I love to travel and experience new things, see new things, taste new things. Traveling can seem daunting with logistics and budgets to consider when you have littles. But if we wait for just the right time to travel, we will probably never get out of our city! So whether you are going to visit Grandma’s, going on a romantic getaway, or taking the kids to see something new. Here are a few of my tried and true tips for traveling on a logistical and financial budget!
Make a plan in advance.
It is much harder to stick to a budget (or save) if you don’t plan in advance. Talk as a family about what trip(s) you want to take this year. A holiday trip to see family or a summer vacation or maybe a dream vacation for just the two of you!
There are so many fun things to do and see in our country and the world, I like to plan less expensive trips and every five to ten years save up for a more “dream” vacation.
I have a savings account I have set up for money to be automatically saved each month. If I sell something on Craigslist, I add it to this account. If I have a side job, I add it to this account. I also like to clean the change out of my coin purse weekly and put it into a jar. At the end of a year, I can have between $50-100! I also use a card that earns rewards that I can use towards flights, gas, car rentals or gift cards. Cashing it in at the end of your savings year is a great way to make some extra “cash.”
- There is a “best” time to purchase flights. Generally, it is on Tuesday morning.
- Travel on off days like coming back on Monday or Tuesday, instead of Sunday.
- Booking tickets in advance by at least six weeks will guarantee cheaper fares.
- Pack light! Try and pack only 1 large checked bag for the whole family and have everyone with a carry-on. Sometimes this is impossible if you have car seats and strollers and packable cribs!
- Use a website that will compare dates and flights for you. Personally, I prefer Google Flights. But there are lots of options out there, so shop around.
- Plan to drive during low-traffic times. There is no greater gas guzzler than idling in traffic. If you are more of a morning person, leave at 5am. If you are more of a night person, plan to drive out after rush-hour.
- Don’t overpack your car. A packed out car is another gas guzzler.
A place to stay.
It is always convenient if you can stay with family, but when that is not possible here are a few ideas.
- Travel with close friends or family and split the cost of a vacation rental.
- Use TripAdvisor, Airbnb or a discount hotel search engine.
- Depending on your destination and what level of comfort you want, camping is a fun and affordable option and even cities will have campgrounds in the general vicinity to do short drives and enjoy the sites.
- Pack your snacks and drinks if possible. Consider buying Starbucks Via’s to save money on pricey drinks. Pack your favorite tea bags! Buying a five-gallon water jug is more affordable than buying everyone water bottles and drinks at each stop.
- If staying at a hotel, search for hotels providing complimentary breakfasts.
- Visit the grocery store and make your meals and snacks.
- Choose when and where you want to eat out. What do you want to experience locally?
A few random ideas that work.
- Pack a just-in-case meds bag. If someone gets sick or has a rash or scrapes themselves, pull out your bag and pass out the Dramamine or anti-itch lotion. It is much cheaper than buying it at a store! Plus, if you are not near a store, you don’t want to have to wait.
- If you are worried you might overspend, bring cash or partial cash and a prepaid Visa card. That way, you keep track of your money and stay on budget.
- Kids are guaranteed to want to bring home a souvenir. You can give them a budget (you have $10 or $20 to spend on yourself the whole trip). Or, if old enough, encourage them to save money for the little baubles they want to pick out.
Most importantly, have fun and explore with your kids!