When ever people hear that we take our kids with us when we travel, they think we’re crazy. The first comment we get is usually that they are too young to remember, so why bother. The next comment is always about the high cost of travel. Yes, traveling with kids can be pricey. I wouldn’t consider our family to be budget travelers, but we are trying to teach our kids about travel budgets and how to stick to them.
Playing "Farmers Market" with my son has encouraged conversations about money and budgets.
Teaching Kids about Money
I thought my 3.5-year-old was too young to know much about money. That is until we were playing "Farmers Market" and he tried to charge me $40 for an orange. At that moment, I realized that he understood the concept of paying for things, just not how much things should cost.
This gave me the perfect opportunity to talk to my son about money through pretend play. We have a cool cash register from Learning Resources (keep reading to learn more) that has kept my son intrigued about money. He recognizes most numbers, so we've been counting out how much money is in the cash register and how much money he has to "buy" produce at our Farmers Market.
My son is laughing because I told him his prices were outrageous and I was going to shop elsewhere if he didn’t negotiate with me!
He always comes with me to our local market and helps me shop for food. I’ve been pointing out to him the current prices of fruit and vegetables (oranges are currently $1/lb at our local market, not $40 like my son’s outrageously priced booth.) It’s opened up a lot of discussion about why certain foods cost more and I like to show him why we try to buy local produce.
These conversations translate into travel budgets seamlessly. When we were in Paris this past Spring, we were ordering freshly squeezed orange juice at every cafe. We happened to head to Monoprix to pick up items to pack home and we discovered that we could buy freshly squeezed orange juice in bulk for a fraction of the cost. We went nuts. Then, we had to explain to our son why we were going bonkers over orange juice in the middle of the store. A big line item in our travel budgets is usually food.
My son knows that he has an incredible opportunity to get to travel often. One of the most important lessons he can learn through our family travel is how he can travel frugally on his own (or with friends) in the future. The conversations about travel budgets start now, since he’s picking up on everything we do.
We've been talking a lot about money through imaginative play.
5 Tips for Travel Budgets for Kids
- Invite them to help plan the trip. Hands-on experiences are the best way to learn. Let your child sit with you as you scour the Internet for the best travel deals. Be upfront about how much money you are planning to spend and see what destinations fit in your budget. A good conversation will include the location, attractions/activities and accommodation options.
- Take them grocery shopping. Eating breakfast in your accommodations is a great way to save money while traveling. Shop with your child and let them help pick out breakfast and snack options. For extra fun, check out your room service menu to see how much you saved!
- Use public transportation. Involve your child while planning your itinerary. You can talk about all the fun places you want to see and then figure out the cheapest way to see them. Riding on public transit is often the highlight of the trip for my son and one of the cheapest touristy thing we do.
- Let them order for themselves at restaurants. Most restaurants offer kids meals that include drinks, entree and dessert. If your child doesn’t want that food, they can always check out the side dishes available on the main menu. For the same price, they might find food they’d rather eat. It’s a great way for them to see how far their dollar can go. And as kids get older, you can give them a daily stipend for food and incidentals.
- Set a travel budget for souvenirs. My husband always says, “I haven’t met a gift shop I didn’t like.” Our son takes after him. We’re working on giving him a set dollar amount to spend on souvenirs when we travel. We also talk to him about not needing to get a souvenir everywhere we go. We haven’t started doing an allowance with our son yet. When we do, we’ll probably have him contribute a portion of his allowance toward souvenirs.
This cash register was the perfect addition to my son's make believe Farmers Market booth.
Pretend & Play® Calculator Cash Register
This award-winning Pretend & Play® Calculator Cash Register is the perfect addition to any pretend store! It encourages beginning math and calculator skills while providing lots of opportunities for imaginative play. Additionally, it features a built-in solar calculator that helps familiarize children with the use of a calculator. They’ll also learn currency denomination and have fun handling life-size money. Large buttons on the keypad are easy for little hands to press and the cash drawer makes a “cha-ching” sound when it opens.
Product Features + Benefits
- Includes: Solar powered cash register, 30 actual-size pretend bills, 40 plastic coins, 1 pretend credit card, and Activity guide.
- Self-Help- Students can learn currency denominations and have fun handling life-size money. The cash register can assist students in money management skills, when making a purchase.
- Basic Concepts- Role play real-life scenarios such as waiting in line, paying for a purchase, and interacting with the cashier.
- Math- The calculator-like functions familiarize students with adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing.
Learning Resources provided product for review purposes. All opinions are my own.