Taking cheap vacations with kids can be difficult, but it's not impossible. Planning ahead and thinking creatively will help keep your travel budget under control.
Ideas for Cheap Vacations with Kids
Camping is the classic cheap vacation choice, but volunteer vacations are another great way to save money when traveling with your children.
Camping is a great way to enjoy cheap vacations with kids. Pitch a tent, roast some marshmallows, and have fun scaring each other with your favorite ghost stories. For kids who are accustomed to filling their days with surfing the Web, watching television, and playing video games, exploring the great outdoors is an experience that won't soon be forgotten.
If you are new to camping, LoveToKnow Camping has all the advice you need to plan the vacation of a lifetime. Check out this helpful Web site for tips on choosing a tent, finding a great place to camp, and preparing meals on an iron grill for your campfire.
Are you looking for a way to have fun while teaching your children about the importance of helping those who are less fortunate? Consider taking a volunteer vacation. As an added benefit, the portion of your vacation related to your volunteering can be a write-off when you prepare your tax return.A volunteer vacation can be as simple or as exotic as you wish. You can spend a few days working on a Habitat for Humanity house after visiting Grandpa and Grandma or travel to another country to assist nurses working at a children's clinic. This is the type of vacation with which you want to involve your children in planning! What causes do they feel passionate about? Do they have an interest in a specific career area, such as education or engineering, that could be explored through a volunteer vacation?
If you're interested in planning a volunteer vacation for your family, check out the VolunteerMatch.org to learn more about organizations that are looking for volunteers.
Tips for Saving Money when Traveling
For many families, meals and souvenirs eat up a large part of travel budgets. Luckily, it's not too hard to cut back in these areas.
- Pack a cooler filled with drinks and healthy snacks so you don't need to stop at a convenience store every time your child is hungry.
- Decide ahead of time what restaurants you plan to visit, then look online to see if they have any "kids eat free" promotions you can take advantage of.
- If you're staying at a hotel, check the lobby for coupon books featuring discounts from area restaurants.
- Share entrees instead of ordering a separate meal for each person in your family. In most cases, restaurant portions are too big for people with small appetites.
- Order water instead of soda. It's cheaper and more nutritious.
- Decide how much money each child can spend on souvenirs in advance. Make sure the kids know they will be getting no extra cash.
- Postcards are great cheap souvenirs for children.
- Be creative and make your own souvenirs. Buy each child a small scrapbook and a disposable camera. Encourage them to take photos, write down their favorite travel memories, and save bits of memorabilia such as maps, ticket stubs, and brochures.
- Check out discount stores for cheap souvenirs. If you're traveling to a popular tourist spot, major retailers like Wal-Mart and K-Mart will often have sections filled with t-shirts and other items for a fraction of the price you would pay elsewhere.
"Staycations" as a Vacation Alternative
If you're on a really tight budget, consider having a "staycation" instead of an actual family vacation. Postpone chores and all other daily activities to enjoy spending time together at home. Play board games, order takeout, have a dance party in the living room, visit a few local tourist attractions you've never seen, or let the kids take charge and be "parents" for one day. CNN has an article that describes this trend and how you can plan your own at-home getaway.