Best Budget Tip I Ever Learned For Travelling With Kids

February 10, 2012

The following is a guest post from Anna as part of the Yakezie  blog swap. Anna writes for the personal finance blog, Good Cents Savings, which focuses on helping you save money, stick to a budget, and live well on less. Be sure to head over to her site to check out my post.

You shopped around for flights, the hotel, rental car, attractions admissions, and found coupons for eating out. And just when you’re patting yourself on the back for planning such an economical family vacation your kids spot the first of dozens of souvenir stands. Everything is insanely overpriced, and many of the items are sure to break before you get back to the car. Of course one smart way to deal with this is just to avoid the gift shop all together – stay away consistently and your kids will never expect anything different. But, I learned a tip I love from a friend for those times you do want to give your children something special to remember the trip. Buy their souvenir ahead of time.
Before a trip to a theme park shop online for an inexpensive toy, t-shirt, or figurine featuring your child’s favorite character and give it to them as a special gift during the trip. If you’re visiting a zoo or aquarium younger kids might like a stuffed animal version of one of the creatures they’ll encounter and older children might enjoy a book where they can learn more about them. When a trip revolves around a professional sports game, shop around for a discounted baseball hat or other fan gear to buy before you leave – you’re likely to find one for a fraction of what you’d pay at the stadium.
This tip works for grownups too. If you know you (or your spouse) will be tempted by high priced items while travelling do a little comparison shopping beforehand to see if you can find them for less away from the tourist spots.
Another thing to remember about taking the kids on vacation – they get just as excited about a camping trip in the woods as they do about a ski trip, Caribbean getaway, or week at a theme park (ok , the mention of certain mouse might get a little extra enthusiasm, but you get the idea.) The point is that you don’t need to break the bank to create family memories your kids will cherish for a lifetime.

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  • Money Infant February 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    I never thought of doing something like this, but it really is a great idea. Physical vacation memories without the gouging prices charged by the souvenir shops!

    • Marissa February 10, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      I actually dislike souvenir shops. I don’t understand how people lose all common sense and buy a $7 keychain.

  • Jai Catalano February 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Sounds great in theory. I will have to test it out to see the results for myself. I will let you know.

    • Marissa February 10, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      Please do.

  • Michelle February 10, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Great idea! Never thought of doing that.

  • John @ Married With Debt February 10, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I usually avoid the cheap trinkets and try to get one or two more expensive, but meaningful items. Great tips here.

    • Marissa February 10, 2012 at 8:03 pm

      I think kids don’t really need to have the most expensive trips (they don’t realise the worth anyway) Its all about the excitment created before it.

      • John @ Married With Debt February 10, 2012 at 8:16 pm

        I agree. We were going to go to DC last summer but went to Chicago (closer and cheaper). Our daughter had a great time.

        We are going on a megaEuropean vacation this summer, and the kids aren’t going (way too expensive).

  • Pam at MoneyTrail February 11, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    What a unique idea! I may have to give this one a try. I usually give my kids a set budget for souvenirs and have them think about what they might like ahead of time. Then, they are in charge of their money once the trip starts. When it’s gone, it’s gone. I call it “mini-budgeting”.

  • Jackie February 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    That’s a cool tip that I never would have thought of. Plus it gives them an idea of what’s to come 🙂

  • Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer February 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    I love the ideas I’m getting from this blog swap. I thought I was an expert when it came to budget travel but I certainly didn’t have these tips on my list!

    Good point about the destination not having to be expensive. Kids love to go anywhere.

    • Marissa February 11, 2012 at 6:23 pm


  • Taline February 15, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    That’s some great tips! I have an almost 15 month old baby boy and he’s my first so I’m learning it all for the first time. Any tips I get from other parents help me be a better mommy and in this case more efficent with our finances so we wont waste money at the super expensive souvenirs.

    I completely agree that it isn’t so much the place but the fact that they are going on a new adventure with you! 🙂