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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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