I guess all parents with small kids can agree: traveling with children can be expensive. Airfare, hotel accommodation, food, theme parks, science museums, zoos, and not to mention, the toys and souvenirs our kids want us to buy – they all come with a hefty price tag. If you’re not careful, these travel expenses can put a huge dent on your bank account. 

Don’t get me wrong. It’s priceless to see the spark in our kids’ eyes and the genuine smiles on their faces when they’re enjoying themselves, as they hop on a theme park ride or meet Mickey Mouse in Disneyland. However, we’d honestly appreciate it if there are alternative ways to make our kids jump for joy without hurting our wallets. 

If you’re looking for cheaper ways to travel as a family after the pandemic, check out these 9 amazing tips. 

1. Forget theme park rides: visit nature parks

Let’s be honest: theme parks are time and money burners. The admissions are generally expensive. Once you’re in, you’ll need to endure long queues for just a short ride, pay for overpriced, not-so-good junk food, and try to take your kids’ attention away from the souvenir shops. 

Why not visit a vast nature park and embark on a true, thrilling adventure? Let kids get more in touch with nature. Bring your food and have a picnic while enjoying the presence of trees, birds, and cool winds. Engage in activities like hiking, ziplining, boating, fishing, cycling, swimming, horseback riding, and bird-watching. 

2. Go camping for a day or two

Speaking of great outdoors, why not go on a family camping trip? Encourage the kids to disconnect from technology and pretend to be a wilderness explorer. Look for cheap or free campsites, take a tent, bring a portable stove, pack only the essential supplies, and experience a day or two in the wilderness. 

3. Give the kids some vitamin sea

Looking for a cheaper alternative to expensive water parks? While beaches don’t have colorful inflatables and slides, your kids might enjoy greeting the roaring waves, building sandcastles, and picking seashells. Pack up some goggles and let them see little fishes underwater as you accompany them while floating. 

4. Spend a family day out at a kid-friendly museum

Is there such a thing as a cost-free, kid-friendly attraction where they’ll learn a lot about history, art, flora, and fauna, and geography? Fortunately, there is: a museum. Museum admissions, from archeology to natural history, are generally free. You can also find museums that provide free tours and workshops for families and kids. 

5. Opt for kid-friendly hotels

Does the hotel allow children to stay for free? Do they let kids eat for free? Are there kid-friendly meals on the menu? Does the hotel room have a kitchenette where you can prepare your food? Do they have kid-friendly amenities, like playgrounds and inflatables? How about services and programs that’ll allow parents to relax for a bit while children are occupied? 

Not all hotel accommodation options are the same. Aside from looking for budget chains, consider family-friendly hotels that will help you save money on your family trip while keeping your little ones entertained. 

6. Travel off-peak

Unless you’re ready to face massive crowds and pay higher rates for hotel accommodation and airfare, you might want to schedule your trip in an off-peak season. Avoid major holidays and weekends. Instead, travel when the majority isn’t, like mid-week (Monday to Thursday). 

7. Pack your own food

Food and drinks make a huge chunk of our travel budgets. If you’re looking to save, it’s always better to bring your own food and drinks, from light snacks to munch on during the road trip to hearty picnic lunches. Just make sure your tourist destination allows and even encourages packed food. 

If you’re staying at a hotel, take advantage of the free breakfasts and fill yourself up so everyone won’t be too hungry during the day. 

8. Give kids their own money to spend

Here’s the trick: kids will spend your money faster if they have no control over them. On the other hand, they’ll be more likely to be frugal if they have the cash on hand. As soon as the money becomes theirs, they’ll think twice and weigh the pros and cons before buying something, making sure it’s a wise buy.

9. Use public transportation for short trips

If you’re not bringing a couple of baggage, we recommend traveling using public transportation. It’s usually more practical than spending a lot on fuel. And besides, public transportation is a fun travel experience itself for children, as they look at sights from a different vehicle. When it’s finally safe to go out, let them ride on trains and buses.