As a parent, you know how expensive (and stressful!) family trips can be. Airfare, hotels, food, activities – it all adds up fast. But a memorable vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. With some smart planning and creativity, you can plan an affordable getaway that your whole family will love. In this article, we’ll share five budget-friendly vacation ideas to inspire your next family trip.
This is a collaborative post
Book Short Distance Flights
One of the biggest expenses for any trip is airfare. Flights can easily eat up a large chunk of your vacation budget. That’s why one of the best ways to save is to book short-distance flights whenever possible. For example, if you live on the East Coast of America, consider a road trip destination like the Great Smoky Mountains or a beach in North or South Carolina. For West Coast residents, places like San Diego, Phoenix or Utah national parks are relatively quick and inexpensive flights away so are therefore great budget-friendly vacation ideas.
Taking short hops instead of cross-country journeys can literally save you hundreds of dollars per ticket. This leaves you more money to splurge on fun activities and treats during your trip. Going has a very thorough walkthrough on using Google Flights. Check it out and see how much you could save.
Explore Close to Home For A Budget-Friendly Vacation
Along the same lines, visiting somewhere within driving distance can make for an easy and affordable vacation. Depending on where you live, this could be another town over or somewhere a few hours away by car. Not only are close destinations easy to get to, but you’ll also save on airfare and possibly hotel costs by staying somewhere within driving distance. Plus, since the location is more accessible, you can likely take several smaller trips throughout the year.
Book an Apartment Rental
One of the biggest hotel budget busters for families is having to get multiple rooms or large suites. This can raise the accommodation costs of your trip exponentially. That’s where apartment rentals come in handy. By booking a condo or other rental with multiple bedrooms and a kitchen, you can save significantly.
Compared to multiple hotel rooms, you’ll enjoy more room to spread out, plus have access to home amenities like kitchens and laundry. You can cook some of your own meals, which also saves versus dining out for every meal.
Take Advantage of Shoulder Season
Summer is considered peak season for many destinations, and with that comes peak pricing. Airlines and hotels charge top dollar when demand is high in summer. A way to combat this is by travelling in the shoulder season – the periods between peak and off-peak times. For summer destinations, aim to visit in May/early June or September/October. Rates are generally lower, but you can still enjoy nice weather (albeit sometimes hotter or cooler temps). You’ll find the biggest price differences for beach destinations in the Caribbean, Florida, California and elsewhere. But it applies to cities and international locales too so can be one of the best budget-friendly vacation ideas to consider.
Camp and Cook Out For A Budget-Friendly Vacation
Going back to nature can be one of the most budget-friendly vacation options for families. By staying at campgrounds or packing camping gear, you save on pricey hotel costs. National and state parks with camping offer fun outdoor adventures and natural beauty at affordable rates. Cooking over a campfire or camp stove is also cheaper than dining at restaurants for meals. Easy camp cooking ideas include:
- Grilled hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken breasts
- Make-ahead foil packets with meat and veggies
- Campfire stew, chili, or soup
- Grilled cheese sandwiches
- Cooked breakfast dishes like eggs, bacon and pancakes
Make tasty sandwiches and salads for lunch. And don’t forget the camping essentials – s’mores, hot chocolate, and trail mix!
Vacations don’t have to put you in debt or blow your savings. With some savvy planning, flexibility and creativity, you can plan memorable family trips on a budget.
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