Even though the summer is winding down, many people are taking one last vacation before the school year starts. Here are some helpful tips for saving money and traveling with kids to make the trip easier and more enjoyable.
How to Save on Travel
- Sign up to receive emails on daily deal sites with discounts in the city you will be visiting such as Groupon, Living Social, or local programs specific to that city like Daily Deal Omaha. I know many people are hesitant about using these deal sites for travel – the key is to do your research on the hotel, tour, or attraction on sites like TripAdvisor.comto make sure that it comes highly recommended, and ask questions to clarify what is or is not included in the deal.
- Hint: If you do not plan to participate in all activities that are part of the deal, ask if you can exchange one activity for another. Most hotels and travel companies would be very happy to work with you. We have used both Groupon and Living Social for travel deals and have been extremely happy, saved a lot of money, and found the hotels and travel companies very easy to work with.
- Volunteer to give up your seat on oversold flights in exchange for a voucher for future travel. Before giving up your seat, confirm that you have a seat on a later flight, ask for a meal voucher if your wait is long, and make sure you understand the conditions and amount of the voucher you will be receiving. Recently, when we were travelling for my husband’s work (one and only work trip), we volunteered to get ‘bumped’ on our flight because it was too full. We only had to wait two hours, and the airline gave us a voucher for a meal, and a voucher for future travel of $400 each!
- Browse through many restaurants in the location you will be visiting at Restaurant.com and purchase $25 gift certificates for only $10. Or, even better, wait for special promotions where you can purchase $25 gift certificates for as low as $2!
- Check out the Reciprocal Membership Programs for Zoos and Museums. If you are a member of your local zoo or museum, you often can participate in reciprocal programs with other similar locations around the country for free or discounted admission!
- Many museums and attractions offer special discounted times or free nights. Visit their websites or facebook pages to find out when these special discounted times are.
- If your hotel does not offer free breakfast, bring along breakfast such as cereal in ziploc bags and bowls and spoons. Buy milk when you get there. Growing up, we did this on every family vacation, which was very helpful with a family of 6!
- Browse through local blogs in the city you are visiting which list Free Activities, special promotions, helpful tips, or an event calendar to help plan your trip. Each week, The Happy Housewife posts links to several blogs/websites that list fun and inexpensive (or free) things to do in their local area.
Helpful Tips for Traveling with Kids
- Pack a lunch and stop at a park with a playground to let the kids run around. On a recent road trip, we stopped several times at playgrounds, and this made all the difference!
- Prepare a small bag for each child of toys, books, games, sticker books, etc., suggests Danielle from Find Time for Fun. She prints off coloring sheets and workbooks, and has her kids use the tops of two small rubber maid containers as desks. (She also suggests sticking with colored pencils and bringing along a sharpener.) And, remember to set some papers and coloring books aside for the drive home.
- My favorite tip from Danielle is to burn a family music CD. She suggests using a combination of songs that each person likes. The mixture is nice because then you are not listening to Barney (or whatever cartoon) for 30 minutes straight!
- Take a cooler…or two recommends Omaha Area Kiddie Fun. “We went to Chicago, road-trip style, every year when I was growing up – we always had a cooler filled with items to make sandwiches and plenty of drinks! Food and drink right there at our hands – no extra stops, no extra spending.”
- Money Saving Mom has a great suggestion for how to pack an Emergency Box. We usually do not go to this extent, but a package of wipes is always very handy to clean up all sorts of messes!
- See more wonderful Travel Tips on Pinterest including this extensive and helpful post – 25 Tips for Travel with Kids!
- Are you traveling by airplane? Be sure to visit Travel Tips: Traveling with Kids on an Airplane for helpful hints!
How have you saved money on a trip? What helpful tips can you share for traveling with kids?