Ideas for Family Budget Vacations

family budget vacations
Even in the tightest of economies, (maybe especially in tight economies) we still need to get away from it all and rejuvenate our spirits and re-kindle family relationships. How can you afford a vacation this year? Read on for some family budget vacation ideas that you may not have thought of.

Times are tight, and everyone is looking for ways to cut expenses. Does that mean that your family will have to forgo their long-awaited family getaway this summer? Maybe not! With a little planning and some smart choices, a family budget vacation can be within your reach! family budget vacations

  • Book online
    You can usually find better deals on airfare and lodging online. Companies save money when you make reservations online (no employee has to answer the phone, etc.), and they often pass those savings on to you. It is easier, too - no waiting on hold for the "next available customer service agent"!

  • Time it right
    Airfares are generally cheaper Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the highest on the weekends. You can save up to 20% by planning your trip from mid-week to mid-week versus weekend to weekend. If you are flexible on which days you travel, search different options until you find the best price.

  • Off the beaten path
    Do your research - talk to others who have been to your destination, read books, and search the web. Find out the best places to see, the best things to do, and the best food to eat. You may be surprised to find out that these places are not necessarily the most popular places, but the ones that keep a low profile. Quaint little family-owned restaurants are quite often much better and a fraction of the cost of their highly-publicized competitors. The same applies to many small family-owned hotels.


  • Stay close to home
    Skip the airfare and explore a city near your home. Or try a long weekend at an indoor water park resort as a splashy substitute for a beach vacation.

  • Go to a National Park
    Taking a trip to a to national park is one of the best options for family budget vacations. You can experience camping in the woods, skiing in the snow, and enjoying the country's most beautiful scenery. Kids love simple activities like watching wildlife and exploring nature.

  • Go Camping
    One of the most inexpensive family budget vacation ideas is camping. Not only is camping fun and exiting, but it lends an opportunity to teach your children valuable skills and life lessons. You can acquire camping gear for a family of four for less than $1000 and it can be used for many future vacations as well. Most campsites provide shower and toilet facilities, and many have cable TV and wireless access, too.

  • Farms, Ranches, or Family Camps
    If you are interested in taking the whole family to "summer camp" look into farms, ranches, and family camps. They are all-inclusive themed vacations that allow your family to enjoy a change of scenery and try on a whole different lifestyle. Generally the cost includes everything except transportation to the site - lodging, food, and entertainment.


  • Take the train
    Many people don't think of taking a train when they are planning a vacation, but it is worth considering. It may be less expensive, and the kids will see it as a grand adventure! It can be more comfortable than a plane, and less stressful than driving.

  • Skip the rental car
    If you are traveling by air, staying at a hotel, and thinking of renting a car, reconsider. Most hotels have shuttle service to and from the airport, and there is usually public transportation for getting around the area to restaurants and attractions. If you are traveling to a large city such as New York or San Francisco, the burden of trying to find parking can make having a car more trouble than it is worth.


  • Check online
    There are several online reservation sites available that offer discounts if you book a last minute hotel deal, including complimentary meals.

  • Join a hotel chain's rewards program
    Rewards typically include discounts and free nights. It costs nothing to join, so you have nothing to lose!

  • Be a home-swapper
    There are websites (,,, etc.) where you can search for homes to swap in the area you want to travel to. Since lodging is a major percentage of the cost of the typical vacation, having free lodging can open up your options considerably! You also get a house-sitter for your own home out of the deal!

  • Vacation Rentals
    If you have a large family, are vacationing with extended family or a group of friends, you will probably want to rent a furnished condo or house at your destination. The larger your family or group, the more you can save by renting a cottage, house, or condo instead of staying in a hotel. Vacation rentals rent by the unit, not by the number of guests, so if you have a group of 10, you may be able to stay quite comfortably in a 4-bedroom rental instead of paying for four separate hotel rooms. You can also save on meals by cooking rather than eating out.

  • Consider a suite
    Booking a suite for your family instead of a couple of standard rooms is a smart move for family budget vacations. The cost will be less, and you can have more "family togetherness"! Hotels that specialize in suites and cater to business travelers, may have special deals on weekends when there are few traveling for business.

    More money-savers for family budget vacations:

    1. Alternate expensive attractions with those that are free: a hike in the woods, a large playground in the area, or a tour of the local candy factory.

    2. Set a souvenir budget before you leave home and stick to it. If the kids are old enough, give them their allotment when you leave home and make sure that they know it is theirs to budget, but when it is gone, it is gone! (This is a good money management lesson!)

    3. Always ask when you call for reservations if there are any other discount deals available: kids eat free, a room upgrade, a second room at half price, etc.

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