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How to Plan a Budget Friendly Family Vacation

Avoid breaking the bank with these family fun vacation tips.
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If you weren’t able to sneak away over the summer, now is the perfect time to plan a quick little getaway for the whole family. And, despite what you have heard, you don’t have to go to Europe or Disneyland to have a great vacation. Avoid breaking the bank with these family fun vacation tips.

Explore Local

Start with a quick search on Google Maps. Enter your home address and explore the surrounding region. Chances are, there is a beach, park, or lake nearby that your family has never visited. With a minimal drive time of two to three hours, you’ll be out of town in no time. Plus, you’ll save big on flight fare and avoid having to rent a vehicle. Now that sounds like a cheap getaway.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Spending time in nature is not only good for your wallet, but it’s also good for your soul. Did you know there are 61 total national parks across the United States? Find the national park that is nearest to your home and explore! Just beware that most parks require an entrance fee of $35 per vehicle. It may be worth the investment to purchase an annual national park pass. For an entire year, the ‘America the Beautiful Pass,’ will cover all entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as national forests, and more. Think of all the family adventures to be had!

Set up Camp

By the way, camping costs very little money. Overnight camping fees are usually as low as $20 per night. All you need are a few essential accessories (i.e., a tent, sleeping bags, and flashlights), so you don’t have to worry about overspending, and the kids will no doubt love an opportunity to sleep outside. Plus, most state and national parks offer bathhouses with showers and flushable toilets for that added level of comfort. Your food bill can be whatever you spend on groceries and nothing more. Don’t forget to pack the ingredients for campfire s'mores!

Consider Renting A House

When traveling with children, a traditional hotel room can feel cramped, and booking multiple rooms can blow the budget. An alternative option is renting a house. Services, like Airbnb, make it easy to search a location for precisely what you’re looking for (think number of rooms and beds, amenities, and pet-friendly homes). Then, you can book, pay, and communicate directly with the owner of the property. These type of services are a great way to book a unique place to stay and experience your destination like a local.

Avoid Popular Destinations

Think twice before heading to that trendy park that you keep seeing people tag on Instagram. Popular tourist attractions and cities can add to your overall cost. Plus, with all of the added attention on social media, some destinations can be borderline overcrowded by the time you arrive. To avoid waiting in lines, and overspending on food and lodging, search for destinations that are slightly off the beaten path. In many cities, like Charleston, South Carolina, there are housing developments located just outside of the beaches and main attractions. Staying a few miles away is worth the added savings.

Stay with Friends or Family

It may not be ideal, but staying with friends or family is a cheap vacation idea. Not only will you get to spend time with the people you love, but you also have access to a kitchen to help save money on eating out. Staying with friends or family should drastically cut back on your travel costs. However, it’s important to be mindful of your surroundings. Avoid making a mess in someone else’s home and don’t be a mooch. Offer to pay for groceries, and treat your loved ones to dinner or dessert one night.