Nick Foy, CFP®
Just about everybody we meet with talks about travel being one of their most important financial goals; the ability to see and share a journey with loved ones is high on the priority list for most of our clients.
I like to include travel expenses in just about every client’s financial plan, as both an acknowledgement and a reminder that experiences are more valuable than things.
My kids are now 7 and 4 ½, and they’ve already been all over the U.S., and have traveled internationally to Europe and Africa. We’ve made travel a priority, and they’re starting to get old enough to appreciate it (although my daughter claimed her favorite part of our spring break trip to Italy was the “yummy Cheerios” [Froot Loops] at the airport hotel in Boston).
Here are some tips to make your journeys as memorable as possible:
- Stay locally. During our spring break Italian vacation, the first leg of our journey was in Rome. We opted for an Airbnb in a great location, not far from Trevi Fountain. This allowed us to live a little more like a modern Roman. We visited the coffee shop and bakery downstairs for our morning shot of espresso, and were within walking distance of most of Rome’s best sights, and plenty of great restaurants.
We might have been able to stay in a nearby hotel, but we find that hotels are often overpriced, especially when we spend the entire day out and about. We tend not to take advantage of the amenities that hotels offer when experiencing a different city.
After Rome, we rented a car and drove down to the Amalfi Coast to see different part of the country, and rented a second Airbnb there.
- Be flexible with your flights. Don’t lock yourself into a single point of origin for your journey. We saved thousands of dollars by buying two tickets: one from Charlotte to Boston, and a second from Boston to Rome. Google Flights makes it easy to compare different origins and different destinations.
It just so happens that it’s really expensive to get to Europe (and lots of places) from Charlotte, thanks to American Air’s stranglehold on our airport. But it’s cheap to get to Boston or New York, and generally cheap to fly to Europe from those cities. It often doesn’t even add any time to your journey, and is sometimes faster than purchasing a single ticket from Charlotte.
- Don’t (always) go to Disney. My wife and I have an aversion to crowds. And lines. And heat. And exorbitant expenses. So, Disney isn’t really our cup of tea. We took the kids to Disneyland a couple of years ago, and spent a day there, and we think we’re good for awhile. Plenty of people spend days there, or at Disneyland East in Orlando, every year, and we think that’s great, but it’s not for us.
Whenever we get back from seeing a different part of the world with our kids, we feel like we got more value than we would have if we had spent the time at Disney, and a week in Europe probably costs less than a week at Disney.
Plus, it’s hard to show your kids the world from inside of a theme park. Venture out and interact with people from different cultures in their environment.
- Train your kids to travel well. Traveling with kids can be overwhelming for many, but it doesn’t have to be. We found kids can fly long distances (with the aid of a tablet) at around 3 ½ years old. Before that, it’s not easy to keep their attention, but once they hit that age it becomes much less challenging. We also gave them their own suitcases so they can haul their own luggage.
Exposing them to new cultures might mean new foods, also. They’ll eat when they’re hungry, so let them try something other than chicken fingers and mac and cheese.
What has your experience been traveling with kids? Good? Bad? Otherwise? Feel free to comment below.