What do you think of when you hear the words: family travel? For me, this phrase used to inspire both hope and fear. Hope for future bouts of wanderlust with family in tow and fear that I couldn’t find trips that were wallet-friendly.
When I heard the term ‘family travel’ before motherhood two visions popped into my mind. Vision number one was of my super-traveller, self-sufficient friend Susie who packed up her 18 month-old (and big pooch Igor) and drove solo many hours to our annual Tofino girls’ weekend. Her SUV was full of toys, she had all her snacks packed and she even brought a portable enclosed play area (think playpen on steroids). Family vaca vision number two is of the Griswolds on their chaotic US roadtrip, station wagon packed to the gills and misadventures befalling their every turn.
Given a choice, I’ll choose the Susie situation any time. Planning, snacks and efficiency help make any (family) trip a bit less of a gongshow. Part of my family travel plans these days always include thinking about how I can shave some of the dollars and cents off my trips. Recently, my fellow blogger Sarah from Smile and Conquer asked me to share some of my wallet-friendly, wanderlust tips with her blog readers.
Below you’ll find a couple of tips from the article after the jump. If you want to read the rest be sure to stop by my Smile and Conquer guest post to end up like Susie and her wee one not Clark and the gang….
Trade Patio Hangs for Picnics
Once you become a parent and your kid becomes mobile, long afternoons sipping wine or meeting up for a sunny happy hour just isn’t the same. It can be expensive and stressful. One of my favourite things to do while travelling is putting together a simple picnic. In the summer, stop at the local farmer’s market, grab fresh, local food (and maybe a bottle of wine or craft beer) and then head to a park or beach for a picnic. Don’t have a picnic blanket? Stop at a Value Village and grab an old tablecloth or flat sheet. I recently did this on a trip to Victoria, BC on the shores of my favourite, tiny lake with a friend from elementary school. While my little splashed in the shallows, we caught up over some tapenade, baguette and all the cheese.
Research Frugal or Free(ish) Activities
I feel like one of my university profs when I say this: do your homework! A little research goes a long way when it comes to saving a few bucks on tourist attractions. Love art? See if the city art gallery has a pay-what-you-can night. Want to take the littles to a movie or play? Matinees might be cheaper or scan local arts weeklies for mentions of specials or discounts. Love the outdoors? See what kinds of outdoor parks or attractions are free or by donation. A bit of forward planning before you get to your destination goes a long way. Plus, it helps you be in the present with your family instead of madly googling the next stop while the rest of the crew plays or worse, melts down.
For more tips on staying on budget while travelling with your family check out my post Family Travel: 6 Ways to Save $$ and Have Fun.
What are your cost saving family travel tips? Please share in the comments below.