International travel tips

Exploring the big wide world with kids

This week our mom bloggers reflect on traveling abroad with the family. This is the eighth of our Family Travel Blog Series. If you missed previous posts, check out:

Crossing a rice field in Thailand.

Road trip tips

Saving Money on Food

Packing for Family Travel

Saving Money on Transportation

Selecting Family Travel Destinations

Choosing accommodations

Exploring a new place

Follow the links to each of the contributor’s websites for other great travel tips and educational resources!

Our tips from World Wise Kid

Our family values international travel for the educational elements, adventure and developing a global understanding. Here are some tips for getting closer to the people and immersing yourself in the culture of a new country:

Smile and greet people.

Watch some YouTube videos to learn the basics of the language. Choose a “word of the day” that you all learn and practice to keep your language skill developing. Ask the locals for help with pronunciation.

Watch a documentary about the place you will visit. Human planet, BBC Earth, National Geographic, or the History Channel give some background to a new place.

Stay in a guesthouse, homestay or farmstay instead of a tourist hotel.

Choose accommodation in a small town – wherever you land at the end of the day – where you can experience how people live outside of the big cities.

Let the kids see what it’s like to not understand the situation – include them in the problem-solving.

Trust in the flow of travel. Let unknowns play themselves out. Allow serendipitous encounters – they often become the best stories.

Regina at Fulltime Field Trip

International travel is an exciting experience. Things can work differently from country to country. Here are three important tips to keep your international travel smooth and safe.

Communications –There are a million ways/apps to stay connected and free WIFI all around the world. But sometimes you want/need an internet connection from your phone.
•Contact your service provider and ask about short term international plans, they may be more affordable than you thought.
•We like to get a SIM card in the country we’re visiting. FYI, your phone must be unlocked for this. While we may pay a bit more in the airport or bus station, it’s worth it to have what we need to help us navigate to our next location.
•For talking to anyone from taxi drivers to friends back home, we like WhatsApp. Viber is great when you need to make a call, like to your credit card company or airline.

Money – How will you access your money?
•Look for credit cards and banks with no foreign transaction fees.
•Inform your financial institutions where you’ll be traveling so your accounts aren’t frozen for potential fraud.
•Find out what your daily withdraw limit is and decide if you need to increase it.

Paperwork –In theory, all you need to travel is your passport. In certain places, and for certain types of visas, you may also need birth certificates and a marriage license.
•Keep your documents safe in a waterproof, RFID protective case.
•Keep a hardcopy of your documents somewhere in your luggage.
•Have a digital copy on your phone. Preferably somewhere that doesn’t require internet access to retrieve, like your notes.
•Ask a trusted friend or family member back home to keep a digital and hard copy of your documents in case of an emergency.
*We’ve absolutely used this last one!

Travel abroad…prepare to be amazed.

Kirsty at World for a Girl

The other day, we sat down and counted up the number of countries our five-year-old son has been to – we counted 29! He’s very well-travelled and his little sister is not far behind. Many of the countries we’ve visited have been a world away from our former ‘safe, cosy’ life in the UK. At the moment, we’re living in Malaysia. Drawing on our experiences, here are two things to consider whilst travelling in developing countries with young children.

1) Adjusting to different safety standards (if any at all) can be challenging (especially for parents). You always need to aware of potential dangers. From dodgy playpark equipment, street stands with flaming grills to open sewers, keeping your eye on toddlers and younger children can be hard work. Try carrying toddlers in child carriers as a way of keeping them safe and speak openly to older children about any dangers.

2) Culture shock can affect children as much or more than adults. Children like routine and rhythm in their lives. They might find the sights, smells and sounds of new places unsettling. Try to empathise with them, acknowledge the things that might worry them and give them the time and space to adjust to their new surroundings. Bring familiar toys and sometimes spend more money to go to a restaurant or indoor playground that reminds them of home.

Yamy at Go Fam Go

I always have a contingency plan set up whenever I travel especially abroad. When traveling internationally, you have to deal with unfamiliar cultures and bureaucracies in place.

One of the useful things to know when things go awry is how to access an emergency fund.

Aside from my travel pocket money, I have an emergency stash of cash in a safe place on my person, in case of lost luggage or theft. Hiding it in a piece of clothing like socks or shoes will allow you to use them when all you have is yourself.

Another source is your bank. You don’t necessarily need to open a foreign bank account to do so. Bank fees for wire transferring are expensive and are based on a percentage of the amount that you’re sending. Services like Xoom or Remitly have websites and apps that allow you to instantly send remittances to yourself when abroad. Rates are usually fixed. Check their partner locations where you could personally pick up your money (affiliate banks, money exchangers, or delivery to your hotel room). You can set up an account before traveling.

A good travel credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees is also handy.

Sunset in Napflio, Greece.

Kris at Gadsventure

When travelling internationally, I always try to plan a trip based on short flights. Not only is it cheaper when travelling with a large family, but it also takes a lot of the stress of flying away.

Our youngest is almost 2, so for our current trip in SE Asia, we have her still sitting on our laps! The flights around Asia are only between 1.5 and 3 hours in length so we don’t have to be cooped up in planes for too long at all. This still maintains excitement levels high with the kids!

I also love the cultural value you get from travelling in a place like SE Asia. Not to mention the food! And when travelling with 4 kids, keeping costs down is super important too, that’s why places like Bali, Thailand and Vietnam are our go-to destinations.

Shannan at Captivating Compass

There are really only 5 basic travel tips for international travel. They are simple, fairly inexpensive and effective. In fact, all of these have been tested by myself and a multitude of other travelers, so I’m sure you will benefit from each of them.Be flexible. Planes are delayed, kids get ill, and shops close early.

Be flexible. A flexible attitude goes a long way in making the best of these inevitable situations.

Make a list. As you plan, even months in advance, making lists will help you keep things organized. From itineraries to packing, to places not to be missed, your lists will help keep it all organized along the way.

Learn a few phrases. Knowing ‘Thank you’ and ‘Please’, in the local language is a minimum. Improve your language skills before you go, if possible, and then try them out in-country.

Bring a sarong. It might seem funny now, but you’ll be so glad you did! Use it as a blanket, a hood or head covering, a shawl, and even a skirt or dress.

Get travel insurance. Without question, you need travel insurance. An accident or illness in a foreign country can be complicated, stressful and expensive. Good travel insurance is worth every penny just for the peace of mind.

Nikki at Yorkshire Wonders

Living in the UK we often fly for our holidays. When we visit Florida the flight is 9 hours on the way there (shorter on the way back!), but we have always chosen a flight with seat-back entertainment which is a lifesafer when you have kids! We also choose the four seats in the middle of the plane, and I sit on one end and my husband on the other, sandwiching the kids between us. They definitely feel more comfortable like this, as it’s their own private space then, and if they are comfortable they are happier! When we do shorter flights to Europe I make sure the kids have their tablets fully charged and a movie downloaded. When they have watched their own movie, they can then swap tablets and watch the other one’s movie!

Annette at Tips from a Typical Mom

A few tips from when my husband and I went to Mexico:

Passports take a very long time to get, so you should just get one now. Whether or not you are planning on traveling out of the country, it’s always good to have a passport for you and your family members.

Pack a bag that works as a carry on and is roll-able. I packed a carry-on but it was a duffle bag and it was the WORST to hold on to in the custom’s lines.

Research the area where you are going and find out if the water is drinkable. If not plan accordingly. Learn as much as you can about the culture so you don’t stand out like a sore thumb. You don’t want to look like a tourist.

Get an undergarment “fanny pack’ to keep all your money, passports and credit cards safe.

Call your bank and let them know that you are going out of country so they don’t freeze your cards.

Call your cell phone service provider and ask them about how to get an international plan for the amount of time you will be gone.

Melissa at Disabled Disney

My tips on international travel:

Get a document holder for passports and whatever documents you need. Make sure it is RFID protected and waterproof! And keep everything together.

Check if you need a physician statement about your medications. You can use http://www.incb.org/ to check for guidelines on controlled substances if you are taking any. Also take your original prescription bottle with you. In keeping with medications make sure your medications are in your carry on. The horrible truth is luggage gets delayed, lost and even stolen. If you keep your medications with you, it is less likely to encounter these problems while travelling. Also if you have disability needs you will need to research what the country you’re considering would have available for you. Not all countries have the same disability access laws.

Tiffany at Mommy and Me Travels

Traveling internationally is exciting but also has some additional stressors that you need to be prepared to overcome.

First and foremost, you can purchase almost everything you might need in other countries. The items that you need to ensure you have with you are your passports, insurance cards, and prescription medications. If you land in a country and have these 3 items, everything else is able to be located in local stores. You might not know what the brand of diapers is that you are buying but hey they still work.

Second, you will get the most bang for your buck if you do not try to convert one currency to another in a bank or one of those stands at the airport. Withdraw money with your debt card from an ATM. The currency conversion rate is usually much better because there is no fee involved as there is when you use a bank to change money. Also, look for credit cards that have no international fee. Not only will this make your purchasing power better but it helps to keep track of all your expenses while adventuring around another country.

Third, help your kids recover from jetlag by having a big breakfast the first morning you arrive, even if you just landed and it is breakfast time. Usually people think because they aren’t hungry they shouldn’t eat. This is not the case when you are traveling. Filling up bellies first thing in the morning helps kick start your body into knowing that you have started your day and adjust to a “new normal”.

Sarah at State by State

Traveling internationally is exciting, but a little scary at the same time. Foreign language, foreign food, and a foreign culture are all things to consider when traveling to another country. People from all over the world come to the United States. They especially seem to love visiting our national parks. So, while I have not personally traveled internationally, I have witnessed first-hand those that travel to the US.

From observing these travelers I have learned many things about traveling to an unfamiliar place. My number one recommendation is to be respectful of the rules and customs in the country you are visiting. Research what these my be before you go and learn from the locals once you arrive. Doing this will enhance your travel experience because people will notice your efforts and be willing to help you more.

Sarah at Dandelion Seeds

Most of the travel in my adult life has been international. I’ve learned a lot of lessons that differ from what I know in my life in the United States. One of the most important, however, was to bring an old-fashioned paper map of the area I was visiting, particularly when I didn’t speak any of the local languages. True, GPS works nearly everywhere on a mobile device. When it hasn’t, however, I’ve found myself in some suboptimal situations. A paper map isn’t necessary in areas where someone is likely to speak your language, but pointing at a map is a wonderful universal “language”—and a great safety net.

Also, study the local transportation system ahead of time. If you’re traveling by train, do you insert the tickets into a machine for a stamp/validation before boarding, or not? If driving, are there tollroads, and how do they work? Knowing ahead of time is incredibly helpful!

Next week’s family travel blog topic: Making memories with your family travel.


Road trip tips

I just can’t wait to get…

This week we share 12 perspectives from seasoned travel moms with our insights into how to have successful road trips. This is the seventh of our Family Travel Blog Series. If you missed previous posts, check out:

Visiting the ancient city of Mycenae on a lone hilltop in the Greek Peloponnese
Visiting the ancient city of Mycenae on a lone hilltop in the Greek Peloponnese – easily reached with a rental car.

Saving Money on Food

Packing for Family Travel

Saving Money on Transportation

Selecting Family Travel Destinations

Choosing accommodations

Exploring a new place

Follow the links to each of the contributor’s websites for other great travel tips and educational resources!

Our tips from World Wise Kid

We love exploring landscapes with a good road trip, following a map on a mountain, coastal or desert road, bringing the contours to life. While traveling across monotonous flatland to get somewhere, the kids can color, game, read or draw, but when the landscape itself is a reason for the travel, it’s important to encourage them to look out the window and learn about the culture and life as we travel through a new and different place.

Listening to audio tracks is entertaining and educational. While road tripping through the Peloponnese region in southern Greece, we listened to interviews of Rick Steve’s free audio guides on the Eastern Mediterranean. While exploring Hawaii, we tune into hula music on the radio or a CD. When we toured Florida, we listened to Hoot, Flush, Chomp and Scat by Carl Hiaasen – youth fiction that takes place in the Everglades and Keys. We download Podcasts to listen together: KidsNuz, StarTalk, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me… and RadioLab. We sync to the car speakers with Bluetooth or an audio cable so everyone can hear clearly.

We love a very loose agenda when road tripping – with time and freedom to stop in an interesting looking shop or cafe, or run across a field. We often take breaks in small towns to get coffee and snacks, interact with the locals, learn about their town culture and history and to download another audio track!

Regina at Fulltime Field Trip

Who doesn’t love a good road trip? But when you add kids, you may be looking at a few spills, tons of extra bathroom stops, and at least a million “are we there yet” questions. Here are my favorite tips for road tripping with the kiddos.

Are We There Yet Map.Sick to death of the endless “when will we be there” and “how much longer” questions kids naturally ask? Buy or print a map of the area you’ll be traveling. Next, draw on it each leg of your trip. Pin it on the ceiling of your car for all to see. Or place it on a clipboard to be passed around. On a clipboard, I assign kids to be in charge of this sacred item for an hour or two. A responsibility they look forward to. Not only is this educational and makes a nice keepsake; it truly reduces that ever-so-annoying question.

Snacks.You can never go wrong with extra snacks. When you can’t find a restaurant or you’re stuck in traffic it will be snacks to your rescue every time. We skip anything sugary or messy and always have wet wipes and a towel within reach.

Kirsty at World for a Girl

Since having kids, we’ve become roadtrip fanatics. When you have young children travelling by car gives you freedom, flexibility and lots of space! We’ve done some epic road trips in the last five years including driving the ring road around Iceland with a baby, driving around Cyprus with a toddler and this week, we’re driving the entire length of Taiwan by car.

We’ve learnt a lot on our long car journeys. We’ve had disasters, adventures and a lot of vomiting! Some of our top roadtrip tips are:

Pack lots of smaller bags so you can leave the ones you don’t need in the car boot overnight.

Try to plan each segment of a long drive to last around 2 hours (about the length of a kids movie!) Use Google Maps to locate local parks where you can pull over and play.

Picnics are a wonderful way to experience the outdoors with young children. They are also a great way to break up long drives. Even busy motorways can have attractive rest areas. Plan ahead, bring a cool bag and enjoy some memorable lunches.

Yamy at Go Fam Go

Road trips are money saving alternatives to flying the whole family to your vacation destination. However, usually it means getting there longer.

It can be tempting to keep pushing forward when you shouldn’t. You may have a plan that you want to stick to, but you need to listen to your body. If you are tired, resist the urge to keep pushing, and stay well rested and hydrated. Keep caffeinated beverages to a minimum, and follow the same advice for alcohol. A jittery or hung-over driver can be just as dangerous as an intoxicated one.

Plan for breaks by stopping over for sceneries, checking in a hotel or motel in your route, or doing day trips in a town you’re driving through.

Kris at Gadsventure

We travelled around Australia for 12 months when our kids were very little. The best road trips tips we have gained from this is to only drive short distances, and have plenty of time in between travel times. We find the kids are perfect for the first 4 hours or so, and then things will start to go pear shaped.

Crossing the Nullabor Plain on our Australian Road trip

Crossing the Nullabor Plain on Gadsventure’s Australian Road trip

We also love to leave super early in the morning if we know we have a long haul drive ahead of us, for example a 10 hour trip to see the grandparents. If we can leave at 3am, then we get the first half of the drive under our belts before the kids even wake from their slumbers!! Driving with sleeping kids is a fantastic way to do it!

Shannan at Captivating Compass

Things you need to consider if you’re planning an international road trip:

  1. Will you need a special license, permit or insurance?
  2. What will it cost? Parking, tolls, and petrol are costs you will need to consider above the cost of the car, van or camper rental.
  3. Distance vs. actual drive time. The cultural dynamics of driving in a different country are so varied. Knowing that it will likely take 45 to 60 minutes to drive 30 miles in Scotland (link to: https://www.captivatingcompass.com/scottish-highlands/) is incredibly important if you don’t want to spend your entire trip driving. Give yourself ample time to get from point A to point B when you are in an unfamiliar place. It will almost always take longer than expected.
  4. Become familiar with local road signs and what they mean before your trip. Some are funny, some are confusing. You may even find familiar signs or street markings mean something completely different than what you thought.
  5. Have a co-pilot, if possible. It’s less stressful if you have a co-pilot to help navigate, read road signs, and manage the phone, snacks and music selection.
  6. Have a good mapping app or offline map that you can use without incurring international data charges.
World for a girl explores Iceland

Nikki at Yorkshire Wonders

We like to play the ABC game in the car. So, we choose a topic, it could be animals, countries or capital cities for example. Then we take it in turns, so the first person names a country beginning with A, the second person names one beginning with B and so on. It can be as silly or as educational as you like! When the children were younger we used categories like ‘girl’s names’ and ‘boy’s names’. You can target it to their age group.

Annette at Tips from a Typical Mom

Road trips are pretty much the only way we travel with our kids. We used to live about 4 hours away from family when our kids were really little, so we got really good at road trips. Here are my best tips for road trips with kids:

  1. Only bring water. Do not bring flavored drinks. If you do, your kids will chug them and you will be stopping to use the restroom every 30 minutes.
  2. Have plenty of movies (if you have a dvd player), or downloaded movies on the iPad to give to the kid who is making the most trouble.
  3. Coloring pages, small toys, word searches are all great for when they need a break from electronics.
  4. Put everything away and play games together. 

Melissa at Disabled Disney

We love to go on road trips! As a matter of fact we normally drive to our vacation destinations! So what do you do for long hours in the car? First tip is bring snacks! Kids of all ages can normally be pacified with a snack. Snacks don’t have to be sugary and sweet. You can bring popcorn, nuts (depending on food allergies), cheese (if you bring a cooler), pretzels or whatever your kiddo likes! I have even brought snap peas and baby carrots.

Second tip is games. Take good old favorites like the license plate game…but give them a twist. Make up rules just for your family like the first person who spots three different states gets to choose the music for the next (fill in time parameter). Or the next vanity plate or even choose a letter or number and the person who spots the most of that…wins!

Third tip is choose music your whole family likes to sing along to! With us it’s a good bet that Disney songs, 80’s or metal will be chosen! And fourth tip bring comfy stuff like pillows and blankets! Kids and adults sometimes like to snuggle and take naps on long car rides.

Tiffany at Mommy and Me Travels

Family road trips are some of our most fun and memorable adventures. They have also been some of our most stressful. Well not anymore! We have mastered road tripping and ensuring that the ride is enjoyable for all. Start by thinking back to when you were a child and there were no electronics. How did your parents entertain you? Some of those tried and true games really work. To entertain my 6 year old our favorite is the alphabet game. For this game all you need is your eyes and signs or licenses plates.

To play, everyone starts at A and whoever finds all the letters A to Z in order, wins. It’s a race and you can’t use the same “a,b,c…” as someone else. For my toddler, his favorite game is trying to get the semi-trucks to honk their horns. You play this game by moving your arm up and down as if you were pulling the string for their horn. He gets a big kick out of it and also is focused on finding “another big truck”.

Sarah at State by State

While driving your own car can help you save money on your trip, it can be a challenge for little ones to sit still so long. We are in the car all the time and have learned how to make it a better experience for everyone. The best advice I can give is to break long trips up whenever possible.

When we first started traveling full-time we would drive five or six hours at a time. This made for some really long days. We all felt tired and cranky by the time we arrived at our destination. Now our travel days are only two or three hours. This means we are all in a better mood when we get to our destination and we have time to enjoy it too.

Shorter trips are not always possible for families on vacation. You may need to get to your destination in one day. If this is the case, you can still use this tip. Make sure you stop every two or three hours and let the kids out. When you stop for gas or a bathroom break, let the kids run around for a few minutes. It might make the trip longer, but it will be better for everyone to get out and stretch their legs.

Sarah at Dandelion Seeds

As with all things, know your audience (in this case, the people who’ll be in your car). Younger kids often, although not always, need a lot of movement. It may seem counterintuitive, but I plan to reach our destination as quickly as possible–and that might mean less movement in a single day. It might mean a single uncomfortable day, but then it’s over. If you plan too many stops to “get wiggles out,” it can become increasingly difficult to get back into the car every time. Drive the maximum amount you can handle before that mandatory wiggle time.

Alternatively, and what works especially well with older kids, is to make the journey part of the adventure. There might not be much between Albuquerque and Las Vegas, for example, but spending half a day to walk around Meteor Crater would be a really memorable adventure for the whole family!

Bryce Canyon road trip. Photo credit: Dandelion Seeds

Next week’s family travel blog topic: Tips for International Travel.


Saving money on food

Tips and insight

This week we share 13 perspectives from seasoned travel moms suggesting tips on how to save money on food while traveling with the family. This is the sixth of our Family Travel Blog Series. If you missed previous posts, check out:

eating gnocchetti di mare in lucca, italy
Enjoying gnocchetti di mare in Lucca, Italy.

Packing for Family Travel

Saving Money on Transportation

Selecting Family Travel Destinations

Choosing accommodations

Exploring a new place

Follow the links to each of the contributor’s websites for other great travel tips and educational resources!

Our tips from World Wise Kid

Meals are a very important time for us when traveling – a time to discuss how things are going for everyone, reflect on places we have been and come up with new educational travel blog topics for worldwisekid!

We typically have one big, hot, sit down meal in a nice restaurant or cafe each day. We are selective about where this main meal will be, asking opinions from locals about a family-friendly, non-touristy place that uses fresh, regional ingredients and offers vegetarian options. This meal is a time to observe the culture, connect with the locals and do some journaling or researching our next location.

For the other meals, we find street food and shop at the local market. Breakfast is simple: yogurt, fruit and cereal. Dinners are often bread, cheese, and lots of fresh, raw veggies that the kids need to stay strong and healthy. When we have cooking facilities at a hostel or rental apartment, the kids love pasta, rice and potato dishes and these meals save us a lot so we can splurge on the next nice restaurant meal.

Fried Rice under a banana leaf – a favorite (and reasonably priced) breakfast in Thailand.

Regina at Fulltime Field Trip

Here are five ways we save money on food during our family vacations.

  1. Cooking At Home. Where other people enjoy the sights and sounds of a new city, I’m crazy for grocery stores packed full of new-to-me items. I enjoy the challenge of preparing meals with whatever is available in a particular market.
  2. Pack One Meal. We are always ready for a picnic. Whether it’s hardy sandwiches or carb loaded pasta, we can eat lunch (or dinner) on the go anywhere.
  3. Special Treats. For special, regional food, must-try dishes, we get a couple of orders and share rather than each person getting their own plate. That way everyone gets a taste and none is wasted if it’s not well liked.
  4. Eat On The Streets. Street food is cheap and amazing. They will almost never take a credit card so be ready with cash. For safety make sure the food is piping hot. We look for food carts with a line. A long line means tasty goodness. Some of our tastiest adventures and best memories were made sampling a variety of street foods.
  5. Reduce The Price. Coupons are global. Look for discounts at Groupon, Living Social, tourist boards, those cheesy travel brochures in rest stops, and local blogs that connect you to all types of meal deals. Even in Thailand, we found a Taco Tuesday with half-price tacos.
Picnic on a park bench

Kirsty at World for a Girl

We don’t have a particularly stringent travel budget when it comes to food. We love to eat out and experience new cuisines and cultures. We tend to look for cleanliness and a family-friendly atmosphere over price. However, many of the things we do for convenience actually save us money in the long run.

For example, we always try to book self-catering accommodation. We find it a struggle eating every meal out with young, energetic and noisy kids. Eating breakfast at ‘home’ not only saves us money but the children always wake up starving and want to eat straight away. Likewise, after a busy day sightseeing, a simple sandwich with some salad makes a relaxing and easy supper.

If you’re a parent of under-fives, you’ll also know how essential it is to always have snacks with you. Not only does having a Tupperware container full of crackers or dried fruit prevent tantrums and prove a useful distraction but it’s also a lot cheaper and healthier than an ice-cream.

Snacks and a water bottle – never leave for the day without them!

Yamy at Go Fam Go

Our family loves eating and trying out new places when we travel. You can consider us the type of travelers that will travel for food. When we went to Walt Disney World, you bet, we attended the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. It was an amazing opportunity to sample international cuisines without having to fly to all of them.

The cost of dining out could easily skyrocket for a party of 4 and up, which is usually the case for family travelers. When we travel with a large party, one of our money-saving strategies is to look for a restaurant that can serve family-style dishes. The meals often come in a large serving on a platter. In the USA, the serving sizes of meals are often good for 2 servings. If we don’t end up sharing, we pack the leftovers to go for a later meal in the day. This is especially the case when we book a hotel with a microwave in the room.

Kris at Gadsventure

We are currently travelling through SE Asia with our family of 6 and we have found a few great ways to save money on food while travelling. With a big family, food takes up a lot of our budget!

1. Find accommodation which has breakfast included
2. Stay in an apartment or house with its own kitchen so you can cook some simple meals for yourself. Find a local market for fresh farm produce.
3. Try to eat local style food. For example, Nasi Goreng is so much cheaper than a Hamburger in Bali!
4. Check out the menu before going into a restaurant so you don’t get any nasty surprises with the bill.

Check out the menu prices before sitting down!


5. Don’t stuff yourself with 3 big meals a day. Make dinner more of a snack after a big breakfast and lunch.
6. Prices are higher on the beachfront. All you need to do is go across the road from the beach and you can save half the price on a meal.
7. See if there is a ‘specials’ board.
8. Share meals. We often buy only 3 or 4 big rice meals for our family of 6 and it is heaps for us.
9. When we travelled around Peru you could save a ton of money by asking for the Menu del Dia (the menu of the day). It is a set menu that gives you up to 6 courses for the price of one regular menu item. This would include a soup, a cocktail, appetiser, entree, main and dessert! The key is you have to ask for it though, it is not freely advertised. Remember the Menu del Dia next time you are in Peru!
10. Take some of your own favourite snacks or breakfast cereals from home if you are going somewhere foreign for a short vacation.
11. Eat less meat.

Shannan at Captivating Compass

  1. Pick accommodations that have cooking facilities. Most hostels have a community kitchen and dining room to share with other lodgers.
  2. House sit – Using a well-equipped kitchen is always a luxury while traveling. Cooking for yourself will allow you to splurge on the decadent dessert or local bottle of wine. Stop at the local market for fresh ingredients and try a new recipe. You will make such enjoyable memories in your home-away-from-home while dining in affordable luxury.
  3. Picnic Lunches – On days out, plan on either bringing lunch with you or stopping at a market to buy local cheese, bread, fruit and chocolate for a European style picnic lunch. Plan ahead by making sure you have a bottle opener and cutlery in your backpack. Find the perfect view overlooking a canal, countryside, cityscape or beach. Then, pamper yourself (and the rest of the family) by trying a fancy coffee or local drink before heading out for the next family travel adventure.

Nikki at Yorkshire Wonders

Before we go to Orlando I always check the local voucher sites such as Groupon or Wowcher. You can pick up some bargains here for meals out (and activities too). It’s also worth signing up to the newsletters of the restaurants you might visit as you are often sent vouchers to use for a free starter or dessert. Try to leave this until quite close to your trip as the vouchers tend to have short use by dates – or use a second email to sign up nearer the time. Also check out the ‘Kids Eat Free’ cards.

Even traveling abroad, the kids need their occasional comfort food.

Annette at Tips from a Typical Mom

Food is a huge expense while traveling when you have a large family like mine. Especially with teenage boys! So we’ve learned how to cut a few corners. Most of our trips are done in the car so we pack sack lunches and put them in the cooler along with all the snacks the kids will need while traveling. It’s important to only give the kids water to drink so they don’t guzzle down a huge bottle of juice and then need to use the bathroom every hour. Water is boring so they will only drink it when they are thirsty.

I also look online for coupons to local restaurants we want to try out. I usually find a “kids eat free” coupon at most places, or even free drinks. We also always have the kids share an entree. Most places give you way too big of a serving for just one person. This works for our younger kids, and for our teenage boys, we always make them order something that will keep them full for a long time.

Eat breakfast at the hotel if possible, that’s a huge savings. And my last tip is to shop at the local markets and make sure your hotel has at least a fridge and a microwave. Store bought meals for the family are always cheaper.

Melissa at Disabled Disney

We like to vacation at Disneyland! While it is the “Happiest Place On Earth” it’s also one of the most expensive places on Earth! But there is hope! One of the ways we save money is by NOT purchasing food in the Parks! Wait…did you say NOT purchasing food? Yes I did. Disney allows you to bring in food. So we will bring in snacks, sandwiches like peanut butter and jelly, soda, bottled water, and basically anything we like to eat! The only caveat is NO glass with only a few exceptions.

We eat breakfast either at the hotel or before going in, bring food and snacks with us, and usually will get a late dinner on our way back to the hotel! And we also get hotels with microwaves and refrigerators because then we can buy some cheap microwave things to keep in our hotel room for food! This means we don’t have to buy food in the Parks!!! Although we do usually budget for a small meal or snack in the Parks because their food is really yummy.

Tiffany at Mommy and Me Travels

My family loves to enjoy the foods of whatever city or country we are visiting. As all are aware, this can add a lot of cost for a family adventure when eating out.

If staying in a hotel, find a place with a continental breakfast. Or if you are in an apartment like Airbnb, make your breakfast at “home”. This meal is the most important of the day as it gives you energy to enjoy all of your daily activities. Don’t skip this meal but use the cost effective means available to you for 1 of the 3 meals you will have that day. This will be free or pennies for your morning breakfast budget.

For lunch, find an off the beaten path restaurant. These non-touristy places are usually less expensive but also more authentic. We love to ask the locals where their favorite restaurants are located. Normally, the responses will be places that have great food and is extremely budget friendly. Locals usually aren’t paying an arm and a leg to go out to lunch.

Use a coupon app, we like Groupon and Restaurants.com, to save money on your meals that you are going to eat out. You can find deals like 25% off your bill or a free kid’s meal with the purchase of an adult entree. This will save you a significant amount of money on those “fancy” dinner outs.

Sarah at State by State

Our family spends a lot of time in the car. Driving from campground to campground and also from attraction to attraction. I always pack a bag of snacks before we leave. Having snacks in the car means we don’t have to stop and eat somewhere. Some of my favorite car snacks include: granola bars, grapes, berries, dried fruit, trail mix, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and applesauce drinks. We also keep an old coffee can with candy in the car. The candy is helpful if we have an extra long car trip or need the kids to calm down in confusing driving situations.

Eating on a ship is a unique and memorable experience.

Another way to save on food while traveling is to find restaurants that offer deals for kids. Many places offer kids eat free with paid adult entrees. Having three or more kids means you are still paying for somebody, but it significantly reduces the cost. There are many small town places that offer these deals too, not just large chains. Check their website or Facebook page to see what they have to offer.

Shannon at Grab My Passport

Road Trips – When we road trip we like to pack a cooler bag with sandwiches and fruit, and then pack a reusable shopping bag filled with lots of other snack options, such as pretzels, Goldfish, cereal bars, fruit snacks, etc… We also pack plenty of water and Gatorade. This helps us avoid grabbing expensive gas station snacks or having to eat unhealthy fast food.

Air Travel – Airport snacks can be pricey! We always pack sandwich bags with snacks to munch on while waiting around the airport, as well as for the plane. We also bring refillable water bottles – just dump them out before going through security checkpoints and refill them once you get into the terminal.

Sarah at Dandelion Seeds

Especially since we have food allergies, we always stay somewhere with our own cooking facilities. With that in mind, one of our first stops at our destination is always the grocery store. Sexy? Notsomuch. Practical and helpful? Definitely. We make a list of our favorite meals from home and make the easiest ones while we’re traveling, so we can reserve the bulk of our time for adventures outside the kitchen. I come up with a meal plan and shopping list for the week and buy only what we need (it works our much better financially than impulse shopping and also creates less waste).

When you save on meals every day, you can splurge on the treats more often!

The more diligent I am about doing this, the more money we save, and the more impromptu ice cream we can have whenever it calls our name (like this lavender ice cream made with fresh lavender picked from the adjacent field in France–YUM)!

Next week’s family travel blog topic: Road Trip Tips.