Vacationing with Kids: Keeping Extra Costs Under Control

Heather says:

The children and I were very lucky this trip, most of our meals have been provided. This has been a very enjoyable experience, but tomorrow we return to reality and cooking. Typically the change of scenery is about all the splurge that fits our budget.


To keep costs in line with our vacation budget we:

  • *Plan our meals.
    We’ve gone so far as to bring our crock pot on trips.
  • *Locate a reasonable grocery store.
    If you are staying in an area geared to tourists, you may have to increase your search radius to find more reasonable prices.
  • *Bring our own spices.
    Use twists of wax paper or plastic wrap to transport.
  • *Don’t underestimate the savings of bringing reusable water bottles.
    In my experience the “I’m thirsties” lead to trips through the drive throughs. Additionally, I have never been asked to return spill resistant bottles to the car at any venue. I would always honor that request, so I don’t feel guilty bending that rule.
  • *Pack snacks
    When we’re looking for treats, I usually hit Big Lots. We aren’t picky and don’t care if the cookies are holiday themed.
  • *If you have attractions on your list, an Entertainment Coupon Book may be a worthy investment.
  • *Reward kids for not begging for items from hucksters by having a stash of favorite treats.

How do you stay on budget when travelling with kids?

Heather is sharing pics on Flickr and her personal blog.
All details on what was provided by can be found here.


  1. DC Becca on April 6, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Avoid the kid-friendly restaurants that have gift shops (the initials of one that comes to mine are CB). I made the mistake of stopping at one of these places on a cross-country trip last summer with my girls (just me and the 2 and 3 year old). Lordy me….the gift shop bill cost almost as much as the lunch!!

    That night we stopped at a Wamalart (ha ha) before settling into the hotel room for the night and I picked up bread, PB&J, CheezIts, Cheerios, Pop Tarts, etc. I made tons of sandwiches and little baggies with snacks and we ate lunch at the rest areas along the way for the rest of the trip, instead. The girls got to spend a lot of extra energy (yay….naps in the car, mom’s favorite!) and I didn’t have to buy them robotic hamsters in plastic balls to get them back in the car (said hamster has been newly christianed RHINO, of course).

    The key to doing ANYTHING with kids is thinking ahead and being prepared. Even then….kids behaviors can change when faced with a lot of traveling and new places. Mom and Dad being calm and ready to change plans often helps, too!!

    ***I hope your week at MB was great! The photos sure look amazing. You’ve got me all excited for our MB beach week in June, now. I can’t wait to see the ocean again.***

  2. CJ on April 5, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Your tip about finding a grocery store is always part of our travel to-do’s.
    Cold cereal, milk, fruit, snacks, yogurt, sandwich makings, cheese and crackers (paper bowls and plastic spoons) keep travel budgets under control.
    We usually pack a 12 x 12 x12 inch collapsible, rolling cooler too. (Pack it in your suitcase or use it as your “carry-on”.)
    That way we can bring sandwiches, fruit and drinks along with us and keep them in the car for the I’m hungry, I’m thirsties”.
    The collaspsible cooler has been been a budget godsend and a great convenience too. We rarely travel anywhere without it.

    Extra tip- fill empty water or soda bottles with water and freeze. Use these as the cooler ice. Bonus- you cqn drink the water when it melts.
    If the place you’re staying does not have a refig./freezer, take some extra heavy ziploc bags along, fill with ice and double bag for leak security.

    -For the “I’m thirsties” who want something other than water, pack some pre-sweetened ice tea or kool-aid powder and add a spoonfull to their water bottle for a treat.

  3. Melissa on April 4, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    When I was a kid, our family rarely got to go out places because there were 8 of us total. When we did get to go to a special place, like the zoo or a museum, we each were allowed to pick one item from the gift shop for under 5 dollars. We were told at the start of the trip, and reminded throughout to pick wisely, since we would only get one thing. We went to a lot of buffets to eat, made our own sandwiches, and snacks were usually pieces of fruit from wherever we happened to stop for gas. The “I’m thirsty” plea never worked. We were reminded that we would get some water at gassing up/snack time, but no stops in between, so we always made sure to drink plenty of water, and use the bathroom, while stopped.

Leave a Comment

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