One of my favorite things to do is to travel and explore new cities and areas. Our traveling has definitely changed a lot in the last decade with the addition of two kiddos, but we’ve managed to still get out and build new memories with our family despite it being a whole lot more work and a much different type of trip than ones we had taken in the past. While we’ve always been pretty cost-conscious travelers, having kids has made us moreso. Traveling with a family can add up and become expensive, but it doesn’t have to cost you your mortgage to have a fun and successful family vacation.
Disclaimer: I was compensated with a complimentary hotel stay at Extended Stay America in exchange for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own and I would never recommend a product that I didn’t truly support.
Below are a few of my favorite tips and tricks to saving money while traveling with our family:
Stay in Lodging with Kitchens
Paying for meals while traveling adds up quick, especially for families! One of the easiest ways to travel on the cheap is by staying in hotels with kitchens. By eliminating eating out just one meal a day, a family of four can easily save at least $40-50 daily. On our most recent trip, we traveled to Toledo and booked a room at Extended Stay America and I absolutely loved the set up in the room! They had a full kitchen with everything that you could need to cook and serve meals for your family.
Most hotels only have a mini refrigerator and microwave (if you’re lucky), but Extended Stay America had the full setup: full refrigerator, microwave, stovetop and oven, sink, cooking pans and utensils, plates, cups and even a little dinette area which was perfect for allowing my kids to eat their meals.
Another bonus: the suite was HUGE! So much room which is so appreciated when traveling with kiddos and extra stuff. We loved using the kitchen as a hideaway at nighttime to put the pack n play in (helped hide lights and was quieter).
If at all possible, travel in off season to save massive amounts of money. In the off-season, hotels, resorts and attractions often slash prices due to lower demand. Not only will you save a ton of money, it’ll be less busy so there will be less waiting and crowds.
I’m a huge fan of using discount sites like Groupon and Living Social. I love using the app on my phone with the location function to see what is available nearby. I always check those apps before traveling to see what discounts are offered on restaurants, hotels, events and attractions in the area that I plan on traveling. You can usually save at least 25% (and more likely 50% or more).
Whether traveling by plane, train or car, purchasing your own snacks to take with you saves so much money! Shopping at gas stations, convenience stores and airport terminals is so expensive and often full of unhealthy options anyways. When we arrive to our destination, we always grab some groceries at a local store and cook at our hotel or lodging whenever we can. A quick hack for grocery shopping while traveling is grocery delivery services! On our recent travel to San Diego, we used a grocery service and had it delivered a few hours after we arrived. It was so convenient and saved us a ton of time!
Purchase City Passes
If you’re heading to a large city, chances are they may have a city pass. A city pass is perfect for the travelers that want to see a little of everything when exploring new areas. Usually they include admittance to local museums, attractions, zoo, etc. for a discounted price. You can check the local traveler’s bureau website or check out CityPass to see if they are available where you are traveling.
Flexibility on travel dates can be an easy way to save money on your transportation costs. Flights and hotels can vary significantly in cost depending what day of the week it is (while planning for BlogHer17 I was able to stay 4 nights for the same costs of 3 nights by changing my departure date). I always shop around to see what days are the most affordable. Flights can vary $100-200 depending on the day of travel, so a family of four can save upwards of $400-800 simply by having flexibility in their travel plans.