The outdoor lifestyle can be expensive. Good quality gear doesn’t come cheap and if you love traveling to experience new places for your adventures those bills can ad up – even for small families.
Jen Kelly has four kids- two sets of twins six and under! (You thought you were busy??) Jen and her husband strongly believe in the importance of getting out there and raising the kids in adventure and they’ve found a couple of ways to make it happen within a reasonable budget. Here’s Jen….
Being a family of six, it can often be challenging to provide an adventurous childhood for our kids, while on a budget.
Of course, there are tons of “free” activities we pursue and LOVE. Hiking helps create a love of the outdoors and feeds our adventurous spirit while not breaking the bank. But we like to do more than just a local hike. So we get creative in how we plan more expensive endeavors.
Here are my top 3 tips to adventure on a budget:
Growing up, my parents would pile our family of six, into the minivan and make the 17 hour drive from suburban NYC to our grandparent’s house outside of Tampa. Snacks were packed, batteries bought for our Walkman and we each had a couple of books in our backpacks. I remember those trips, at the time as torturous, but look back so fondly of the memories we made stopping at South of the Border, ganging up on one another (no one was safe!) and signing Billy Joel and Van Morrison with our father. I promised myself that I would NEVER do that to my children…
Well, much like most of the “when I’m a parent” promises I made, road trips have been a lifesaver for our family of six in regards to cutting costs on trips and here we are, planning our 3rd long distance road trip.
It has definitely gotten MUCH easier to road trip, with the invention of iPads and DVD players in the car. However the routine of our road trips, packing snacks, sandwiches, coloring books, planning pit stops, and the moments I so clearly remember, that I now consider the most sacred from my own childhood have pretty much remained the same. On top of the memories being made, the money we save on flights, allows us to enjoy our end destination a little more.
One thing we were pretty adamant about when moving to Colorado was taking advantage of all the winter sports at our disposal. We imagined, our kiddos learning to snowboard on world-class mountains while we had a few hours to get in some of our own amazing runs. As I’m sure many of you know, skiing and snowboarding, is not an inexpensive endeavor and we joked we’d most likely need a sponsor to get gear for four kids.
After pricing out some new gear, we quickly learned our best route was to buy used. It honestly was the only way to keep it semi-affordable.
Because winter sports are a huge deal here, there are so many resources for buying used. Tag sales, community trade sites on social media, swapping with neighbors who have outgrown their boards or boots, trade in programs through local retailers. In the end, we did still end up paying a good chunk out of pocket BUT it remained within our planned budget.
Take Advantage of Local Programs:
Most likely, if you are in a community that fosters certain sports or adventures, there are programs in place that allow children to participate in these activities for a small cost or even for free. Mostly, it’s to allow the parents to keep participating and spend money at the establishment but it’s also to “hook” future customers.
For us, the EPIC pass was critical in us being able to be on the mountain as much as we were this winter. Under the age of 5, in CO, kids can ski/snowboard an unlimited amount of times at a handful of participating resorts. Check out the programs in your area – you’ll likely find something that gives you a great discount.
We have a big family and our adventures do take planning and a lot of logistic and financial creativity. But there is nothing more important for us. We have made the commitment to pursue these activities with our children.
We strongly believe that with these experiences we are fostering a love of nature, a love of adventure and the outdoors that will be with them forever. And this, including the love of travel, learning about different cultures, and the memories we’re creating with our children doesn’t really have a price tag!