With fuel and flight prices soaring recently, you may think a summer vacation is out of reach. But there are some simple ways to still enjoy a fun trip without breaking the bank.
All you need is a little bit of planning to put together a family travel budget. Get started with these top tips for low cost travel with kids.
Choose a less popular destination
Carefully selecting where to visit is key to saving yourself cash. Flights and hotel costs for touristy destinations like theme parks rise dramatically during summer break. Instead, consider camping at a national park, exploring a new city or checking out a beach within driving distance.
Visit travel comparison sites
If you plan on flying to your destination, use SkyScanner or Google Flights to find the cheapest and most convenient flights. Set alerts for your desired destination and you’ll receive emails when prices are rising or dropping. Oftentimes, these websites will suggest using two different airlines for each leg of your trip to save even more. Just keep in mind that low cost airlines can have hidden fees.
Kayak and Priceline are helpful for finding deals on hotel rooms and car rentals. Sign up for their email lists and reward programs to receive additional coupons.
Utilize public transportation
There are many cities where renting a car isn’t necessary. If your accommodations are close to attractions, grab an Uber from the airport, then utilize trains, buses, streetcars or walking for the rest of the trip. New Orleans, Washington, DC, New York and Charleston are all super-pedestrian friendly spots to visit.
Take advantage of discounts
There are so many discounts available for families if you know where to look. In addition to signing up for rewards programs through hotels, airlines and rental companies, AAA and Costco Travel offer vacation discounts and packages. Veterans and families with disabilities are able to access additional hotel deals. Check out AccessibleGO.com for more info.
Go camping or glamping
Camping is the ultimate low-cost vacation. If you’re wary of sleeping in a tent with toddlers, renting an RV is a surprisingly affordable alternative. On a site like RVshare, travelers can select an RV or travel trailer for their outdoor adventure for as low as $100 a day. Another perk to RV travel? Having a bathroom, kitchen and air conditioning at your disposal while on the road.
If you’d prefer to stay in one area, Airbnb has a glamping section on their website. Find affordable and exciting stays at yurts, dome houses and campers throughout the midwest and beyond. Bonus: Many of the glamping sites allow pets and feature cool extras, like hot tubs, for less than the cost of a hotel.
Search for free activities
Wherever you choose to visit, there are bound to be free or low-cost activities. Besides beaches, many cities offer free museum days, street festivals, farmer’s markets, nature reserves and more. When in doubt, do a Google search of the best playgrounds in the area. It may also be worth it to follow social media accounts of businesses in your destination city to get inside info on events and attractions.
Buy your own food and drinks
While restaurant meals are fun, dining out can easily add hundreds of dollars to a trip. Choose how many meals to eat out per day or week, then stick to your budget. If your hotel room or rental has a fridge, stock up on low-cost foods like cheese sticks, yogurt and fruit. Non-perishables such as bagels, granola bars and apple sauce are great to have on the go for easy snacks.
Many theme parks and attractions allow families to bring their own coolers and water bottles inside — just make sure to research beforehand.
Set a souvenir budget
One of the hardest parts of traveling with children may be the constant pleading to buy something from the gift shop. Set a limit for how much each child can spend on treats and trinkets and discuss it with them ahead of time. Choose more practical souvenirs like a t-shirt, hat or reusable water bottle instead of toys so that your purchase can be used for years to come.
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