For most of us, traveling is something we want to do, but we also have a budget. For my family, traveling in the most affordable way possible is really important for us because we travel a lot. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way to make your pocket change go a bit further.
-Pack a lunch! Whenever possible, pack food for your trip. It is always nice to eat out while you are traveling (in theory), but we make sure we are only eating out once a day, and pack the other food because it ends up being cheaper to buy groceries. If you don’t have a cooler, invest in one, or borrow one from friends. This will make your trip a lot more cost effective. Make sure to pack easy things to eat like individual cheese slices, fruit, dry cereal, and of course sandwiches. We also try to avoid junk food because when you eat out for your one meal, it might not be the healthiest. Plus giving our kids healthy snacks keeps them happy and alert while too much junk can cause a bellyache.
-Agree on a souvenir budget before you start your trip. This will help you not to spend a large chunk of your total budget without thinking about it. It will also help you to avoid the souvenirs you won’t care about later because you will think more carefully about each purchase.
-Eat family style. When you do go out, if there is an option to eat family style, go for it! This usually ends up being a much cheaper option for us, and we don’t end up with wasted food. Since our kids are still small we usually order two adult plates, some bread and some fruit or salad, and split up all of the food between the four of us. Especially in Europe where children’s menus don’t exist, this is a smart play for any family. If you have older kids, make sure you find a few things on the menu you will all like, and follow the same procedure.
-Share a bed. This is really only an option if you have smaller children. On our last road trip Ksena and Katienne slept in the same bed. We put them to bed in two different beds, and then once they were conked out, we moved them together, at opposite ends. It worked out really well.
-Go where the locals are! Not only does this ensure yummy food (locals don’t eat at the less tasty touristy places), but it guarantees you won’t be paying the tourist price for your meal. Local places that don’t cater to tourists are always more affordable. When the hotel office manager suggested a very touristy sounding place for Travis to get food while we were in Thessaloniki, he went on his own hunt and found an amazing local place on the backside of the hotel. It had the best chicken kalamaki I’ve ever had, and it was really affordable.
-Think ahead of time. When you are on your home turf, you know what is a reasonable price. When you are traveling, you have no idea if one store is charging 100 percent more than another one down the block, so it pays (literally) to be prepared. If you know you are going to need sunscreen and baby soap, think ahead and bring some with you. You will be glad you did when you see a small bottle of SPF 8 for 25 euros.
I hope this list helps, and if you have any other suggestions, please post a comment! I would love to read it, and I’m sure the other readers agree. And don’t forget to check out the rest of the series for other tips and tricks of the road.