The three priciest pieces of a family vacation are food, lodging
and transportation. If you can save on those, you can make a family
vacation that much more affordable.
All of the airline cutbacks have made flying an incredibly
expensive way to travel. While the lack of winter weather has meant
fewer flight delays out of O'Hare this year, it's rare to find an
empty seat on a plane these days, so if you want the baby to be
able to travel safely in a car seat, you'll be paying for everyone
The only way to really save money is to drive. Sure, gas prices
are high, but if your family vacation is somewhere within an
eight-hour drive of Chicago, it makes sense to drive. Read this for
tips on deciding whether it's cheaper to
fly or drive on a family vacation.
Hotels are the default idea for most families on an overnight
trip. But if you're traveling with kids,
consider some alternatives: rent a condo, do a house swap or mooch
off of the relatives.
Any of those options will give you more room, maybe even a
separate bedroom with a door that locks so the adults can have
their own fun while the kids blissfully watch Cartoon Network in
the other room.
Mooching off the relatives doesn't have to mean spending time
with crazy Aunt Sarah. Just be clear when you ask if it's OK for
you and the brood to visit if you want to spend time with Aunt
Sarah or just commune with her spare bedroom. If you want her to
serve as your hotel, tell her you have a full schedule of
activities already planned and really just need a place to say for
the night. Then be sure to include her in at least a few family
activities. If you don't think she'll go for that, reconsider the
cost of the hotel room.
If you have rented a condo or are staying in a house, whether
it's one owned by Aunt Sarah or one you swapped with another
family, saving on food costs is easy. Since you'll have a kitchen
and a car (you drove to save money, remember?) stop at a grocery
and stock up on breakfast and lunch staples before you check
If you're in a rented condo, you'll need to bring in just about
everything. But if you're in a house swap or staying with a
relative, you'll save even more because the kitchen likely comes
stocked with ketchup and mayo. You just need to supply the bread
If you save on transportation, lodging and food, your next
biggest cost will be paying for all the fun you have. If you're
really creative, even that can be cheap. There are free
things to do with kids in all 50 states.
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.
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