There’s no other way to put this. Traveling is expensive. Traveling with kids definitely doesn’t make it any cheaper. Compared to living at home and making your own meals, living and eating on the road can run up a bill fast. So what are some ways that you can save some cash on the road. Well here are some of our 5 favorite ways to reduce our costs on the road.
Pack Your Own Snacks
Kids are ALWAYS hungry except for lunch or dinner. Nothing kills a kids appetite faster than saying it’s dinner time. Unfortunately, when you are on that 8 hour bus tour and your toddler says she is starving and you have nothing to feed them, except that super expensive bag of chips at the snack stand, you are stuck paying for it just to keep the day moving along. Nothing is more expensive than buying snacks at the airport or a famous attraction(except for movie popcorn). Also when you are on the road and have to start buying snacks from convenience stores and gas stations, your budget is going to quickly take a hit. We like to always pack a cooler with drinks and food for our road trips to help reduce the cost of food and drinks on the road. Which leads into my next money saver which is….
Unless you are somewhere where drinking the local water supply can be hazardous for your health, drinking water can save TONS of money. For a family of 4, for everyone to order a non-alcoholic drink at a restaurant, at a price of 2.99 per drink, you are looking at $11.96 + tax per meal. Multiply that by 3 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and suddenly you’re at nearly $40 dollars a day just to have a drink at a meal. If you are traveling for 2 weeks, that is about $560 dollars in drinks on the road!! That’s a plane ticket across the US, or a couple plane tickets with WOW or Norwegian Airlines to Europe! Drink water when you can. It’s healthier and typically free!
This has been said time and time again on every travel website/blog there is but it is the number one way to save money when traveling. Unfortunately, school gets in the way of being super flexible with travel dates, however, if you want to spend two weeks in Europe, use a spring break week and combine it with an off peak season week to drop the cost a little. This can get you a 16 day vacation (3 weekends and 10 weekdays) with only missing five actual school days. The other option is to explore homeschooling, which is what we did. Being flexible with your dates, times, tours, etc. will always net you the lowest prices, as companies try to funnel customers to the non-peak season through aggressive pricing. This is not anything new, but you can save thousands and thousands of dollars by just moving your dates a week or two, or when it comes to airline tickets, by adjusting your departure and return dates just a little.
Use a Credit Card
Kids are expensive, as is life, so why not let some of those purchases work for you! Credit cards can give you a ton of travel benefits such as protection against theft, rental car insurance, TSA precheck or Global entry credit, extended warranties and much more. Many travel credit cards waive the foreign transaction fees as well. However, the best perk by far is cash back into your hand or credit on your account statement toward travel. If you travel and aren’t using a credit card to pay for everything you are leaving money on the table. My favorite travel credit card is the Capital One Venture Card. This card gives you double miles on ALL purchases, which equates to about 2% cash back when applied toward travel expenses.
Don’t Buy the Crap
You show a child anything that is bright, colorful, makes noise, changes colors, blows bubbles or looks cute, and a child will be drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Unfortunately, marketers know this, and thus every souvenir store on the planet is packed with endless trinkets that are made just to attract a childs attention. If you travel a lot, the cost of that $10 bubble wand adds up fast. Set the precedent early that the expectation is that they WILL NOT be getting a new toy every time they go someplace new. Just say “No!” Say it early and say it often. It is tempting to buy your child something to make the trip “that much more magical,” but the last thing you want is to have spent a couple hundred dollars on a bunch of junk that your child played with once. Plus, you have to get that crap home, and that just adds to the logistics of transporting a family with small children around the world.
If you enjoyed this article feel free to check out our other travel tips!