Friday, June 28, 2019

7 Tips for Thrifty Travel with Kids This Summer ♥

 *This post is sponsored by PSECU, a Pennsylvania-based credit union. 

As your family continues to grow, the idea of traveling seems like a distant thought. You can vicariously live through your jet-setting friends as you scroll through social media, but you'll never afford summer travel with the kiddos, right?

False! Think back to your own childhood. Those of you old enough to remember growing up before modern technology took the scene, you probably had a grand ol' time playing with mud, balls, rocks and whatever else you could dig up. A day at the pool ranked as equivalent to a trip to see the big old Mouse down in Florida. Now that you're seated at the grownup table, you can reflect on yesteryear to plan a memorable summer vacation for the family which won't leave you dining on ramen all autumn long.

1. If It's Free, I'll Take Three
Tons of schools and corporations alike offer free summer programs and day camps where you can take your children. For example, the Lego store allows kids to make a free model they can take with them. Apple offers Apple Camp for children aged 8-12 to grow their digital literacy. The website KidsBowlFree.com has up to $500 in free bowling passes for the kiddos. Hitting the road with a fourth grader? The National Park Service offers free admittance through their Every Kid in a Park programme. For busy little builders, Home Depot offers camps to teach them to build you a better birdhouse.

2. Work Those Miles
 If you've got an airline credit card or a travel rewards card, start using it — just be sure to go online immediately after making purchases to pay off what you spend. This way, you rack up miles at a breakneck pace which you can redeem when treating the family to a trip to see the famous Disney Mouse after all. If slogging through crowded theme parks isn't your thing, then pick a destination off the beaten path to save more money on flights. For example, instead of driving down the shore like you do every year, jet the family to Minnesota to explore the unparalleled beauty of the many lakes where you can kayak and canoe to your hearts' content.

3. Search Online for Discounts
Yes, you can find travel deals by searching online, but to do so, you need to search properly. Start by putting your browser into incognito mode. Then, try searching using these parameters: Search for single price tickets even if buying for the entire family group. Airlines sell single tickets at lower rates as they know large groups won't want to split up, meaning they can demand more money for family fares. Search nearby airports. Sometimes, a different airport 50 miles further away from your destination can save you hundreds in airfare, but do the math before booking — you don't want to save a little only to spend more on rental cars and gas. Search flexible dates. If you get paid time off and don't have to travel on a long weekend, try booking a flight on a Tuesday afternoon, as fares fall to their lowest around 3 p.m.

4. Head to the Great Outdoors
You don't need to invest in a ton of pricey equipment to go camping. In fact, many young children enjoy the novelty of sleeping in a simple pop-up tent under the stars. If you own a four-wheel drive vehicle, skip the campsites and their smelly port-a-potties and find a new favorite spot off the beaten trail. To save some money, most kids, especially younger ones, get ample adventure sleeping out on the back porch, so give them a sleeping bag, flashlights and snacks and let them get their outdoor slumber party groove on. Plus, you're still only moments away for emergencies.

5. Use Public Transportation
Who says you have to drive everywhere yourself? If you take light rail or a bus with the little ones, you, too, can lose yourself in your iPad instead of holding your tongue while they kick your seat. Plus you'll save a small fortune in fuel, and you'll reduce your family's carbon footprint. See which cities or local towns offer public transit from where you live and book a day trip for the whole family. A day of exploring is sure to leave you with a quiet, slumber-filled train ride home.

6. Think Alternative Fun
If your children are under the age of five, they won't remember much about their fabulous trip to Disney World, so why not wait and save for when they're older? This summer, think of alternative, cheaper plans. For example, many local parks and recreation programs have special summer programs for moms and tots. Community centers, too, offer everything from arts and crafts to sports on the cheap. You can even squeeze in your workout while the kids play.

7. Be A Tourist in Your Hometown
Many times, when we live in a place, we fail to see the wonders others travel the globe to see. Live near New York City, Philadelphia or Washington, D.C.? Make a day or weekend trip to the nearest metro and tour the sights. Take your kids to explore the new and improved FAO Schwartz toy store in the Big Apple, or take them on a historical tour of spots like the Liberty Bell before heading west and touring Gettysburg. Even going to a PA Dutch farmers market can be an adventure for young children — I still remember the name of the horse an Amish gent let me feed carrots to at our favorite childhood roadside stand when I was five.

Summer Travel with Kids Don't Need to Cost Much
The best things in life are free or nearly so, and this holds true when it comes to summer travel with the little ones. Even if you can't afford a big, lavish getaway this year, there is plenty to delight both you and the entire brood awaiting your discovery. What are you waiting for — book your family summer getaway today! For more frugal travel tips, check out this helpful graphic created by not-for-profit credit union PSECU!

How to Be a Thrifty Traveler - Infographic


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