Most of the travel bloggers I see are single with no children. This can be discouraging to parents (especially single parents) who have been bit by the wanderlust bug…. but it doesn’t have to be***. As a single mother, who loves to travel, I have had to learn ways to afford it. I speak from the standpoint of a mother with ONE older child. I’m not a huge fan of taking infants and toddlers on fancy trips that they won’t even remember, but to each his/her own… My son is 13, and he and I have been traveling since he was in elementary school. Here are some tips that I’ve picked up along the way:
1. Prioritize: Sounds simple enough right? But really, something will have to give. You can (or I can’t) buy your child all of the latest gadgets, have them participate in football, karate, band, AND have a private tutor teaching them Japanese. Not only will you not have any money left, you won’t have the time. Pick one activity for your child to participate in at a time, and hold off on the latest I-phone (trust me, the 5 works just as good as the 6).
2. “Free” Cities: There are many cities in the U.S. that have a TON of free things to do: Festivals, Parks, Museums… Did you know that the Smithsonian National Zoo in D.C. is FREE? Many cities have free entry to activities on certain days. Some great “free” cities are: Washington D.C., New York, Minneapolis, Chicago
3. Road Trips: Face it, flights can be very expensive. Hop in the car, and head somewhere close (or not so close).
4. Group Trips: See if you can get some friends and family to go with you. You can rent an apartment or house and split the costs. VRBO has great deals on vacation homes, that are often cheaper than hotels. They homes typically have kitchens, so you can buy groceries and cook instead of eating out.
5. Public Transportation: Coming from Houston where there is limited public transit options, I was a little leery of taking the train/bus in Chicago. I fell in LOVE!!! It was SO easy, SO convenient, and SO cheap. You save on a rental car, and you save on parking fees.
6. Cruises: I personally, love nothing better than flying to a resort and relaxing. HOWEVER, when traveling with my son, a cruise is much better bang for my buck. Cruises have all you can eat food, activities for the kids AND activities for adults. Cruises also allow you to book now and pay later. You can book a cruise year(s) in advance. You don’t have to worry about price drops, because with Carnival’s early saver program, if the price drops, you can get a price adjustment.
7. Add additional days to school holidays: We obviously have to work our travel schedule around our kid’s school schedule, so flying at off-peak times is not an option for most parents. But you can usually reduce the cost of your flight by leaving a day earlier or later. For instance, if you are taking a trip for Memorial Day Weekend, leave the Thursday before, instead of Friday. The travel savings can be as much as 50% off, sometimes more. You can usually ask the teachers what they have planned in advance to ensure that your child doesn’t miss anything important.
8. Be realistic: Lastly, be realistic. Chances are, you won’t be able to jet-set the globe at the rate of your single, childless peers, and that’s OK. You know why that’s OK? Because you aren’t single and childless. 🙂 Enjoy life at your own pace!
*** Disclaimer, I realize that if you have more kids, travel will be more expensive.