Traveling Inexpensively With Kids

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Spring break is almost upon us.  Many families vacationlike to take advantage of the extended school break to travel or visit out of state relatives.  Traveling with children can be an expensive proposition though.  How do you travel inexpensively with children?

Do The Math

Depending upon your final destination, it may be cheaper to drive or it may actually be cheaper to fly.  If you book your tickets enough in advance, you can usually find some great deals.  If you are willing and able to skip a direct flight, and don’t mind layovers with children, you may be able to get some great deals.  However, keep in mind that you may need to rent a car after landing in order to reach your final destination.

With 5 children, I have to say, I consider the  “inconvenience factor” when doing the math and making decisions.  In other words, is it worth the inconvenience of a several hour layover in order to save some money?  Probably not for our family at this time.

Consider Cooking During Vacation

A great way to save money during a vacation is to limit the amount of restaurant meals.  If you can find a place to stay with a small refrigerator and a microwave, your meal options really increase.  Even if you have to pay slightly extra to get such amenities, it may be worth it.  Depending upon your preferences, a full kitchen would be a good thing too.

I’ve heard from many parents that they feel somewhat “cheated” if they have to cook during vacation.  “We might be on vacation, but the laundry and the meals still have to happen,” lamented my one friend.  “Some vacation.”

Another friend of mine had a great idea to the food dilemma: she cooked extra meals during the months leading up to their vacation and froze the food.  When it came time for vacation, she simply re-heated the meals she’d already cooked.  It saved her family money and she didn’t have to cook!

Another great way to save on food expenses may be to eat a continental breakfast (free at some hotels) and eat a large lunch.  Usually, lunch prices at restaurants are cheaper than dinner prices.  If your family has eaten a large meal already during the day, you can cook soup or make sandwiches for supper.

Where Will You Stay?

Hotel expenses can take up a large portion of your travel budget.  There are some ways to reduce this expense though.

If you can, consider camping.  Cabins at the campgrounds are somewhat more expensive, but tent camping is quite inexpensive.  Because we have children with handicaps, tent camping is not an option for our family.

If you have smaller children, it may be worth it to spend extra for a hotel.  If your children need naps during the day, you will be spending a large portion of your time at the hotel.  When our children were smaller, we’d get a hotel with a pool.  The older children could swim in the pool while the younger children were napping.  Although it cost extra, it worked for our family. 

I have found that I can get great deals online by using travel websites, and we take advantage of those deals!  Some hotels give military discounts too, which also helps.  If you belong to a travel club, you may be able to get additional discounts.

Plan Ahead

In order to get the best deals, begin to plan your vacation several months in advance of the actual vacation date.  The best deals are often snatched up early!

Do you have any frugal traveling tips to share? Please post.

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