Single Parent Travel: How to Plan a Family Vacation You Can Afford
Vacationing isn’t cheap. Vacationing as a single parent living on one income with a gaggle of kids can feel downright impossible. However, while you might not be able to take yearly international vacations, you can still pull off great family vacations on a budget. These tips will help you plan a vacation that saves money without sacrificing fun.
Get off the beaten track
Traveling with kids isn’t the time to see the Louvre or go to Times Square. Not only is it way too stressful wrangling kids in a crowded tourist attraction, but the biggest tourist destinations also come with the biggest costs. Instead, travel to places where your kids can be kids and you don’t have to worry about them disappearing into a crowd. Outdoorsy destinations like beaches and national parks are always a hit with families, due to both their all-ages fun and their low cost.
Use miles to fly
Driving is typically cheaper for big families, but road trips are hard to manage when you don’t have a copilot to keep an eye on the kids. If you prefer to fly, save money on flights by earning miles when you spend money on everyday purchases using an airline credit card.
Avoid seat selection fees
As a single parent, it’s especially important to ensure your family sits together on flights. Unfortunately, more and more airlines are charging extra fees for seat selection. To ensure your family sits together, book as early as possible to snag the limited seats available for free seat selection and avoid “Basic Economy” fares that don’t assign seats until check-in. Southwest lets parents with children 6 and under board together at no extra cost, but if flying Southwest with older kids, you’ll need to pay extra for Early Bird Check-In.
Prepare your “parent phone”
Whether you’re using GPS to find your way or perusing restaurant reviews for a place to eat, you’ll be using your phone a lot while traveling. Make sure you don’t get stuck with overage charges when you return by making sure you have plenty of data. If you usually run out of data or cut it close every month, that may mean choosing from unlimited phone service plans so there’s no need to worry. If traveling internationally, see if your carrier offers an international package that lets you avoid expensive pay-as-you-go roaming charges. Your smartphone is a fantastic tool for international travel, and you don’t want to be stuck without it.
Book vacation rentals
Few things are more frustrating than paying for overpriced meals for your kids only for them to take two bites and say they’re done. To avoid awkwardly carrying around doggy bags or feeling guilty for throwing food away, book a vacation rental where you can cook your own meals. While you’ll miss out on continental breakfasts, you’ll be able to prepare foods you know your kids will eat and do it at a fraction of the cost.
Beware hidden fees at all-inclusive resorts
All-inclusive resorts are another great option for family travel because everything you need is on-site and prepaid. Save money on all-inclusive resorts by searching for resorts where kids stay free and looking for deals on sites like Expedia.com. Just look out for resorts that charge a “single supplement.” Many all-inclusive resorts charged based on two adults, but some resorts waive the extra cost for singles.
Have your paperwork in order
Nothing throws a wrench in family vacation like getting held up because you don’t have the right documents. In addition to Passports, make sure you have a notarized Child Travel Consent form before traveling out of the country with your kids. A Child Travel Consent is proof that both parents give permission for a child to travel out of the country.
Making memories with your kids doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune on travel. While you’ll still want to plan and save for your vacation, these tips will help you plan a fantastic family vacation for less.
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This article was contributed by:
Janice Russell – Blogger
Janice Russell believes the only way to survive parenthood is to find the humor in it. She created Parenting Disasters so that parents would have a go-to resource whenever they needed a laugh, but also to show parents they aren’t alone.