Parenting: Family trips on a budget

Friday, March 09, 2012
Billy and Micah Buckman in Times Square, New York

Billy and Micah Buckman in Times Square, New York

Over President's Day Weekend, my husband and I took our sons Billy and Micah to New York. We've been there before, and the boys have seen many of the traditional tourist attractions, including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Museum of Natural History and the Empire State Building. This time we were looking for some other places to visit and of course, we wanted to make the trip economical.

We stayed at a hotel right in the heart of Times Square, which was free, because we paid for it using credit card reward points. Right next to the hotel was a little take-out restaurant with some upstairs seating where we could get sandwiches and breakfast, at prices far below New York norms.

I searched a site called Goldstar, which offers half-price tickets to find some activities for our trip. I did a "Saving with 6abc" story about Goldstar, when they started offering similar deals here in Philadelphia. Among the deals they offered - half-price tickets for a walking tour of Chinatown and Little Italy.

At first, the guys balked at the thought of walking a lot, but as it turned out, the tour was really interesting, and there was lots of yummy food-tasting, so it was both an activity and a great lunch! We also got half-price tickets for an interactive dinner-theater show called "Murdered by the Mob," which was a lot fun. The audience is part of a Mob Family that gathers to pay tribute to a new leader, when some mysterious murders occur. We also visited the Museum of Modern Art where kids are admitted free, and checked out the vintage television shows at the Paley Center.

We also wandered around Times Square, people-watching and looking at the many stores.

It was great family time and we really did manage to keep to a reasonable budget. I know it's hard to find time and economic resources to take family vacations, but there are plenty of great places to visit that don't require a plane trip, or even an overnight stay. A lot of activities are free or discounted, if you know where to look.

Erin Gifford is a blogger with a site called, where she shares all sorts of money-saving tips for kid-friendly vacations. She suggests following hotels and airlines on Twitter to get access to exclusive deals, searching online for free kids' activities, bringing your own snacks, checking airfares on, and getting entertainment or coupon books for your destination city.

Remember, you don't have to have every minute of the trip booked. Just wandering around a new place with your kids and making discoveries together can be a great way to make family memories.

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