Teaching Kids about Money on Vacation

Traveling with your children or grandchildren is an excellent way to create lasting memories with them. Having concentrated time together as a family, out of the routine at home, can also be an invaluable opportunity to teach kids lessons about life, including lessons on money. Whether it’s paying for a meal, taking a trip to the souvenir store or even an experience at the currency exchange, some of the activities done while traveling can become real-life teaching opportunities for parents.

Let kids help plan the vacation

When planning for a vacation, have children be a part of the process. Planning a vacation together can not only help them get excited about the trip but can help foster conversations around prioritizing activities and costs. For example, have older children use the internet to research different hotels and then help narrow down the choices based on location, cost and other features that are important to the family. For very young children, parents can give them a choice of different activities and explain the pros and cons of each.

Having a plan, and following through with the plan, will teach children that everyone can have fun while being responsible at the same time.

Teach money management on vacation

Giving your kids a vacation allowance will teach them that money is a finite resource. Kids will have to make choices about what they would like to spend money on, whether it’s a toy from the gift shop or an experience they’d like to have. Having an allowance might force children to ask themselves questions, such as do I really need another stuffed animal? Budgeting may also help improve the entire family experience by taking the attention away from getting “stuff” and focusing their attention on the experience itself.

Parents can also give children special chores to earn money prior to leaving for the trip to teach them the value of saving for a special occasion. Work hard, play hard, as they say!

International travel can open up the world of money

Crossing borders can be a wonderful way of exposing children to diverse cultures, languages and cuisine. International travel can also lend to teaching children about the different systems of money around the world. Kids can explore basics such as understanding the different currencies to more complex lessons around exchange rates and how they’re determined. Many times, digging deeper into the evolution of a country’s currency can uncover lessons about the history of the country itself.

The most important money lesson might be gratitude

“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude,” says best-selling author Brené Brown.1

Perhaps the most valuable lesson when families have the privilege of traveling is a lesson on gratitude. Parents can remind their children that it is a privilege to travel to different places that not everyone gets to visit. Traveling might even open children’s eyes to see other areas or cultures that are not as fortunate, materially, as they are. Parents can use those opportunities to talk about differences in the way people live and the resources they have access to.

When it comes to educating our children on the intricacies of money, traveling can be a real-world classroom for the whole family.


1 https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/858472-what-separates-privilege-from-entitlement-is-gratitude


Jenny Chung, CFP®, CIMA®, CDFA®

Jenny Chung, CFP®, CIMA®, CDFA®

Wealth Advisor

Jenny is a Wealth Advisor in our Itasca, IL, office. She uses her background as a teacher to help individuals and families feel comfortable with their investments and planning. She also works in the firm’s Divorce Practice Group, which helps divorcing individuals navigate the process and works closely with them afterward to help them build a full life.


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