5 Tips to Help You Plan a Budget Friendly Trip With Kids

5 Tips to Help You Plan a Budget Friendly Trip With Kids

This year we decided to take a family trip to the beach. We started figuring out logistics. How long are we going to stay? Where are we staying? Who are we inviting? What is our budget? I know that it may sound like I am a bit overboard with the planning, but trust me; it can make all the difference. We first began by deciding whom we were going to invite. My long-time boyfriend and I went through our list of friends and decided to invite a few of his relatives and our closest friends. We have a daughter and all of our friends have kids of their own, and this as well made the difference. Why? Because when you plan a trip you want to make sure that the people you invite will have similar needs and expectations of the trip. No we were not going to take a trip to go gamble, or go to the bar, or go to the club; it was a family trip and we thought parents would understand that.

I immediately began finding a place to stay, preferably walking distance from the beach. I will explain a little later why location is important when planning a budget friendly trip with kids, or even alone. Our first step was figuring it out this; WHAT IS OUR BUDGET AND HOW WILL WE REACH OUR GOAL?

Our “Dream” money saving jar

First Tip: Start saving!! (Obvious right?), but here are some fun ways to do just that

  • We got a jar a while back that I specifically set aside for our “dream” or “want” items. Whenever my partner and I want to start saving for things we consider “extra” or unnecessary, we begin to put money in this jar. We do so consistently.
    • We begin by throwing our spare change there and any loose dollars we get when we go to the store or we buy something and are given change back. We then set aside an amount of money, maybe $20 or even $10 every time we get paid or we come across extra money. We do so up until the day of our trip, or until we reach our budget goal. This time we were able to save almost $700 in about three months!
    • Throwing money into the jar and setting the jar somewhere where it is not easily visible can help you save money without the temptation that having it our bank sometimes has. It also makes it fun when the whole family can put money in the jar. It makes everyone feel like they contributed to the trip!

Second Tip: Choose a location that benefits your overall plan

  • This year we decided to go to Santa Cruz Beach in California. This is a perfect beach for families because it has a boardwalk with a mini theme park and a beautiful dock to stroll at sunset. This of course also makes it quiet expensive and it becomes crucial to choose the right place to stay in.
  • Most places will charge fees. In this case we knew we would have to pay parking fee. We would have had to pay $20 every day per vehicle at the beach. We had two vehicles and we were there for three days, which would make it $120 just for parking. OUCH! We decided we needed a place walking distance from the beach to avoid those fees.
  • Do not be afraid to stay in a less-than fancy place or share a room with your friends. Some Inns have great reviews and most of the time we only use these places to sleep because we are too busy touring.

We were able to pick a location with fair prices that was only a five-minute walk to the beach. SCORE!

Third tip: Figure out what you want to splurge on. Some people really like splurging on their meals; while some rather splurge on the activities they plan to do while on their trip or on souvenirs. In this case we wanted to spend most of our money at the boardwalk riding the rollercoasters. We had to find a way to save on meals! Here is what helped.

  • Pack a lot of snacks that will calm your hunger. This will prevent you from buying all that junk food and making last minute purchases. Many tourist attractions charge very high prices for food because they know most people do not want to venture far to eat cheaper.
  • We also packed easy foods like; egg and bacon burritos that we kept in a cool place, and breakfast cereals we could have for a quick breakfast.
  • You can also find a hotel or Inn that serves breakfast with your stay.
  • Plan to have maybe only one expensive meal a day at a local place (usually again expensive because its an attraction) and venture out of your area for cheaper meals the rest of the time.

Fourth Tip: Find free activities or attractions.

  • Do some research. Many places have free museums, parks, or historic landmarks that can save you a lot of money!
  • Going to the beach is also a great option because aside from parking, they are usually free!
  • Find places that charge less on certain days.

This leads me to my bonus tip

Fifth Tip: Plan your days strategically.

  • Your trip can be significantly cheaper if you plan your days
    • For example, most flights and hotels are cheaper during the week or on Sundays. We planned our trip for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday and we paid $100 dollars less a night because it wasn’t a weekend. That’s a savings of $300!
    • Like mentioned before, some places have discounts if you go during the week or on non-holiday days because they have fewer people going

*Visit discount websites like Trivago, Hotels.com, or Booking.com to find cheaper hotels and flights.


Hope that some of these tips were helpful and that you enjoyed my content. Let me know if you have any more suggestions and I would be happy to help you!!

-Elena @ Elenathinkslife.wordpress.com






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