re waiting in line or taking a break from walking, having a small snack you can dig out of your day bag or a game to play for a few minutes can alleviate boredom and keep kids happy when nothing’s going on. I find that games are a fantastic way to pass time on the airplane and snacks can save you money on the airline food menu.

Buy souvenirs ahead of time. If an amusement park is your final destination, chances are your kids are going to want shirts and toys and anything else they see for sale. These items can add up quickly and bust your budget. Many theme parks, like Disney, have a lot of surrounding stores with discounted items. Local grocery stores, Target and special souvenir shops can be a lifesaver. Purchase many items for the price of one and then either dole them out before you head out to the parks or secretly pack them in your day bag to give to children throughout the day when they start to get cranky or having a case of the “I wants”.

Pack light. I know that with kids it’s hard to do this, but it’s not impossible. Each of your children can bring their own carry-on for the plane and help spread around the weight. Whether it’s a small rolling bag that can fit under the seat or a backpack they can wear, they can share the load. While their clothes can be fairly lightweight, everything they want to take from home may not be. Pack as much of their clothes as you can in your own carry-on (Spacebags or Pack-It cubes may help) and then have them carry any spillover and a few things from home in their own bag. This may be a few (or a combination of) small toys, a coloring book and some snacks. Anything that will make traveling less of a chore. If there is more than one adult in your party, this may be done more easily, and you will have everything with you when you land, saving you checked baggage fees and time waiting for your bags on the carousel.
Rent baby equipment at your destination. This doesn’t sound money-saving at all, but it can be. Dragging around a stroller and other cumbersome products can be hard, cost you checked baggage fees and may even damage your own items in the process. Sites like BabiesTravelLite have lists for worldwide locations that rent baby equipment from strollers to baby baths. These places often rent equipment for an entire week for less than you would pay to rent them for a day at amusement parks and other places. You can pick them up on your way to your hotel or vacation rental and then drop them off on your way to the airport. You don’t have to juggle extra things at the airport and you won’t have to worry about damage to any of your own gear.

It might take a little extra effort and planning to travel with children, but it can be very rewarding in the end. It’s possible to save on many parts of your trip, making it just as affordable as before having kids when you didn’t worry (as much) about your budget. Your destinations are as open as ever and kids can only add to the fun of a new place with their excitement over things you may have long forgotten were exciting. So, pack your bags, stick to your budget and have a great time!

This post originally appeared on Totally Temberton.
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