How You Can Have a Fun Family Travel Adventure on a Budget
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So many people spend time traveling the world and seeking adventure… and then they just stop when kids come along. We get it - young children require A LOT of your attention, and the idea of keeping everyone happy on a trip can seem intimidating. While traveling with young kids can be a challenge, it’s also an incredible adventure. Here are some tips to make family travel more fun, less stressful, and budget-friendly.
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Get the Right Gear
If you’re a parent, your home is probably filled with kid-gear, but don’t assume this means you need it all for a family trip. The trick to packing smart is to make sure you have the right gear, without going overboard. It’s especially smart to be choosy about the big items you bring. For example, if you’re planning an outdoorsy trip, bringing a hiking backpack babies and toddlers can ride in is worthwhile.
If you do bring a hiking pack, you may want to leave the stroller at home and simply use the pack to get through the airport with little ones too. However, if you’re going to a city, you may be better off with a lightweight umbrella stroller for getting around easily.
Packing the right gear isn’t limited to the big stuff, either. Before you go, brainstorm ways to keep kids entertained at the most trying moments (like when they’re exhausted and need some downtime, or when you’re stuck inside on a rainy day).
Even if you normally limit screen time, electronics do wonders to keep little ones entertained when you’re on the go. One of our favorite sanity-saving tricks is to bring along an affordable tablet. This is the easiest way to access kids’ TV shows, movies, music, and even interactive videos like kids’ yoga. All you need is a Wifi connection.
Make a Plan
If you’re going on vacation with your family, you need to prepare coworkers, clients, and employees for your absence so you won’t be interrupted during your time off. When you leave work behind, it’ll be much easier to relax and enjoy vacation time with your family.
Aside from packing, you also want to plan travel times, accommodations, and activities with kids in mind. For air travel, Upgraded Points recommends avoiding red-eye flights and instead aiming for a time when your little ones would normally nap.
Even though picking your flight around a certain time may cost more, you can use other planning strategies to keep these costs down. The Active Times recommends planning a trip in the off season to stretch your travel dollars. Also, consider signing up for fare alerts before you book so you can save money without having to buy a flight that doesn’t work for your family.
Another thing to plan for when you have small children is sleeping arrangements. If you’re staying in a hotel, call ahead of time to ask if they have a crib. If not, you may want to bring a travel cot. When it comes to accommodations, try staying more than one night because many hotels will give discounts for multi-night stays. On top of that, young children tend to settle into a new place after a day or two.
When you’re planning a trip with kids, attractions can be a big expense. However, there are a few ways to save on admissions. One way is to look for family-friendly packages that include discounts on multiple activities. Another way to save is to visit during off-peak hours, when there are less people and therefore shorter lines. You can also look for attractions that offer free days or reduced rates for families. Find helpful resources online that can offer you tips on how to save. For example, if you’re planning a trip to Disney World, visit Mouse Life Today for Disney-related news and savings tips.
But Also Go With the Flow…
As much as you want to have the bigger details planned beforehand, it’s just as important to go with the flow a bit once you get there. Sometimes traveling with kids forces you to live more like a local, searching for kid-friendly, affordable spots like neighborhood playgrounds. If you’re a road tripper, a great way to save money and be more spontaneous is to use apps that help you find nearby restaurants and activities.
Like everything else with kids, travel really is a balancing act. You have to plan smart to be sure you’re prepared, yet you also know that life with kids can be unpredictable. There may be some bumps in the road, but the right balance between preparation and letting go will help ease the journey.
Amanda Henderson is a valued contributor to our OMB Blog. Please visit her website safechildren.info where she provides awesome resources on keeping your children safe!
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