Large families are often at a disadvantage when traveling; family vacation packages are often designed for compact families of four and hotel rooms have maximum occupancy limitations that can make 6 kids under 12 plus their parents and a grandparent a real challenge!
The following tips can help large families cut costs while traveling for fun or out of necessity, such as a family emergency.
Tip # 1 Be Overly Friendly. Face it, large families scare people. Walking into a hotel or restaurant with a slew of little ones under foot can make the staff instantly defensive. You need to make friends immediately with the staff. Tip well, smile, be polite, teach your kids to do the same. These people can help you immensely…if they like you.
Tip #2 Shop like a Native. Go to the local grocery stores. Steer clear of gift shops. If you don’t normally go into gift shops with your children, restrain yourself from the temptation of overpriced aisles of breakables. Grocery stores, discount shops, even the dollar store will be just fine. You will know your way around and can get in and out without too much hassle.
Tip #3 Ask for Deals. This works best if you followed tip #1 successfully. Ask the staff if they have complimentary items they could give you, freebies. Extra packs of coffee, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, anything to help you out. Prices are negotiable. The rates on a hotel room fluctuates throughout the year, throughout the week even.
Tip #4 Stock your Hotel Room. Fill it snacks from the grocery store; familiar favorites and a few fun surprises. I like to fill the hotel room freezer with novelty frozen treats that I wouldn’t normally have on hand at home. Having extra beverages on hand saves you the outrageous prices of hotel vending machines or drinks from their shops. It is worth it to purchase drinks the kids love, but don’t get often. You get to save money and they are thrilled.
Tip #5 Eat In. Going back to the room for lunch or dinner can be a huge money saver. If you must go out, make it for breakfast or lunch rather than dinner if possible. This also avoids “bothering” children-phobic patrons. Choose a hotel with free breakfast buffet for an even bigger savings.
Tip #6 Read the Local Paper. Check for free family events. Outdoor concerts, parks, festivals are often only locally advertised. Better yet, ask on Facebook, or other social networking site if anyone knows of fun events upcoming in the area of the country you will be traveling to. You may be surprised at the responses.
Tip #7 Hand Over the Reigns. Children as young as 9 or so can help plan a portion of the family vacation. Give them a particular day and a strict budget which has to cover food, tickets and anything extra. See what they come up with, it’s bound to be fun!
Tip #8 Team Up. Consider vacationing with another large family. Sounds crazy, but an even bigger group has it’s benefits. Take advantage of group discounts at vacation destinations and tag team the kids.
Tip #9 Call Ahead. Request discount books, maps, and coupons from the Chamber of Commerce to be mailed to your home. While you are on the phone, specifically ask if there are any specials or large family friendly hotels nearby, Check Six Suitcases Travel website for hotels that can accommodate 8 or more people.
Tip #10 Relax. The truth is, if you have a lot of young children and are attempting to vacation away from home, much of the day to day will be much the same. Consider sleeping at home and taking day trips. Save up for a “just the two of you” trip instead!
Personal Experience- mom, foster mom and traveler
Six Suitcases Travel-http://www.sixsuitcasetravel.com./index.html
USA Travel Tips http://traveltips.usatoday.com/large-family-vacations-15555.html