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Summer Family Fun

How to Make Family Vacations More Affordable

Nine simple ways you can cut down on costs when taking the whole family on a trip.

Mom on the beach with her childrenShelly Strazis

4. Leave the Kitchen Sink at Home

When you’re traveling with young children, it’s easy to succumb to the temptation to pack every single toy, book, and blanket they own. However, most airlines will charge for overweight bags, in some cases as much as $50. Leave all that gear at home. Instead, bring one or two favorite toys or books (although, if you have a tablet or a smartphone, they can probably get most of their entertainment through that). The same goes for gear like portable cribs. Call your hotel before leaving—most will lend you one for free.

5. Skimp on Dinner

My kids are especially prone to what I like to call “Vacation Appetite Syndrome.” They rarely finish a full meal while we’re on the road. If you’re going to be eating in restaurants while you travel, you can save a bundle by skipping a separate kids’ meal and ordering an entrée your child is willing to share with you.

6. Bypass Fast Food

Depending on how far you’re traveling (and whether your kids are actually young enough to get those free seats we talked about earlier), road trips could be less expensive than traveling via plane (although the price of gas is expected to rise dramatically by the summer months). Fast-food pit stops en route can really eat up your budget, though. Instead, skip the drive-thru window and make a detour to the nearest grocery store. You can stretch your legs and choose some healthier snacks and meals that cost less than a burger and fries. Many grocery chains sell pre-made meals and sandwiches to go, and you can pick up drinks and fruit for the road.


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