fbpx Skip to Content

Avoid These Money Drains on Your Next Family Trip: Insider Tips to Keep Your Wallet Happy

Avoid These Money Drains on Your Next Family Trip: Insider Tips to Keep Your Wallet Happy

Sharing is caring!

Are you planning a family vacation but stressed about money? Keep scrolling to check out my top budget travel tips for families!
This list of budget travel tips for families was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Hey, fellow parents!

As a mom to two awesome but always hungry boys, I’ve learned a thing or two about navigating the financial whirlwind that is family travel.

Let’s be real: between the snacks, the souvenirs, and the “Mom, can we go there?” requests, your wallet might start to feel the pinch before you’ve even left your hometown.

But fear not!

After many adventures, misadventures, and learning the hard way, I’ve gathered some insider tips to help you avoid those money drains on your next family trip.

Trust me, with a bit of planning and these tricks up your sleeve, you can keep your wallet happy and still make those priceless family memories.

We usually find a few ways to save money, even at theme parks! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

How to Save Money on Your Next Trip with Kids

1. Beware the Souvenir Trap

Souvenirs can quickly turn from cute keepsakes into major money drains.

Here’s what we do: Each of my boys gets a set budget for souvenirs before the trip starts. They know that once it’s gone, it’s gone, so they’re more thoughtful about their choices.

We also love collecting free or low-cost souvenirs like postcards, pressed pennies, or natural items like seashells (where it’s allowed, of course).

2. Skip the Pricey Restaurants

Eating out at tourist spots can cost a small fortune, especially with kids. We’ve started packing our own snacks and sometimes even full meals for day outings.

We usually stop by a pizza place during our trips. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

When we do eat out, we try to go where the locals go—the food is usually better and less expensive. Also, many places offer early dining specials or kids eat free deals; these are worth seeking out!

3. Avoid Excess Baggage Fees

Airlines love to hit you with those extra charges for baggage. We’ve learned to pack light, bringing only what we need and making sure our bags meet the airline’s size and weight requirements.

Sometimes, doing laundry at your destination can be cheaper (and less stressful) than paying for extra luggage.

4. Watch Out for Mobile Data Costs

Roaming charges can be a nasty surprise on your phone bill after a trip. We either switch to a local SIM card with a data plan (much cheaper) or make sure to use Wi-Fi whenever possible.

Image of Woman using her mobile phone on platform subway station
Decide if you can turn off data for some or all of your trip.

Before we leave, I also download maps, guides, and anything else we might need so we can access them offline.

5. Plan Your Transportation Wisely

Taxis and rideshares are convenient, but those costs add up quickly. Whenever possible, we use public transportation—it’s cheaper, and often, it’s an adventure in itself.

Image of a boy standing on a NYC subway
We found the NYC subway system easy to navigate. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Walking when you can is not only free but a great way to see the sights.

If we do need to rent a car, I compare prices and book in advance for the best deal.

6. Be Smart About Attractions

Admission fees for family attractions can be one of the biggest expenses on a trip.

To save money, we look for city tourism cards that offer discounts or free entry to multiple attractions. It’s also worth checking if attractions have free entry days or discounted rates at certain times.

7. Avoid Last-Minute Booking

Booking your flights, accommodations, and even some activities last minute can sometimes lead to higher prices.

Modern white passenger airplane standing on parking place and get ready for boarding passengers in international airport Vnukovo
We always book our flights months in advance.

Planning ahead has saved us hundreds of dollars, as we’re able to snag early bird deals and avoid peak pricing.

8. Stay Hydrated the Smart Way

Buying bottled water throughout the day is not only bad for the environment but can also be quite costly.

We each have a reusable water bottle that we refill throughout the day. Many places have safe, drinkable tap water, or you can find water fountains in a lot of tourist areas and theme parks.

9. Get Creative with Accommodations

Instead of pricey hotels, consider alternatives like vacation rentals, hostels with family rooms, or even camping, depending on your destination.

These options can offer significant savings and often provide a more unique and memorable experience.

10. Educate Your Kids About Money

This might be the most important tip of all. Travel presents a fantastic opportunity to teach your kids about budgeting and the value of money.

Image of a kid with a bunch of coins
It’s never too early to talk to your kids about money.

Discussing travel costs openly, setting souvenir budgets, and involving them in financial decisions during the trip can help them understand and respect the budget.

Making Memories Without Breaking the Bank

Traveling as a family doesn’t have to mean draining your savings. With these strategies, we’ve managed to explore new places, learn about different cultures, and have amazing adventures—all without giving our wallet a heart attack.

Sure, it takes a bit of extra planning and sometimes saying “no” to certain things, but the experiences and memories we’ve gained are worth every penny saved. And honestly, some of our most cherished moments have come from the simplest, most cost-effective activities.

So, the next time you’re planning a family trip, remember these tips. Not only will they help you save money, but they’ll also enrich your travel experience in ways you might not expect. Here’s to happy travels and even happier wallets!

Happy adventuring, fellow parents. Let’s make those family trips unforgettable, for all the right reasons.

Looking for more budget travel tips? Check out How to Save on Summer Travel This Year, 9 Fun US Family Vacation Ideas on a Budget, and Traveling on a Budget: 25 Cheap Travel Tips Every Family Should Know About!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.