3 Hidden Ways Having Kids Makes Travel More Expensive

It’s hardly a secret that having kids is an expensive prospect. And traveling with kids can be even more expensive.

But the reason for that isn’t just because you’re paying for extra people. Here are a few less obvious reasons why traveling with children costs more than traveling solo or as a couple.

1. You’re basically forced to travel at the most expensive times

Some of the most expensive times of the year to travel are during school spring and winter break, and during the summer. But if you have school-aged kids, you’re tethered to those breaks, which means you’re basically forced to pay extra to travel.

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Of course, you could opt to pull your children out of school and travel at a less popular time. But then you have to deal with makeup work, and you also risk incurring the wrath of their teachers.

It’s one thing to pull a first-grader out of school for a week and catch them up on a few basic math lessons. But try pulling an honors high school junior out of calculus for a week. Chances are, you’re not in a position to help them make up that advanced work, which means they’re stuck having to scramble and catch up.

2. You’ll pay more for flights if you want to be seated together

When you’re traveling with a fellow adult, it’s nice to be seated together. But if that’s not in the cards, you can probably cope — especially if it means being able to purchase a lower-cost ticket and save money.

As a parent, though, you don’t easily get that option because buying the most affordable airline fare often means not getting to choose your own seat. And if you have young kids, you can’t afford to be separated from them. You also, unfortunately, can’t rely on the kindness of strangers to switch seats (though to be fair, if you didn’t pony up for a seat choice, that really shouldn’t be anyone else’s problem but yours).

3. You can’t take advantage of money-saving layovers as easily

Sometimes, opting for a nonstop flight will get you to your destination faster, but at a higher cost. As a parent, though, you may not be able to save money by booking multiple flight legs because your kids might lose it during a three-hour layover.

Also, with a layover, you have to factor in the cost of feeding an entire family at the airport, where basically any quick meal you buy is guaranteed to be overpriced. That’s very different from being a pair of adults with a layover, or a solo traveler who’s content to bust out a protein bar for lunch and call it a day.

How to make traveling with kids less expensive

Traveling with children is clearly complicated — not to mention costly. But there are steps you can take to save, including:

  • Choose less popular destinations if you’re traveling during school breaks — for example, a less well-known state park instead of a national park.
  • Book a vacation rental instead of a hotel so you’re not forced to splurge on so many restaurant meals.
  • Book your flights in advance so you have more airfare choices.
  • Use a travel rewards credit card that comes with money-saving perks like free checked bags.
  • Drive to your destination instead of flying when feasible.

It’s not easy to afford kids, or to afford to take them places. But if you’re strategic in booking your plans, you can save some money in the process.

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