5 Things To Do With Your Kids On The Cheap No Matter Where You Live

Here are 5 ideas for spending time with the kids on the cheap:

  1. The Local Park –Kids of all ages (including 29, Wink, Wink!) love to swing and play on the monkey bars. The park is a timeless outing! Depending on where you live it is either free or very cheap. It is a fun way to pass the afternoon. I love to bring a picnic & plenty of drinks to make it a whole day event.
  2. Historic Site – Be it a small town or a big city something important happened within a short drive. Everywhere we have lived we have found cool historical sites. Some are locally important but many are important on a state or country level. Many sites are free or under $5 to visit. The best way to approach a historical outing is to learn a few key points before visiting. It is very hard for a child or even an adult to get excited about seeing the childhood home of a President if they do not know who they are.
  3. Art!- Be it a museum, a local exhibit, or a public piece, art is just plain cool. Art can spark all kinds of questions and interesting conversations with your family. The only rule to this is to make sure the place allows children (Many art galleries allow kids during the daytime.) and that the art is child appropriate. I once took my kids to the Contemporary Photography Museum in Chicago. The place was great and Free! The only issue was a large photo collection depicting murder that was a little disturbing. Consider a walk through or ask the front desk if you are concerned of what your children may see.
  4. The Public Library- Any of you that follow my writing know how much I love a good library! We have been to so many! Over the years we have enjoyed train tables, block sets, car tracks, puppet theaters, toys, computer games, board games, puzzles, story times, classes (from Origami to sea creatures including a real penguin), a petting zoo, magicians, belly dancers, contests, ghost stories, and a butterfly release, not to mention quite a few great books.
  5. The Bakery- If you are in a small town there is likely only one known simply as “The Bakery” and everyone I have ever gotten the joy of visiting was amazing! If you are in the ‘burbs or the city then there are many but I’m betting you have a favorite. Take your kids in for a cookie or donut. Sit down with them and listen to them talk. This time with them is priceless. They will be grown before you know it and you will look back on this time as a treasured memory.

Happy Birthday Ivy!!

Today my oldest is 11 years old! Wow, kids grow up way too fast! As part of her present she gets to plan a trip for the first time. While she has been many places, she has never planned a trip all on her own. It is just a day trip or single overnight at most. It can be anything she wants to do. It has to be within 75 miles of our current place and she has a budget of $200 which includes meals. It must be done on a Friday or Saturday and she cannot miss school to go. She has to do all of the planning. She must pick out the route on a road map, plan where we are going, find out how much admission is to the place or places she picks, plan meals (either packing or where we are going), and making sure we have any needed items or equipment (i.e. water bottles for outdoors, swimsuits, proper clothing). I am very curious to see what she comes up with. Ivy has varied interests from art and history to nature and animals. We could literally end up just about anywhere!

Tips For Traveling With Children

  1. Bring a bike lock for the stroller. They are not welcome in many restaurants and some shops. Best to be prepared.
  2. Check to make sure that restaurants are kid friendly before you visit. If there are no high chairs it is best to know up-front. Also kids and long lines do not mix. Make reservations for places you want to visit that have long wait times whenever possible.
  3. Do not over plan! You need a plan with kids but it must have additional time in it for the inevitable issues that come up when traveling with kids.
  4. Be flexible! (We once went to a restaurant for dinner only to find that they closed at 4pm! We had 2 hungry, cranky kids and we were 6 hours from home! We walked up the block to the first place that looked kid friendly. It turned into one of our favorite places.)
  5. Pack their “special” item. It is a common tip to bring a small child’s lovey or blanket but nobody ever mentions the importance of bringing something for older kids. Your tweens and teens need their favorite items to feel secure on the road. Don’t forget their Ipod or DS! You want them to be comfortable as well.
  6. Many hotels have crib rentals. It is often not only cheaper but more comforting for your child to bring a pack & play from home. I must stress this is only an option for car trips. Do not try to bring one in a plane!
  7. Pack a spare. Bring a spare of all basics when kids are involved. Spare outfit, shoes (we once lost a shoe while strolling around), socks, toothbrush (new in the pack for whoever loses theirs along the way), and a memory card for the parents! Nothing like a full memory card to make you mad!
  8. Do not let your kids eat drastically differently than they would at home. If you do not normally allow junk food and sweets than you must limit them when on vacation as well. Kids have sensitive little tummies (as do most adults!). When you change their diet to all fast food or way more sweets a day; you are asking for trouble! Nobody has a good time when part of the family does not feel well.
  9. Consider how active your family is. I have no problem with active trips! We are a very active family. That being said: If your family or even one member of your family is inactive or very out of shape then taking them on a highly active trip may indeed be too much for them. Think of the whole group when picking out what to do. Also consider a child’s abilities. Even children can go hiking as long as you pick an appropiate place to take them.
  10.  Learn about the history or culture of a place before visiting. This helps to turn the trip into a learning experience like no other. Make sure to see one historical or cultural point that goes with what you have learned.