Every couple of months I get the urge to travel, but now that I have
three little ones at home, it is more important than ever to make
every penny count on vacation. Here are a few of my favorite tips for
getting the most bang for your buck while traveling with children.
1. Prioritize. Before you go ask yourself what is most important to
you on the trip. Is it your child’s first visit with Mickey or a
romantic date night? Set aside money for those special moments and cut
back in other areas that are less important. For example, spend a
little extra on a character breakfast with Mickey, but then pack your
own snacks for the rest of the day when munchies hit.
2. Know the ‘net. Food is a big deal in our family and we don’t like
to leave it up to luck. Tripadvisor, Zagat, Urbanspoon – these are
all web-sites that will help you scout out the must visit restaurants
on your trip. On Tripadvisor you can customize your search to fit your
budget and what type of meal you had in mind whether it is an
all-American bbq with the kids or a romantic Oriental dinner for two.
3. Make a deal. There are daily deal sites for virtually every city
you may want to visit. Check out Google Offers, Groupon, Living
Social, etc. … to name a few. Subscribe to those cities a few months
in advance and be on the look out for restaurant, entertainment, and
even hotel deals.
4. Poll your friends. When I am trip planning, I always get the word
on the street from my facebook friends. Before our trip this year, I
posted that I was looking for fun and free activities in Southern
California and I was flooded with tips from friends who were locals or
who had visited earlier in the year.
5. Know your discounts. From AAA to military discounts to friends &
family discounts to credit card perks – be sure to know what kind of
discounts are available to you. My brother in law is in the military
and was eligible for free SeaWorld admission for himself and his
family. I’ve been a member of AAA since I worked with them about 10
years ago and I love the hotel discounts. A few years back, my friend
was able to score a sweet beach house for our reunion at a great rate
because she knew the owner.
6. Bring Your Own. For the small stuff on vacations we try to bring our own as
much as possible. Road trip snacks and other incidentals add up
quickly. If you are in to couponing, you can score some pretty sweet
deals before your trip. A few years ago when I was planning a trip to
Yellowstone, my sister in law recommended taking some of our own food.
I googled West Yellowstone and saw that there were several fast food
restaurants so I disregarded her advice. Boy oh boy was I sad when we
got there. One breakfast sandwich at McDonalds was $8 and that wasn’t
even a meal with a drink.Sometimes it pays to bring your own.
Same goes for souvenirs wherever you travel. If your kiddos are
anything like mine, they beg for the balloons and glow sticks at
Disneyland. My sister and I hit up the dollar store beforehand and
bought dozens of glow bracelets/toys for the price of what one would
cost in the park.
7. Web-sites that advertise vacation deals. Be sure to check out deal
sites like Freebies2deals.com. I was able to score $20 off of each of
our SeaWorld tickets through a code another fan posted in the comments
of a post about Southern Californian deals. That one code saved my
8. Check out menus in advance. With my little posse of three children
under the age of five, time is money when it comes to restaurants. I
am not quite ready to give up some of the yummy sit down restaurants
(although we do pass on the more formal), but I know my wee ones may
not last long. I like to jump online before we get to the restaurant
to check out the menu and decide in advance what to get for myself and
the kids . By deciding in advance, I know we will be sticking to our
budget and there is much less stress at the restaurant. On our trip in
May, we were able to scout out a family friendly sit down restaurant
at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel where the kids could make their own
pizzas. This kept them occupied while my husband and I were still able
to enjoy gourmet food.
9.Just Ask - Don’t be afraid to ask for specials or discounts. Whenever I
call a hotel, I always ask if there are any special rates. It also
doesn’t hurt to ask on excursions as well. We stopped at Bear World on
our trip to Yellowstone a few years ago because my husband wanted to
pet a bear for his graduation present. Sounds impossible, but I was
able to make it happen.
Bear World had an excursion where you could hold and feed the baby
bears, but it was way out of our budget.We nixed the idea and decided
that a wave to the bears from behind the glass of our car windows
would have to work instead. As luck would have it, the baby bears were
out in an exhibit while we were there. One of the trainers was holding
one and I just had to ask if my husband could pet it. JACK POT! The
entire excursion would have been amazing, but instead I was able to
more simply grant my husband’s wish for way less moola. Never hurts to
10. Park it. There are so many national and state parks all across the
United States that are either free or very inexpensive. We try to plan
a nature day into each of our trips where enjoy the beach, take a
hike, or enjoy the outdoor features unique to that area.
Bio: Taralyn worked as a travel agent for a summer and is now a do it
yourself vacation aficionado. From European voyages to road trips in
her own neck of the woods, she loves to blog about her adventures at