This week's post comes from Alexis Hall with SingleParent.info.
As much as we look forward to making priceless vacation memories with our kids, any parent
who is planning a family trip knows there’s a fair amount of stress involved, too. The top two
sources of stress? How much the trip will cost and how our kids are going to handle traveling.
That’s why we’ve put together these tips to deal with those two worries: keeping costs down and
keeping kids happy!
Plan for Downtime
Most parents put a lot of thought into what you need for the journey and what you’ll do when you get there. Don’t get us wrong - these plans are essential! No one wants to have little ones have a meltdown while traveling because you forgot snacks or activities. However, it’s just as important to plan ahead for downtime. Having some time that’s unscheduled is necessary to make sure kids (and parents) don’t overdo it and end up crashing. But of course kids will still need something to do during those times.
Remember that your kids won’t have their toys like they do at home, so you want to have a game plan for creating some distractions. One comfort from home that you can easily bring is the ability to access their favorite TV shows and movies. Instead of paying the high price of getting premium channels in your hotel, we recommend bringing a streaming USB device. If you haven’t tried them, these little devices are a parent’s best friend because they’re small, easy to take anywhere, and all you have to do is plug it into a TV or computer to stream TV shows, music, and more. There are a few different options on the market, so it’s smart to research what’s out there to stay within your budget while also getting the features you want.
Our other top tip for downtime entertainment is to find out what amenities you’ll have so you can be prepared to utilize them. If you stay in a place with a pool, don’t forget swimsuits and maybe even bring a cheap new pool toy. Besides amenities, hotels always have notepads and pens, which can make for great in-room entertainment. Bring along crayons and markers, too, and that’s all you need for kids to be able to make and toss paper airplanes.
Always Ask for Discounts
When it comes to planned activities and other expenses like accommodations, always ask for discounts! According to Lonely Planet, many museums have certain weeks or days when kids go free, plus you can usually find coupons for tourist attractions online before you go. There are even some airlines that offer discounts or free flights for kids.
Be sure to always take advantage of membership discounts, too. U.S. veterans, government employees, and AAA are just a few types of discounts to consider. Are the grandparents coming along? If so, you should always ask for a senior discount. Plus, if you plan carefully, this could help the whole family save. For example, you may be able to get a discount on a hotel suite rather than getting separate rooms. Another way to save is to use a preferred hotel chain or booking site because many now have loyalty rewards programs you can join.
Make the Most of Freebies
Another huge way to save on travel expenses is to consider the availability of free and inexpensive activities when you’re planning your trip. For example, U.S. News lists Washington, DC as an affordable destination because there are so many free museums you can visit. Along the same lines, national parks and beach vacations are affordable because you don’t really need to pay for attractions since the landscape is the attraction.
Family vacations are made for memories. Whether you’re hitting the road for a short weekend getaway or taking a longer trip that you’ve been planning for months, there’s nothing like disconnecting from real life and sharing new experiences together as a family. And with the right planning, it’s entirely possible to make these memories without worrying about money or meltdowns.
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