I think I was a gypsy in a past life. I was meant to be on the road or in the sky. We went on many vacations when I was a kid and I’m hoping to be able to offer the same opportunity to Kora & Logan. To travel as often as we do we have to rely on creative and affordable vacation ideas. Here are a list of my favorite ways to travel frugally and still have fun.
- Hotel Pool. We went to Disney World when Kora & Logan were 2 & 3. After the trip, whenever we asked them what their favorite part of Disney World was they replied, “The pool!” Ahhh, all that money spent…
- Online Coupons and Discounts. Before you leave for your destination hop online and Google “Destination Name Coupons.” You might be amazed what you’ll find. Convention bureaus usually offer a number of packages and discounts. Depending on the length of your stay purchasing an Entertainment Book might be of value, for about $30 you’ll get an enormous amount of buy one-get one coupons for the city in which you’re staying. Also daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social often have a Getaways page with deals as do major airlines. Be sure to check out TravelZoo and Airfare Watchdog as well for other deals.
- Kids Eat Free. If you Google “Kids Eat Free Destination Name” you’ll find a nice list of restaurants where kids eat free or cheap. This is especially useful if you are traveling to a big city, where restaurant prices can be high in comparison to what you’re little ones actually eat.
- Check Your Couch Cushions. In the months before your trip, start collecting all of your loose change in a see-through jar, jug, or bottle. As the pile of money grows, family members will be excited to add to it. Then a day or two before you leave get it counted and cashed in. If your kids are old enough, have a family meeting and let everyone weigh-in on what you should do with the money on the trip. Try to agree on something that you might not have done otherwise.
- Visit Relatives. Do you have relatives you haven’t seen in awhile. Send over an email or place a phone call and let them know you are thinking of visiting their area. They may have an extra room or two and, if not, they will most likely know where to stay for a reasonable price.
- Buy Souvenirs Before You Go. This tip may not be for everyone because it is fun to pick something while you are away to remember the trip by. However, if you’re looking to save money, check out eBay for souvenirs before you leave. Chances are you’ll get more for your money on eBay for the keepsakes then you would at the overpriced gift shop. If your children are young, they won’t care where it came from as long as they get to wear that Mickey Mouse t-shirt every day while you are away.
- Utilize Travel Review Sites. One of my favorite things to do when planning a vacation is to read reviews on travel websites. It really gives me an idea of what events and activities will best suit our family. I can find out whether other travelers thought a particular restaurant was child-friendly, if the hotel I chose is worth the extra $20 a night because it’s closer to downtown, or what unforeseeable and therefore unbudgeted transportation issues might arise.
- Use Public Transportation. Depending on the ages of your children, using public transportation could be an adventure in itself. Kora & Logan thought the trams and the monorails at Disney World were actual rides. A ride on a subway, bus, or train may just captivate your child as much as a $40 ticket to an amusement park. And if you’re somewhere with a ferry boat that’s a big bonus.
- Factory Tours. Prices for factory tours are generally minimal and you may even find discounts online. On top of being money savers, they are educational and memorable too. Also, you can almost always count on the “free” treat at the end.
- Keep It Low Key. Instead of staying in a big city hotel room look into a vacation rental site. Some of my fondest family vacation memories as a kid were from our stays in a cabin by a lake. We swam, played cards, watched as deer came up to our back porch, and best of all just relaxed together as a family.
What about you? What are your creative and affordable vacation ideas?