Summer vacation is just around the corner, and many of you will be packing up for road trips or airline flights. Budgets can easily get thrown out the window during vacation, especially if kids are involved. You can lose your sanity too. Follow these six tricks for traveling with kids to avoid vacation stress.
1. Prepare Everything in Advance
Traveling with kids is nothing like those vacations you used to take when it was just the two of you. So plan everything out to minimize any surprises.
If you’re going on a road trip,
- confirm your route
- check out the car to avoid breakdowns (nothing worse than whining kids waiting on the side of the road), plus a well-maintained vehicle saves you money on gas
- map out a course that follows kid-friendly restaurants and family budget accommodations.
Traveling with kids if you’re flying
- check out airline requirements for masks and vaccinations
- do online check-in or, if not available, get to the airport in plenty of time
- make sure your checked baggage raises no red flags
- get to the airport with enough time to get through security and to your gate
- try to book only direct flights, but if you must connect, pay attention to layovers and the amount of time between flights
- If your kids are under two and can sit on your lap, most airlines will allow them to fly for free. This makes traveling with kids much easier on your budget and nerves. You’ll save money on expenses associated with road travel.
2. Include Your Kids in the Planning
If your kids are old enough, let them help plan out your vacation. Talk about where you’re going and what things there are to do once you arrive. It’s a great way to make your kids feel like it’s their vacation, too, rather than just going along.
3. Pack All the Snacks Your Kids Enjoy
Whether traveling by car or air, you should pack your own snacks if you’re traveling with kids. If you’re flying, the kids will get hungry while waiting for your flight departure and start asking for snacks or fast food. Airport food is pricey.
If you’re on a road trip, stopping at roadside shops and restaurants can eat up your budget quickly. Pack easy-to-eat, age-appropriate snacks at home, buy bottles of water and fruit drinks, make it tasty and convenient.
4. Find Places to Stay with Kitchenettes
Many roadside and even urban hotels come with kitchenettes. If you can prepare breakfast and dinner at your hotel, you’ll have only one meal to eat out. Airbnb and other apartment vacation platforms offer a large selection of accommodations for every budget.
5. Look for Family Deals
When traveling with kids, you want to do everything you can to minimize your expenses. Look for hotels that offer family packages and restaurants that provide discounts, such as “kids eat free.” You can check your smartphone along the way to locate restaurant chains that post online offers.
Go online before you leave to find activities such as theme parks that offer family packages or an opportunity to purchase a temporary pass. If you’re staying in the area long enough, you’ll quickly get back your initial investment. Entertainment venues also offer free days, especially during the week when crowds are thinner.
6. Travel During Off-Peak Vacation Months
Summer is the most popular time to travel since school is out, and if you can go during the off-season, you’ll find better deals. Traveling off-season also helps you avoid the stress of keeping your kids happy amid crowds, long lines or traffic, and other strains of summertime travel.
Family vacations can create years of memories. The most important trick for traveling with kids is to plan as much as possible and take advantage of all opportunities to save money.