How To Go Broke Traveling With Small Children

by Samantha Rodman
Originally Published: 

Got some extra dough burning a hole in your pocket? Time to pack up the fam and take a vacation; there’s no better way to go from rich to poor than traveling with small children!

1. Make sure you go somewhere with lots of designated kids activities. Activities specifically designed to appeal to children are really expensive, e.g. any amusement or water park. Insider tip: Make sure you are completely honest about all of your children’s ages. Only money hoarding Scrooges try to get an under-three discount for a child whose third birthday was last week!

2. Call ahead to be sure these meccas of excitement do not allow you to bring any food or drink of your own onto the premises. Extra points if they physically check bags to be sure you’re not smuggling anything in. Stay long enough that you have to purchase at least 2 meals and 2 snacks for each family member (45 minutes should do nicely). Remember: If you hide even a granola bar for yourself in your purse, you’re cheating the system and your kids will silently observe you and end up becoming criminals in later life.

3. If you stay at a hotel, make sure you are right on the beach. What price can you put on convenience? In reality, this coup will save you about negative 20 minutes, because it takes small kids approximately 40 minutes to walk 50 feet to the beach and 20 minutes to be loaded into a car and driven there.

4. Consult your husband about what to bring. Listen respectfully every time he tells you that you’re overpacking and to just chill out. Assiduously remove each and every item that he says you don’t need. This way you can be sure to buy extra sunscreen, infant Tylenol, antacid, bandaids, beach toys, and sweatshirts for the children at a 500% markup in the hotel lobby when you have 15 of each of those things sitting at home. Extra points for re-purchasing items you have at home because you bought them during the last vacation.

5. Only go places that have gift shops. Make sure your kids see the gift shop when both they and you are particularly hungry, tired, and hot. The odds you can resist their demands at this point are close to zero, so thankfully you have another way to drop some cash.

6. Go somewhere with special kids’ meals. It does not matter that all three of your kids together weigh less than 80 pounds. It does not matter that they only eat one bite of chicken and one carrot each during dinner normally. They cannot possibly be entreated to just have some of your food, even if you order something they would usually want. Instead, to fully embrace the spirit of massive financial waste, spend at least $8.99 plus tax and tip for every “kid’s meal” for every kid, every goddamn day of your vacation. No doggie bags either because it’s vacation and you don’t want to be a real buzzkill. When the children eat nothing on their plates except the fries, benevolently laugh and dab the grease off their faces with another $10 bill.

7. Get a vacation sitter. For this luxury, an agency can hook you up with an elderly non-English speaker who puts your 5 month old down for nap in a pack and play that she filled with soft pillows because “she would be more comfortable.” This happened to “my friend.” This one really kills two birds with one stone because you also get to throw out cash on a dinner and some drinks that you are too consumed with anxiety to enjoy, at jacked-up prices befitting a vacation destination. Expert level: prior to vacation, buy a new outfit and get a mani/pedi in anticipation of this dinner out with your husband.

8. Get two connecting rooms so you can spread out and the kids can nap and sleep easier. It will be a real knee-slapper when the kids refuse to sleep at all and you all end up in one room with your suitcases in the other for the majority of the time. But, hey, it’s only money!

9. Go on a cruise. Not only are you completely trapped on the ocean with your children for days straight with no respite (I am trembling even typing that) but you get to pay hand over fist for the privilege. Hopefully, you can spend some more money out of pocket for the top level psychiatrist you’ll need to prescribe you Xanax after you dock, more for the psychologist to treat your Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

10. If you still for some strange reason have a positive balance in your bank account, you have been slacking on the job. Stay focused, it is still within your power to drain every cent you have. You know what you have to do. One word, at a thousand bucks per syllable: Disney.

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