By Leslie Campos
With school underway and summer heat ebbing, early fall is a terrific time of year for families to snag a little time together. What’s more, you don’t need to go broke doing it, since there are some simple strategies to help make the most of every penny. Here’s how you and the family can eke out one last long weekend before cool weather makes its yearly debut.
Staying close to home is one of the easiest ways to make travel inexpensive. By checking into nearby events and attractions, you save money on gas and airfare, and you can also make the most of your time.
Believe it or not, some studies reflect we spend over two hours at airports each time we walk through the doors! That’s four hours your family could spend doing fun things and four hours of trying to entertain your kids. Rather than spending so much time in transit, sitting in airports, awaiting luggage, and so forth, a local adventure gets you to your destination quickly, and you can start having fun!
There are often fun-filled events scheduled throughout the fall (think pumpkin patches!). You can look into area festivals, visit a nearby national park, or take in a state fair. Adult admission to events like these is usually minimal, kids are often free, and your days will be jam-packed with sights, sounds, and plenty to do.
When you reach the evenings, adults are often worn out, and kids typically get bored. With that in mind, bring something to entertain them, like inexpensive travel games. A busy-bag of thrift shop goodies or a book to fill with stickers can give youngsters something to whittle away time.
Another idea is to bring a gadget to stream their favorite shows. A portable streaming device, along with access to a TV or computer and wifi, allows them to enjoy movies, videos, or the latest in their favorite series. Look for a streaming stick that offers the features you want and fits your budget, so you can have it in-hand in time for the trip. It’ll also be convenient if you decide to fly after all since you’ll have downtime in airports and hotels.
Even with the incentives of staying close-by, maybe you have good reason to take to the skies – you might have frequent flier miles to use, or perhaps you have a membership at a hotel that gives you a great deal.
If you’re looking to score an inexpensive last-minute flight, Cheap Flights recommends being flexible on location as much as possible, and you might want to examine a late night or early morning travel time.
On the bright side, some experts feel those early and late flying times can be more agreeable with kids anyway. Kids tend to be happy and excited about their adventures in the morning, and during late flights, they can sleep.
Feeding the family can get pretty expensive, but there are ways you can fill everyone’s bellies without overspending. One suggestion is to fill them with food at home before you leave, so you aren’t going to a drive-through right off the bat. Plan a make-ahead breakfast that gets everyone moving and avoids beginning your trip with “hangry” attitudes. Pack some road snacks for the highway, and if you’re heading to an outdoor event, a picnic can be part of the adventure. When you do eat out, plan to hit restaurants where kids eat for free or next to nothing.
Don’t be afraid to enjoy an end-of-summer family trip. Decide whether it’s time to explore local fun or head farther out, plan meals that are easy on your budget, and keep things entertaining. You and the kids will have great memories to savor without breaking the bank.