Hey everyone! I am super thrilled to introduce you all to today's guest post contributor, Leslie Campos. She is the creator of Well Parents, a lifestyle resource for health-conscious parents. Today she is sharing her tips for budget family travel. Let's give her a big CFT welcome!
Sharing a love of travel with your children is a prime opportunity for the whole family to learn what it means to be a world citizen. When you travel to faraway destinations, the experience brings your family closer together. An adventure with your kids can be a wonderful journey, but it can also be a struggle at every turn if there is a lack of preparation. It’s tempting to overspend when the kids are crying and everyone is hungry and tired.
However, your trip doesn't have to be a luxury that will leave you with financial regrets. Whether you are flying across the country to visit Aunt Flora or packing up the minivan to hit the road for a weekend of exploration, there are many ways to keep everyone in the family happy, healthy, and comfortable all along the way — and keep your budget in check along the way.
Everyone needs nourishment, but there's something about the nature of travel that makes hungry bellies even more urgent. It's a great idea to do a bit of advance planning and pack even more snack items than you may think you need.
Pack perishables like fruits and veggies or mini sandwiches to be eaten first in ice-pack lunch boxes, and then move on to healthy dried goods like snack bars and dried fruits. Be sure to replenish your snack supply as you go at every opportunity instead of stopping at expensive restaurants. Or, better yet, save on sites like Rakuten and stock up on bulk snacks so that you know you’ll have enough to take you through until the end of the trip. That way, you won’t be tempted to splurge on gas station guilty pleasures.
If you are still struggling to decide what, exactly, to pack, don’t worry, we have plenty of options for you.
When you’re traveling with older children, popcorn and beef jerky are solid choices. Each provides some level of nutrition – beef jerky has lots of protein while popcorn is a whole-grain – and won’t make a huge mess like Goldfish crackers. Carrots and grapes are also healthy whole foods that travel well, even when they are not on ice.
Picky children are a little harder to please, but most kids enjoy peanut butter sandwiches and trail mix. Dried fruit, sunflower seeds, and dry cereal will also work, but you might need to be prepared to do a bit of cleanup. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to pack wet wipes, small trash bags, and a portable vacuum to ensure that your backseat does not become the place that uneaten snacks go to die.
Another consideration when you are traveling with children that will be eating in the car is to make sure they can actually handle the food you give them to eat unsupervised. For example, toddlers should not be given free reign of the popcorn or carrots. You also want to avoid giving them any kind of sticky or sugary foods or juice boxes that can explode if squeezed too hard.
Activities for Kids on the Go
Keeping kids occupied on a plane or in the car will go miles toward a happy travel experience for everyone on board. Singing, games, and books are always a big hit to keep kids entertained and tend to be affordable. Even if you may normally limit your children's use of electronic devices in favor of other types of activities, you might consider being a little more lenient during those long hours of travel. Also, make sure everyone has a moment to get out and stretch their legs every so often, as this will keep morale high.
Allow for Extra Time
Staying mindful of time on the planning side of things can save a lot of stress later on down the road. Account for long lines at the airport and traffic jams. Be sure your little ones have had a good night's sleep, recent bathroom breaks, and that they are ready to sit tight.
Be Ready for Anything
As part of travel preparations, especially on a road trip coming up in the near future, you'll definitely want to ensure that your insurance coverage is up-to-date. While you are looking for ways to save on costs, it's a perfect time to take a closer look at your auto insurance policy to find more ways to save money. There are a lot of breaks for conscientious drivers. All states require minimum auto coverage, but many drivers find that the peace of mind from having full coverage is well worth the extra cost. When you get full coverage, you are covered no matter what — even from uninsured drivers — a fact that's reassuring when little ones are in tow.
You may qualify for cheaper insurance rates based on a variety of factors. One way is to bundle your policies. Another is to install an anti-theft device in your vehicle. And if you drive below 12,000 miles per year and are a safe driver, you are likely to find discounted rates available to you. It's always wise to compare policies from various companies to see where you can maximize savings. You might save hundreds per year, cash that you can put into your travels.
At the end of the day, traveling with young ones is a worthy challenge. However, setting in place some key preparations will help set the overall tone for smooth sailing as you and your family discover a love of travel together.
Leslie Campos created Wellparents.com to offer help and resources to busy parents who want to stay healthy and active. Her site offers parents a variety of information from stress-busters to exercise ideas to healthy eating tips. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, CrossFit and watching the Great British Baking Show.