Paula's ingenious travel money hack works for any vacation, not just a visit to the amusement park!
A few years ago, we decided to designate a certain amount of money for special purchases whenever our family went to an amusement park. We figured out what we could afford ($25, but $15 would have been more than enough) and then told our children, then 5 and 8, how much they were allowed to spend. We told them the money was theirs.
You can imagine their beaming faces as they suddenly received free money. We, the parents, became the money carriers, but allowed the kids to spend as they desired. It could be used for toys or candy or extra drinks, it was their decision.
It was very interesting to watch them as we travelled the park. They'd say, "I want this or I want that" and we'd respond by letting them know how much of their money it would use up. We also occasionally informed them that it was more than they could afford. What a relief to see them decide whether it was truly worth it to invest in the stuffed Shamu if that meant they couldn't have a frozen lemonade later. They took more responsibility in their choices and truly appreciated and reused whatever they purchased. No more blinking lights which cost $7 tossed into the garbage the following day. It makes my cheap parental heart leap for joy.
Love it. SO much learning: managing money, delaying gratification, assessing value, understanding scarcity, and extending the pleasure of shopping (which is distinct from the pleasure of buying, but many kids never realize that).
We did exactly this during a recent trip to Disneyland. We also took smartphone pictures of the items the kids wanted (and where the items were for sale) so they could spend the evening reviewing their options before making a final decision. Not only did this help them decide on the item they truly wanted, it kept us from getting waylayed in gift shops every ten minutes.