I love to explore with my kids. Our flexible homeschooling lifestyle allows for lots of mom-kid adventure, even if the adventure is just to the local grocery store (trust me, with the kids in tow, there’s always a story to tell…for better or worse) or to an activity on the other side of town. My tiny, tiny *deal* obsession also makes exploration and travel adventure possible without breaking the budget.
Recently, I piled the kids in the car and headed toward NYC. “Piling” is indeed the correct word apparently. One gas station attendee remarked upon seeing us exit our vehicle that it looked like a clown car because “they [kids] kept coming out.”
If you’ve never traveled with your kids by car, or alone with one or more child, it’s a definite bucket list must! If the thought freaks you out…HOURS & HOURS & HOURS in the car with kids, maybe that’s a sign to try it and push the limits of your comfort zone! Some of my best experiences have been on mom-kid outings.
Think you can’t afford to travel with the kids? Think again.
Travel doesn’t have to be expensive. There are lots of ways to snag awesome deals and make travel fit within your budget.
1. Plan & research. You don’t have to be super organized or type-A to plan a fabulous, affordable trip, but a little advance legwork will pay off. Look for off-season deals, leverage deals online and score the best deals, read blogs, ask around (friends, online forums, parenting boards) for “been there done that” experience and travel tips.
2. Find Cheap Accommodations. Name your own hotel bids, camp, rent out a hotel or apartment instead of a hotel at a place like homeaway.com or a room at airbnb.com. I scored a super posh 4-star, “major brand,” hotel stay using a popular online name your own hotel price site for just a little over $50, plus taxes. Score better deals by staying just outside of your destination area. For example, if you’re fine with a day trip or two into NYC and don’t feel compelled to stay in the city, score huge potential savings by staying in Connecticut or New Jersey and driving or taking the train in.
3. Look for cheap, healthy eats. Use coupons to score deals and stock the car in advance with water, juice boxes, snacks and fruits so you can skip convenience stores. Skip places like McDonalds and other fast food eateries in favor of healthier, often cheaper options, like grabbing a bagel with cream cheese at a bagel place and combining it with your pre-packed fruit. Look for restaurant coupons or deals in advance before you travel and print them out (e.g., restaurant.com vouchers or coupons printed directly from restaurant websites). You can also buy food at grocery stores to avoid fast food and have a picnic along the way–save cash you’d otherwise spend on lunch fast-food and spend your cash instead on a better restaurant for dinner.
I scored lunch for less than $2.00 on my recent trip. Yes, LESS THAN $2.00 for all the kids at IKEA, New Haven on my recent adventure! Tuesday happens to be kids-eat free day! I’m IKEA crazed, so my car stops at IKEA, free food or not.
By the way, if you’ve never glimpsed IKEA’s wonderful kid & mom-friendly bathrooms before, here you go….another reason I HEART IKEA:
4. Plan your gas fill-ups. Gas will cost more at certain destinations. You can get “gas price comparison” apps for your phone or shop ahead before you leave. For example, I try to time my fill-ups so I never need to buy gas in Connecticut. The prices there are consistently outrageous. Save more by filling the tank using grocery store fuel incentives.
5. Use your library. Check to see if your library offers discount passes off museum admissions. Load your technology with free eBooks, audiobooks and tunes for your trip. Borrow DVDs or audiobooks.
6. Grab a journal. Your kids will stay entertained with a journal. Have them fill it up with pictures, stories, quotes, memories from the road trip. It’s a cheap way to keep them entertained–and it makes the best EVER souvenir, so you can skip those overpriced ones at the tourist stop.
Got travel cheap family roadtrip adventure advice? Would love to read it below!