Thanks to Diego Garzon at AlltheRooms.com for this guest post.
Everyone in the clan looks forward to the family vacation. But if you’re the one who pays the bills, that anticipation might include a little frustration because of the high costs of family travel. Costs of transportation, accommodation, and activities, not to mention insurance and travel documents, can quickly mount up and make the vacation more stressful than daily life.
Luckily, there are some tricks to help alleviate the pressure and pave the way for a more relaxing trip. Follow these tips for traveling cheaply with kids and you might just save money!
Tip #1. Home Swapping / Short-term Rentals
One of the biggest expenses during a family trip is accommodation, which is a very important factor when traveling with kids. Home swapping offers a cheaper and more convenient alternative to hotels and resorts. You’ll have a much more familiar home environment and the chance to save money. Another advantage is the personal relationship you can develop with the family you swap/exchange with. Both families can relax, knowing they are sharing their property with people who have the same travel needs as their own.
A short-term rental is another good way to pinch the pennies and be more comfortable. Through sites like Airbnb and Homeaway, you can rent an entire home. Some places even have amenities like a pool, gym, or sports courts to keep everyone active.
Tip #2. Sharecation / Staycation
Creativity is the key to planning an unforgettable vacation with the kids without breaking the bank. Get together with friends or family members to vacation together and share the expenses. You might be able to save on group travel tickets or to car-pool if the destination is within driving distance. Split the bill for an apartment or house, cook together at home, and make the most of discounts for group activities—the budget options are endless!
If a sharecation is still a little too expensive, why not explore locally? Plan a family staycation and discover what your hometown and its surroundings have to offer. You might be surprised! It’s easy to miss what’s right in front of your nose. A staycation encourages the kids and adults to delve into all amazing things that are right on the doorstep. The money you save by staying at home can be spent on fun activities and short trips, with the advantage of returning home every night to your own bed.
Tip #3. Innovation and Learning
A holiday is not only the time to relax and be with the family, it’s also time to get innovative, find new ways to connect, learn, and discover new places, customs, cultures, people, and food.
Kids often don’t know the value of money, so a great way to teach them some economic principles might be to give each their own spending money while you’re on vacation. If they run out of cash before the trip is over, you have a ready-made teaching opportunity.
Travel is always the perfect time to try new things to eat. With that being said, kids can be picky about food, so it might be a good idea to cook breakfast at home and pack snacks for the day. You can then use the money you save to try local dishes. Also, visit farmers’ markets to buy local ingredients and cook at home. Let the kids help. They will love learning how to cook, and you’ll appreciate the additional set of hands.
At your destination, use public transportation as much as possible. The experience helps kids learn about reading maps and paying fares, as well as see how locals live their daily lives.
Finally, keep an eye out for chances to save. Plan your trip during “shoulder season” (between peak and off-peak seasons) if you can. Bring the family to work on a ranch. Use miles for plane tickets. Seek low-cost activities such as hiking and swimming. You’ll have fun together and still come home with a few pennies in your pocket.
Diego Garzon is a writer by day and a reader by night. He is also the author of the first Screenwriting Manual in Spanish. He has been a creative consultant for television series and films. He lives with “the wife,” ”the dog,” and “the other dog.”
Please share your tips for traveling cheaply with kids in the Comments or on our Facebook page. Thanks!