Welcome to Day 5 in our Travel is… series!
As a homeschooling family, we feel traveling with our children is a great way to make lasting memories together. From daydreaming about where we want to go, to planning the trip, talking about it in the days leading up to it, and finally traveling all have one thing in common, this is all done together as a family!
Our family has experienced many different kinds of traveling and destinations over the years. Long road trips to other states, Disney World, flying, camping and going on cruises to other countries are just some examples of our family travels.
Whether you travel to another country or just to the next town over to camp, my number one tip to making your travels as memorable and affordable as possible is to spend time researching your destination ahead of time. Taking the time to research and plan can save you so much money and aggravation!
By doing this, you become familiar with the area you are traveling to. You can find the best places to visit (or avoid), discover those hidden gems only locals might know about and even come across special deals and coupons for your destination.
For example, when planning a trip to Disney World or a cruise, I have two favorite message boards I use for my research: Disboards and Cruise Critic. Both are places I can gleen specific information as well as ask other members questions.
When it comes to camping, I look up the potential campground we would like to reserve and find reviews about it from fellow campers who have been there before.
This usually helps me determine if this is a place I want to stay, the best site to park my camper and any other little tips about this particular place that might not be listed on the campground’s website. I can’t tell you how many things I discovered over the years, simply because I researched, that made our travels more memorable!
Being that we are a large family, not only do I want our travels to be memorable, but I also want them to be affordable. I’ll be honest, we are a family that treasures “presence” more than “presents”.
When it comes to holidays and birthdays, gifts in our house are kept to a minimum. Instead, we choose to save up to travel as a family (not only in the gift area, but I have many other ways we save money as well). If you were to ask one of my children what their favorite memory is, I guarantee you they would choose something they saw or experienced while traveling rather than a gift they received.
With that said, I have found different ways over the years to make traveling affordable. My best piece of advice in this area is to determine what dates are considered “off season” for the destination you want to visit, and travel then!
Many places offer great deals during their slow months to draw in some business. For Disney World, this would be in September when everyone has just returned to school.
Our last 2 trips we even got free dining! If you are booking a cruise, sailing between October and December (excluding holidays) is considered their slow season.
Campgrounds have “off seasons” as well (this varies by location). All-inclusive resorts in Mexico are drastically reduced between May and September. If you have the ability to travel last minute, you can also find some amazing last minute deals!
Other tools I use to save money when traveling:
- AAA offers it’s members discounts on hotels, trips, free maps, etc
- Costco, Sam’s Club and similar warehouse memberships offer travel and trip deals
- Use websites like Airfare Watchdog to get the best price on flights
- Groupon Travel offers great deals on hotels and packages
- Look for hotels that have “kids eat free” offers
- Search the web for the specific place you want to visit to see if there are coupons or online codes offering discounts.
We don’t stay in hotels very often but when we went to Tennessee for 10 days, we were all in a little one-room motel together that had a fridge and microwave. I took our own food along with a griddle and hot plate and fed my family in a variety of ways using these appliances.
I had prepped and frozen a lot of our food prior to the trip so it made our meals a breeze. Doing this cut down on costs drastically. If you have a coffee pot in your hotel room, you can use it to heat up plain water to pour over instant oatmeal packets, instant soup, etc.
Sometimes saving money while traveling involves a little thinking outside the box.
Sit down today as a family and brainstorm places you’d like to visit. Perhaps an overnight trip to a nearby town to tour a museum or it could be as big as a trip to another country. Get those thoughts and dreams on paper then figure out how to make them a reality. Half the fun of traveling is in the planning!
Oh and when you do travel, if you’d like to see your trip from your children’s perspective, give them an inexpensive digital camera. The photos they capture can be quite amazing!
If you could travel anywhere today, where would you take your family?
Please click the image below to see the other posts in this series.