There are some easy ways to save money on fun day trips with your family. You just need to take the time to plan ahead.
Why worry about a budget?
Having five kids is fabulous, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
But, I will say it isn’t easy on the budget. Especially when it comes to traveling and entertainment.
So, I wanted to share with you some of my family’s strategies for having fun on a limited budget. I hope you find these tips helpful so you can plan your next outing.
Here is how we save money on fun day trips.
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Plan ahead for fun day trips
Part 1- the Zoo!
1. Find out what is permitted
I checked the NC Zoo website and learned it is okay to bring in bottles of non-alcoholic beverages. So, each person in our family chose a water bottle and filled it before leaving the house. This saved us a lot of money!
With seven people in the family, drinks alone can bust the budget. Drinks typically run around four dollars each. We saved roughly $56 dollars by drinking water all day. There are plenty of refill stations throughout the zoo.
2. Create a travel plan
As much as our family would enjoy spending the weekend in North Carolina, it isn’t something we could do right now. We live in Virginia. So, this was about a 2-hour drive each way. By planning fun day trips, we save on lodging, food and other expenses.
All of these cost more for larger families. Most hotels require we have two rooms because they don’t allow seven in one room. Cha-ching! More money…
As part of your travel plan, check to see where you can eat along the way. Look for something they like, that will fill their bellies. Now, they won’t need food every 5-minutes at the zoo.
3. Focus on the fun
Focus on the fun things to see and do at the zoo. The animals are so amazing! We love all of the animals, but especially the seals, giraffes, gorillas, and chimpanzees.
Honestly, we could sit and watch the chimpanzees fighting and playing all day!
But, I also love just seeing my kids enjoying life around them. My youngest searches intently for a lizard. My oldest tries to turn the honeybee exhibit into a petting zoo.
I enjoy seeing them interact with the world around them. Rather than just playing video games.
4. Don’t focus on the “stuff” (that costs money)
I think my kids are pretty typical. We go to the zoo. They are having a great time. They see the awesomely amazing ropes course and want a go at it.
Nope, sorry! That is $12 per person and not in my budget. When saving money on fun day trips, feel free to say “no”.
My kids can do a ropes course another day.
I want this day to be about the animals and the great time. We will have other fun day trips, and one of those may be to a ropes course.
5. Your kids don’t need another stuffed animal
I don’t enjoy taking my kids to gift shops. They always want another stuffed animal. Yes, a stuffed baboon may help you remember the zoo.
But, so will pictures. And, they are free!
In case you are wondering… I am not a total meanie!
There are times we let our kids buy things from gift shops. Sometimes we will pay, sometimes they have to use their own money.
But, I don’t want them to think it is always included. We save money on fun day trips because we focus on the fun, not the stuff.
6. Save money on meals
We ate a BIG breakfast right before getting to the zoo.
So, we really didn’t need to spend much money on food. Around 1:00, our kids started to have rumblin’ tummies so we got a cheese pizza for $20 and everyone had a slice.
This was enough to keep them from getting “hangry” for the rest of our time at the NC Zoo. And, we didn’t buy drinks because we all had our water bottles.
You know, I will give the North Carolina Zoo credit for great food though. I stopped in at Junction Springs Cafe to check out their selection. They had huge deli-club sandwiches on ciabatta bread with chips or fries. It did cost around $8, but it was big and looked delicious. Also, the chicken tenders and other food looked oversized so the price seemed reasonable.
Finally, we did “splurge” on a treat on the way out. Each of the kids grabbed something from Settler’s Ridge Snack Bar. It was a great way to end the day!
7. Get the most “bang” for your buck!
For our family of seven, the cost to get into the zoo is $97. But, if we join the NC Zoo Society, it is a much better deal! It would cost our family $84 for the one-year membership. This allows family members to get into the NC Zoo free for one year.
For less than one visit, our family can go to the NC Zoo for a year! Fantastic Deal!!
8. Talk to someone at the zoo for recommendations
The representative from the NC Zoo gave us some wonderful tips. She recommends the giraffe feeding for $2 each as a special memory-maker and picture opportunity.
The NC Zoo also sells a Fun Pass which provides unlimited access to the Dino Bus, Paddle Boats, 4-D Theatre and Carousel for the day of your visit. This is a really good deal.
We chose to have our children enjoy the Desert Wind Simulator for $2.
Also, there are picnic facilities just outside the park if you want to pack a lunch. You could easily pop out for lunch between your North America and Africa visits.
Oh, that’s another BIG plus for the North Carolina Zoo. They have free parking, including free shuttle service to the zoo and between sections of the zoo.
So, visit the NC Zoo! All of this fun, and these sweet animals are waiting for you!
I hope you have learned how you can save money on fun day trips through our North Carolina Zoo experience.
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What are some of your favorite day trips? Comment below and share your ideas with other families!