5 Financial Mistakes Parents Should Avoid When Traveling With Kids

By Jim Hughes
April 28, 2022
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IStock - Tomwang112

Traveling, while enjoyable and fulfilling, takes a lot of expenses. It will take the use of strategic planning, different budgeting techniques, and financial confidence to make a limited budget work, especially when there are a lot of people traveling together such as with your family and with kids, at that!

When you’re traveling with kids, the game changes and adjustments have to be done. Before making that next big trip, parents and guardians should consider several strategies so that their hard earned bucks are also well spent for them and their kids, ranging from finding affordable flights to bringing their own forms of entertainment.

One efficient strategy is by “reverse engineering” your finances (or knowing the things that can potentially go wrong, instead of the ones that you should do right). That said, below are some of the financial mistakes to be avoided when families travel with kids. We hope that this guide prevents parents (like us) from making the same mishaps.

1. Not Being Prepared for Medical Emergencies

Traveling is best done when precautions are in place. The first step in being prepared for medical emergencies is having travel health insurance.

Getting you and your family covered will save you the trouble of paying for emergency medical expenses when traveling. Depending on the plan the family has, the cost will either be reimbursed within the plan limits or covered altogether regardless of injury or illness.

Unfortunately, not many families come prepared with this, not even the parents themselves. It doesn't take a while to be acquainted with options, though, be it a comprehensive travel insurance plan that covers several problems (including baggage loss, trip delay, and trip cancellation), or a standalone medical plan limited to dental and emergency medical fees only.

The bigger mistake is opting out of the travel insurance fee and then ending up spending more let alone on a different country when faced with medical expenses.

2. Not Prioritizing Convenience Over Ticket Price

While flights can be as affordable as they can go, it is still best to be wise when choosing cheap ones but one that can compromise convenience. After all, going through delays and panicking one's way into making the connecting flight, with jet lagged children, toddler gear, and several pieces of luggage, is not an ideal experience when traveling, even if it allows youto save a little bit.

For instance, don’t fall prey to a lap arrangement. It is recommended to buy a ticket for your child in order to prevent breakdowns and also have someone on your lap for an extended period of time. Parents, you will need all that muscle strength while traveling. Save your energy while in transportation.

Also, isn't giving your family a bit of fun, convenience, and comfort a good thing to aspire for while traveling? If one can do this within a good budget without overspending, then it should be done.

3. Not Having Essential Items

It is better to bring your children's essential needs, such as diapers and clothes, instead of buying them at the travel destination. After all, the availability of your children's needs, especially in terms of brand, may not always be around in certain countries.

Securing these needs will save the unnecessary expense of buying something other than souvenirs and the experiences that should make the trip, not new baby clothes, prescription medicine, or diapers.

A way to ensure doing this is to have firstaid kits and packing cubes. A firstaid kit and having it onboard is a nonnegotiable, and it should include items such as medicine for allergies, stomach ache, cold, flu, motion sickness, fever, and rehydration, as well as antiitch cream, thermometer, and bandages.

Packing cubes, on the other hand, are fabric containers with zips. These can be packed with the basic clothes needed, including socks, as well one for dirty laundry and some detergent in case clothes need to be washed at the hotel.

Imagine all the savings by dodging all those unnecessary expenses!

4. Not Bringing Enough Entertainment for Children

It is a must to engage children of all ages when traveling. Otherwise, parents will find themselves with unnecessary expenditures on snacks, toys, and even inflight WiFi. It is best to pack some activity sheets, portable art materials, and even some books for the children to carry on their bags themselves. Be strategic when picking toys that won't be too missed in case they are damaged or lost.

Make room for calming downtime activities too, so that the children can recharge and avoid having to ask for other things that are not needed.

5. Not Planning Properly

Lastly, not planning properly for almost everything in the trip is a sure ticket to disaster. There are so many decisions to make. Lodging, for instance, is crucial for comfort, convenienceand affordability. Will it be better for you to book a hotel room? Or should you choose a spacious rental with kitchen access instead?

More importantly, what are the activities you have planned each day? It would be best to keep things scheduled so you can avoid unexpected expenses and decision paralysis.

Other Tips to Consider When Traveling With Kids

Finally, don’t alienate your kids from the planning process. You’ll be surprised by how insightful their opinions are. Just remember that when it comes to choosing activities, your interests should come first, with the destinations as a second priority.

Don’t forget to account for younger children as well. For example, going to a theme park with really young kids might not be the best idea since they will have limited ride options. Cruises, on the other hand, have a variety of activities for school age and teenage children. Family friendly cruise lines have added perks, too.

Lastly, parents and seasoned travelers alike advise that less is really more. If the parents try to cram too much in a day, the trip might end up as a chore and not as an enjoyable way to spend time with the family.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, how much you wish to spend on your family travels is still up to you. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to strike a balance between cost effectiveness and overall, the fun, happy times that you signed up for.

Safe travels!

Jim Hughes is a freelance writer based in Sheridan, WY. Jim has significant experience covering financial and business
topics. He’s been a financial advisor and also provided consulting and advice. At the moment he is the Director of Content at

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