Guest post by Jenna Francisco – Part I
On my own
When I was younger, I was a real budget traveler. I slept on floors and friends’ couches or stayed in $10/night places, ate whatever was cheapest, and rarely splurged on anything special. That was fine by me because it allowed me to see many countries with very little money. However, now that I have a child, being a budget traveler is not as easy because young children can be picky and traveling with them has its own challenges.
Family travel and tips
Budget travel with a family is a little more difficult. Some of the ways we’ve been able to travel as a family while still staying on a budget include the following:
- visiting family, which is actually a travel adventure since they live in Brazil and Indonesia
- finding free activities that my son enjoys, like going to parks and toy stores
- traveling to great local places (like Lake Tahoe) that require a drive but no airfare or long stay
- using multi-city flights so that we get an extra stop without paying additional airfare, like when we stopped in Japan on the way back from Bali and paid no additional airfare.
I think that trip to Bali and Japan was my favorite family trip because it was a great mix—we stayed at my father’s house on Bali, which made it comfortable, but we still did plenty of adventurous things, and the time in Japan was also an adventure because we went on the trains, subways, and buses with our son in a stroller. It wasn’t easy, but we loved every minute of it.
Another budget family travel tip is to combine travel with family needs by planning fun vacations with family members. For example, when my father and stepmother came to visit, we all went to Point Reyes, California, and rented a house on the water for a couple of days. It was really fun and totally comfortable for my son since there was a yard and plenty of room to run around. Having a kitchen with a little one is really important since kids don’t really like to sit in restaurants.
When we rented that house, we made pancakes for breakfast and warmed up leftovers from the night before, which made our days so much easier. We hope to go to Italy soon, and when we do, we will likely rent an apartment in one place for most of the time. It won’t allow us to visit as many places, but it will give us the stability and comforts that children need.
(For ideas on places to stay, check out Hotels and accommodations: where to stay when you travel)
A child’s point of view
For those of you who want to travel with children, put yourself in your child’s shoes. No matter where they are, children enjoy simple things—they love to go to playgrounds, have ice cream, play in fountains, and see animals. Even throwing in one of these activities per day may allow your child to have the patience to sit through lunch or go to a museum, and these activities are free or very cheap.
(Why traveling with kids is worth it – To travel or not to travel…with kids?)
Jenna lives in Sacramento, California, but loves to get away whenever she can. She studied and lived abroad and has traveled extensively through Europe. She has a multi-cultural family and visits family every year in Brazil or Indonesia. As the mother of a toddler, she is learning new ways to travel. She also enjoys yoga, art, cooking ethnic foods, being outdoors, and reading.
Stay tuned for an interview with Jenna in Part II!