Traveling, especially with kids in tow, is hard on the budget. From airlines nickel-and-diming you with fees to the high costs of hotels, food, gas and admission tickets to theme parks, heading out for some summertime fun with the family is a spendy experience.
However, with some planning and a good dose of determination, your family can enjoy summertime excursions and keep your pocketbook relatively intact. Whether you are heading out for a few days at the shore, thinking about a road trip or flying across the Atlantic to Europe, check out these budget-friendly travel tips:
Pre-Purchase Whatever You Can
When you travel, time and money are precious. Save both by buying tickets to attractions before you leave for your trip. For example, if your kids are clamoring to go see "Aladdin" on Broadway, avoid the long lines and ticket scalpers and buy them online. Get comfy with the kiddos on the couch, bring out your tablet and browse through the variety of family and budget-friendly shows.
Embrace Your Inner Tourist
Even if you have lived in New Jersey your entire life, chances are good there are portions of the state you have never visited before. Pretend you are a tourist and plan out a road trip route that will enable you to see how beautiful the Garden State really is. This will save you money on flights and other large costs.
For inspiration, check out Planet Ware as it has a great list of vacation-worthy things to do. Some of these include heading to Atlantic City and its famous boardwalk or traveling south to Cape May and spending a relaxing weekend exploring the scenic beauty of the Cape May Point Lighthouse, Emlen Physick Estate and Yankee schooner. Other suggestions include the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, Princeton and the historic Battlefield State Park.
Use Smaller Airports
If your summer vacation plans include flying, save money by thinking outside of the airport box. Many low-cost airlines service small regional airports that are near large cities. While you might have to drive farther and have a smaller selection of flights than you find at JFK or other behemoth airports, you will save a lot of money on tickets. A great example of this is Spirit Airlines that flies out of Atlantic City International Airport.
Hit the Local Grocery Store
While your kids love to drop tons of quarters into hotel vending machines, you can save a pretty penny by making a quick trip to the local store for drinks and snacks. This tip applies whether you are taking a day trip within New Jersey or a 10-day excursion to Disney World. Even if you only purchase a case of water, you’ll save a bundle (24 bottles runs around $4, whereas the vending machine charges at least $2 a bottle, which adds up to $48 for the case). If you have room in your car or suitcase, bring along some kid-friendly snacks that will keep your children's tummies and your wallet full.