I was blessed to grow up in a home where travel and adventure was important. My parents took my sister and I all over the country creating beautiful memories and a love for exploring. I am thankful that I met a man with the same passion for vacationing and trying new things. We decided in the beginning of our relationship that we would spend the rest of our lives travelling as often as possible and keeping it a priority. When we got pregnant with our first (of four), we were told by many people to let go of vacationing. We refused to believe that our children couldn’t adapt to a life of new experiences. We vowed to continue what we loved. I am proud to say that we haven’t slowed down at all. Things look a little different on our excursions now, but still wonderful!
Let’s talk about the number one question I get when it comes to travel with kids. I get asked all the time how we handle car rides and how we adjust nap times. People wonder how we get around school schedules and how I deal with stopping a baby from eating sand on the beach (side note, you let them enjoy all the gritty goodness). But the number one question I get is, “How do you afford to travel?”!
There are plenty of items and activities you can cut out to cut down on spending in order to focus on putting your money towards things you are passionate about. Now is a good time to create a list of things you are willing to change in order to start saving for that vacation you keep dreaming of taking.
Here is a list to help you get started:
- Personal Grooming
- Hair– For yourself; choose a hairstyle that doesn’t need to be cut as often. Dying your hair is expensive. If you learn to love your natural color, you will save a lot of money. For your family; learn to cut their hair for them. I resisted this one for a while, but I taught myself to cut my husband and sons hair. They need their hair cut often, so this is also a large amount saved. Here is the razor I use and love: Cordless Rechargeable Wahl Clippers (Not being plugged into the wall is a huge bonus!)
- Nails– Do you really need a manicure and pedicure? If the answer is yes! Then do you really need it every week or every month? Maybe it can turn into a special occasion thing, and you can learn to do your own at home.
- Hand Me Downs– Children’s clothing is expensive! If you have friends or family that are willing to give you clothes when they are finished, love and appreciate them! Shop at places like Once Upon a Child or Plato’s Closet.
- Find a Store Card with Rewards– We love our Old Navy Credit Card for the points we rack up. I use that card to purchase gas and groceries, and then I use my earned points to get new clothes when we need them.
- Search for Sales– Stores often run awesome sales. Don’t be scared to shop ahead and store things until your little ones need them. Buy winter clothes at the end of winter for the next season. You can get great deals that way. Here is how we store our clothes that aren’t currently in use: Organizing Your Perfect Nursery
- Borrow Items from Friends– If you have a wedding or big event, ask around to see if anyone has a dress and shoes you can borrow. And be willing to do the same for your friends.
- Buy in Bulk– Costco and Sams can save you a lot of money if you are good at meal planning and prepping.
- Grocery Budget-Work hard on planning ahead to get the best deals. Eating healthy and mostly organic is very important to me, so I use Kroger Clicklist to stay on track. I work through my budget at home and search for deals. I look through coupons to see what will save the most money each week.
- Eat Leftovers– Don’t let that food go to waste. You spent money on it, so incorporate it into another meal throughout the week. If it is going to go bad, freeze it for later.
- Eating Out– Fast food and dinners out can blow a budget quickly. I would much rather food prep on Sundays to have less days I need to drive through.
- Drinks– Make your coffee and tea at home. I need to practice this one! I drive through Starbucks more often than I care to admit. But this is on my list of goals to work on. I would rather have that money to put back towards our next vacation.
- Less is More– Kids get overwhelmed when there are too many toys. Options are good, but we often give too many. Sometimes a cardboard box and markers are enough to entertain your child for days. Toys are expensive! If you feel guilty not buying a toy, just stop and think about the experience you can give your child with the money you save. They will remember that vacation way longer than they will remember the toy collecting dust in the closet.
- Again, Hand Me Downs– Shop for big items through yard sale sites. Accept items from friends when their little ones are moving on.
- Share with Friends– My kids have a really fun “rental system” going on with their best friend. They check things out and return them the next time we see them. And she does the same at our house.
- Cut the Random Spending!
- Your Favorite Store– While Target is my favorite place to go, it is also my biggest money pit. I have to limit my actual trips in the store. I always leave with items I did not intend to buy. I use their pick up option to choose items I actually need while I’m sitting at home with a clear head. I place my order and someone brings it to my car. If it isn’t Target for you, think about where you go and accidentally spend.
- Want vs. Need– Learn the difference in want and need. I used to get mad at my husband because he would say things like, “You didn’t NEED that new yoga mat, you WANTED it.” I’m not saying don’t reward yourself with new things sometimes. And I’m not saying head to the gym with holes in the thighs of your yoga pants. I’m just saying start to focus on learning the difference between want and need.
- Set Up a Vacation Savings Account– Watch your budget as you start to spend less on random items. Don’t be scared to start to put some of that extra money into a separate vacation fund! It can add up quicker than you think.
It is ok to not let go of everything! You still want everyday life to run smoothly and be enjoyable. Challenge yourself and have grace as you find what works best for you and your family. And enjoy your vacation!
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