If you aren't careful, the cost of souvenirs can really add up when you take a vacation. Here are a few ways that we keep souvenirs from ruining our travel budget.
First, make a budget! Discuss your budget with your children before you leave. This may mean that you have no money set aside for trinkets and that they must buy their own or that you have a dollar amount per child, or per attraction. No matter what your budget, explaining it to your children beforehand will minimize meltdowns as you are exiting the museum or amusement park.
Know your weaknesses and plan for them! My weakness is books, so I am at greater danger in a museum bookstore than I am at Disneyland. I can tell my children that I will not buy any trinkets at Disneyland and have no problem sticking to it. But I will cave if a child exclaims in delight, “Oh look, a biography on Ethan Allen. I've always wanted to read more about him and the Green Mountain Boys”. My kids know I will cave on books, my husband knows it, and it has been much easier since I finally acknowledged it and set aside some money for “must have” books we discover on vacation.
Purchase “souvenirs” in advance. To say my oldest son loved dinosaurs would be an understatement. We took him took him to all the major dinosaur collections in the United States and every single gift shop sold Carnegie Collection Dinosaurs. It didn't take me long to figure out that he would want to add one or two to his collection and it would cost me a pretty penny to do so. Instead of paying full price at the gift shop I started buying the toy dinosaurs in advance when I found them on sale. This also helped to make it easier to leave a museum since I could tell him I had a surprise waiting in the car.
Explore options for non-consumer “souvenirs”. When we went to San Diego, I went through my older kids' old toys and found appropriate “souvenirs” to give to my youngest child on the trip. That was so successful, that I rummaged through the old toys again before our trip to Los Angeles. This gives new life to old toys at a time when they will be most appreciated. If you don't have your own supply of old toys, you can always visit a thrift store to pick some up at a fraction of their original cost.
Look for discounts. Yesterday, I shared tips for saving money on museum entrance fees. One of the ways I do save is to buy a membership to the museums we frequently visit and the memberships usually include a 10 – 20% discount in the gift shop. Which is nice if you are a sucker for educational books.
How do you save money on souvenirs?
This post has been linked to Frugal Friday.