Traveling with Kids This Summer? Here's How to Do It for Free

by  Susan B. Barnes | Jun 18, 2015

It’s summertime, and for many that means that big family vacations are just around the corner. And if you've done some traveling with kids, whether yours or not, you know the extra head count can add up. Thankfully, there are tons of travel perks for families this season, from cruises to Broadway shows to theme parks. Here, some higher-ticket items that makes traveling with the kids a much easier -- and even free.

Ride the Rails
Eurail Group's  Children Travel Free promotion is as good as it sounds: For every adult on an adult Eurail pass, two kids between the ages of 4 and 11 can travel for free. The deal is good for any of the 28 countries serviced by the 32 partners of Eurail group. And the adult doesn't have to be a parent, either; children can be paired with grandparents, aunts and uncles, older cousins and siblings, or just a friend who's also traveling in the group.

All the World’s a Stage
In London, Kids Week (August 1-31) is returning for its 18th year with more than 40 top London shows to choose from. Theatergoers who are 16 years and younger can score free tickets when accompanied by an adult paying full price. Younger kids may enjoy “Billy Elliot the Musical,” “Matilda,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” or “Disney’s The Lion King,” while older kids may want to see “Les Misérables,” “Wicked,” “Bend it Like Beckham,” or Green Day’s “American Idiot.” The website suggests shows for every age level -- and offers related special activities, too. Tickets went on sale this week, and can go quickly, so act fast. (New York City hosts a similar Kids Night on Broadway event during the winter.)

Get Your Thrills
Busch Gardens Tampa has a Kids Free Vacation deal in which one child age 9 and younger can get into the park free with a paying adult -- a savings of $80 per child. The offer is available through partner hotels both in Tampa and along the Gulf Coast between Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach.

Across the pond, Disneyland Paris has a similar offer: Kids under 7 will receive the same package as the paying adults they’re with, for no additional charge. That package includes hotel accommodations, breakfast, and entrance into both Disney Parks -- Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios.

Set Sail
Money-saving topped our list of reasons to take a multigenerational cruise, but let's break it down here with a few specifics while we're at it. Crystal Cruises lets a child who is 17 years old or younger to sail free as the third guest in cabin, on select all-inclusive sailings to destinations in Europe, Canada, the USA, the Caribbean, and South and Central America. The savings are even greater with 2-for-1 Cruise-Only fares, not to mention loads of complimentary onboard features like enrichment and fitness classes and gratuities. These specials pop up year-round, but for the summer, book by June 30 for best rates.

All of the itineraries offered by MSC Cruises are open to kids 11 and younger to sail free as the third/fourth guests in a stateroom with adults sailing with Anytime rates. The offer can even be combined with many of the cruise line’s promotional rates -- though you should double check individually before booking any trip. MSC sails throughout the Caribbean, Europe, South America, and South America.

If you're looking for more flexibility, Norwegian Cruise Line's got it. Its Friends & Family Sail Free program means that the third through eighth guests -- regardless of age -- in a stateroom can sail free or for 50 perfect off. (Of course, the number of guests have implications for what category stateroom you'll need to book.) More to love: As part of the Freestyle Choice Spectacular, book an oceanview or higher category stateroom and choose either free unlimited beverages, free unlimited specialty dining, free shore excursions, or free WiFi. Book a suite and you get all four.

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