Budget Family Travel

Are you a parent who would love to travel with your kids, but automatically think you can’t afford it?  If so, think again.  I’ve got tips on four of the most costly things associated with travel.  And believe me you can save BIG TIME.

  1. The Flight– This is usually one of the most expensive things about traveling with kids.  A big savings tip here is being Flexible.  Are you willing to change the dates if your flight is $200 cheaper the week before?  We wanted to travel for the summer, but prices to Europe usually skyrocket after the second week in June.  So, we booked our flights to leave Memorial Day Weekend and still got May prices.  Also, even if you have your heart set on a destination, be flexible and check prices for nearby destinations.  You can always take a small commuter flight or a train to get where you want to be. For example, we found a great deal from NYC to Athens, Greece.  It wasn’t the original place we wanted to start the trip, but when I searched Kayak.com and found that Delta Airlines had flights to Athens for $653 dollars round-trip with taxes.  It was a no brainer.  That’s where our adventure started.  Also, did you know you can find cheaper prices for flights on Tuesday afternoons after airlines have re-set their computers.  One more tip, did you know kids under the age of 2 fly free on international flights if they sit on your lap?  All you pay are taxes which are usually less than a hundred dollars.
  2. Places to stay– Most people automatically think of booking a hotel when traveling with kids because of pools and other amenities.  This is actually the last thing I think of when traveling.  My first choice is apartments and these days they are easy to find.  We use Homeaway.com and Airbnb.com where you can find private apartments that also have tons of extra benefits.  You can save big time because owners usually offer a much better rate for staying a few nights or even a week versus a hotel that has a standard rate per night.  I always make sure they have a free crib for my little one.  Most importantly, having an apartment with a kitchen is what saves us a lot of money.  Once we land in a location we go to the grocery store and buy items for breakfast, lunch and snacks.  Then you’re not buying three meals a day at a restaurant which can get expensive and tiring with children.  It also allows us to act like locals without having to stay in an expensive touristy part of town.  Make sure to read reviews to see what other travelers say about its location.   Also, make sure it has a washer and dryer.  You always end up needing to wash something with kids and you don’t want to pay for laundry services which can be expensive.
  3. Food– I already mentioned how you can save on meals by having a kitchen in an apartment or even what are called apart-hotels.  I also buy water in advance for my kids at the grocery store.  When we were in France, the bottles of water at a local restaurant were $5 a bottle.  However, the local grocery store sold them for a dollar.  So I simply filled my kids’ cups that have lids with water before we would go out to eat.  I also have a 1-year old son with food allergies.  A lot of times we would cook his food at the place we were staying before going out to eat.  This not only saved us money on an extra meal, but kept me from stressing on finding something he could eat on the menu.  I also recommend that you check for restaurants on tripadvisor.com before just wandering the streets.  When we wander we usually settle for less and pay more, rather than finding a place that locals highly recommend with better quality food and better prices.
  4. Airport costs– Believe it or not…it adds up buying things like food at the airport.  You can drop a hundred bucks before you know it trying to feed a family of four.  And, the food usually isn’t very good.  So we pack food for kids and ourselves before we get to the airport.  Keep in mind, you can’t take more than 4 oz or 100 ml of liquid on a plane.  But, there’s no problem with solid food.  We were recently traveling in Europe when I saw an American family trying to get the kids to gulp down their food before going through security.  They were surprised when I told them it’s not a problem to take food onboard.  In fact, we have meals prepped with a plastic fork ready to go so when we sit on a plane we’re ready to eat.  As you know, most airlines are now charging for snacks.

So here are four tips to save you money when traveling with kids.  But, there are tons of other ways.  It’s just changing your mindset from…we can’t afford this to this is how we can afford it.  You can start budgeting ahead of time.  And soon you’ll be on your way to a dream vacation with the kiddos.

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