Seven travel tips for parents on a budget

Summer is traditionally a time for travel, but it can be expensive when you have kids in tow. Rather than forgoing the annual trip, consider these tips if you’re planning to hit the road with your children this summer – or anytime:

1. Go as a group

It depends on the kind of vacation you’re planning, but if you’re thinking of renting a cottage or another kind of property consider asking another family to join you. Not only will you be able to split the cost of the rental, but your kids will have other kids to keep them company.

As an added bonus, you’ll get some adult socializing time too! Before you go, make sure to sort out how you’re going to split chores like cooking and child minding, as well as how you’re going to split bills and expenses.

2. Swap homes

A home exchange can be a good way to keep costs down, and if you swap homes with a family who also has children, you could even end up with an already childproofed environment and toys to play with.

Also read: Why I pay my kids to do household chores

3. If they’re old enough, give your kids some spending money

Obviously you will cover the major costs associated with travel, but if you tell your children that they have to use the money you’ve given them for incidentals like special snacks and souvenirs, they are far more likely to be frugal with it.

This should also keep the, “Can you buy me this? Can I have this?” requests to a minimum. This is a great tactic for kids aged seven and up.

4. Buy groceries 

If you have to eat every single meal at a restaurant, costs can add up pretty quickly. Once you’ve reached your destination, purchase healthy snacks and breakfast items so you can eat at least one meal in your hotel room and avoid costly between-meal food purchases.

Also read: Tips for raising money-smart kids

If possible, stay at a family-friendly hotel that has rooms with mini kitchens. This allows you to store more food and gives you even more flexibility as far as preparing meals goes.

5. Carry on wisely

Accidents happen at the most inconvenient times, so if you’re flying, make sure to pack a change of clothes for you as well as your children in your carry-on. This will allow you to quickly change out of soiled clothes mid flight, and it means that you don’t have to purchase something expensive at the airport during a layover.

6. Rent large baby gear 

This isn’t an issue if you’re doing a road trip and have the space, but if you’re flying you may be able to avoid shelling out extra money on baggage fees for strollers and pack-and-plays if you arrange to rent these types of items once you reach your destination.

Also read: You too can raise a ‘blue chip’ kid – An interview with David Bianchi

7. Don’t try to pack too much in

What good is seeing three museums and four historic sites in one day if your kids are in full-fledged meltdown mode because they are tired and over stimulated? Overcrowding your schedule is a waste of money if no one is enjoying the sightseeing.

Choose a few very important must-see destinations, but make sure you also allow for unscheduled time to do whatever you and your family want to do.

If traveling during the summer just isn’t in the cards for your family right now, visit to find out about Foresters community volunteer activities. They are an amazing opportunity for you and your family to reconnect and give back to the community.

Spend a day preparing care packages, building a playground or cleaning up at the beach– there’s an activity no matter what you’re interested in!

Also read: How to introduce money basics to your kids

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415204 CAN/US (05/17)

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Kristin Zita

Kristin Zita is an Oakville-based freelance writer with a soft spot for telling stories about extraordinary people and ideas that make a difference. When she’s not tapping the computer keys, she is knitting for charity while pretending to watch hockey with her Leafs-loving husband. You can find her on LinkedIn.