The Best Tips for Planning a Family Vacation on a Budget

A cheap family vacation can feel out of reach, but it isn’t impossible. My family and I have loved being able to travel a bit over the years, but we have never had much money to do anything too big or fancy.

I have always been determined to travel regardless of our income level. As the warmer weather sets in, people are thinking about their Summer plans. Do you want your Summer plans to include a nice vacation with the ones you love?

cheap family vacation

If you want to enjoy a holiday, but need it to be a cheap family vacation, read along for some times on how to do that.

How much does a family vacation cost?

The cost of a family vacation can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as the destination, duration of the trip, mode of transportation, accommodation choices, activities, and the size of your family. It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “How much does a family vacation cost?” However, I can provide you with some general insights to help you estimate your vacation budget.

Destination: The cost of a family vacation can significantly differ depending on where you choose to go. Traveling to popular tourist destinations or international locations may be more expensive compared to domestic trips or off-the-beaten-path locations.

Transportation: The mode of transportation you choose can also impact the overall cost. Flying to your destination may be more expensive than driving, but it can save you time. Additionally, consider the cost of rental cars, gas, or public transportation at your chosen destination.

Accommodation: Accommodation costs can vary depending on the type of lodging you prefer, such as hotels, vacation rentals, or camping. Luxurious resorts and hotels will likely cost more, while budget-friendly options like motels or camping grounds can help you save money.

Activities: The cost of activities and attractions can add up quickly, especially if you plan to visit theme parks, museums, or participate in guided tours. Research the prices of specific activities in your destination and allocate a budget accordingly.

Dining: Food expenses can vary depending on whether you plan to eat out at restaurants, cook your own meals, or a combination of both. Consider the cost of groceries, dining out, and snacks during your vacation.

Duration: The length of your family vacation will naturally affect the overall cost. Longer trips will generally require a higher budget to cover accommodation, meals, and activities for an extended period.

Family Size: The number of family members will impact the overall cost. Additional plane tickets, larger accommodation, and more meals to cover can increase the expenses.

To get a better estimate of how much your family vacation may cost, research the average prices for your chosen destination and create a detailed budget plan. Consider using online travel websites or consulting with travel agents to get an idea of prices for flights, accommodation, and activities.

It’s also helpful to read reviews and seek recommendations from fellow travelers who have visited your desired destination.

Remember, it’s crucial to set a realistic budget based on your financial capabilities and prioritize your family’s needs and preferences. With careful planning, research, and smart choices, you can have a memorable family vacation without breaking the bank.

Cheap Family Vacation Ideas

Go camping. We have enjoyed so many camping trips over the years. Enjoying bonfires and swimming, boating and hiking, it has given our family many memories.

Depending on your budget will determine how “luxurious” your camping trip will be. Some people are able to camp on crown land, while others prefer a camping resort, and still others are a fan of the provincial or state parks.

My personal favorite is the provincial and state parks. There are so many adventures to be had when you camp!

Book hotels on budget sites. Priceline and Hotwire are two great sites to book a hotel. Priceline has a name-your-own price option where you can bid on a room.

Be aware that these places usually do not allow for refunds. We have used Priceline for over 10 years now and out of all the times I’ve used it I can only remember once that I was disappointed with our hotel room. I have also used Hotwire in the past with good results.

Have a STAYCATION. Many times there are places in our own cities or towns that we just don’t visit because we haven’t made time or thought of it.

Look at your area through a tourist’s eyes and have your own personal staycation. Go to museums, festivals, and restaurants you have never tried before in your local area.

Spend a day at the beach. Have a picnic in the park. There are so many great things you can do during a staycation.

Make your own food. Food is a pretty big expense on trips. Bring a cookstove or travel bbq, rent a place with a kitchenette,or pack picnic food. Make your meals instead of eating out. You will save significantly.

Visit friends or family. You can save on accommodations by visiting friends or family. Just be careful not to overstay your welcome or take advantage of them allowing you to stay at their house.

Bring your own food, make meals, clean up after yourself. Be a guest they want to have back!

Visit free attractions. Research your area you want to visit beforehand and find out if there are any free attractions you can take your family to. There may be some parks, educational events, festivals, or outdoor shows in the area that are free while you are there.

Plan for the off-season. If your schedule allows, take a vacation during the off-season. Prices are often cheaper when there are less tourists, and let’s not forget to mention that it is less busy which means more room to explore in peace!

Book a place to stay through Airbnb. You have to make sure you do your research, but often you can find cheaper accomodations through places like Airbnb that go through the owner.

Try WWOOFingWWOOFing is a work vacation. Basically, the host offers you accommodations for your services on their organic farm. Depending on the ages of your kids, this could be not only a fun experience, but very educational.

You may work for so many hours in the day, and then be able to explore the area in the evenings. Different hosts have different guidelines of what they want, and not all hosts take families with kids, but some do.

Vacation somewhere that is close to home. Want to go away but can’t afford to go too far? What about the city two hours away, or the quaint little town 4 hours away? You don’t have to drive for a day to call it a vacation.  

Find some place you can take a short drive to and you’ll save on gas and accommodations.

Drive instead of fly. Flights for a whole family add up. Drive to your destination instead if possible.  I mean, who doesn’t love a good road trip.

Shorten your time away. You don’t have to go away for 2 weeks to enjoy a vacation. Even a weekend away can help you relax.

Pick the less popular attractions.  Listen, I know you may feel like you’ll only be a good parent if you take your kids to Disney World, but finding a cheaper amusement park or indoor water park will be just as fun (maybe more since you’ll save money and possibly avoid the bigger crowds at a bigger theme park like Disney.)

Stick to a budget, and be flexible to accommodate that. Years ago our family went to Colorado. We had planned to stay two weeks, but while we were there the area was constantly hit with flash floods while we were travelling the mountainous roads. Instead of camping like we had originally planned, we ended up needing to stay at a hotel many nights because high winds, and flash floods were blowing away our tent! Instead of overspending, we decided to come home half a week early. We were thankful for our time there, and though it was a little disappointing to come home early, it was better than going into debt for it.

What is a Good Affordable Vacation?

If you’re looking for an affordable family vacation that combines the beauty of the great outdoors with exciting activities and good deals, you’re in luck! There are plenty of destinations in North America that offer the best family vacations without breaking the bank.

From national parks to historic sites and beautiful beaches, here are some of the best ways to have a cheap family vacation while still enjoying quality time with your loved ones.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

 Known for its stunning natural landscapes and abundant wildlife, Yellowstone offers a memorable vacation experience. To get the best deal, consider visiting during the shoulder season when prices are lower, and take advantage of rental cars to explore the park at your own pace.

San Diego 

Vacation in San Diego

With its beautiful beaches, outdoor activities, and attractions like Balboa Park, San Diego is a great place for a family getaway. Look for affordable accommodations near the beach and take advantage of free activities and admission to attractions like the San Diego Zoo.

The National Mall, Washington, D.C. 

The National Mall, Washington, D.C.

Spring break is an excellent time to visit the nation’s capital, as the weather is pleasant, and many attractions offer free admission. Explore the historical sites, such as the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian museums, and make the most of the local transport options to navigate the city easily.

Niagara Falls

Affordable niagara falls vacation

For a breathtaking natural wonder, visit Niagara Falls during the summer months. You can enjoy the scenic drive along the falls, take a boat tour, and explore the nearby state parks. Consider staying in a small town nearby to save on accommodation costs. 

There are many things that can be expensive in Niagara Falls, but if you avoid the touristy trap type places, and stay in a small town instead of right in Niagara Falls, you can save on your vacation.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

Step back in time and experience history in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. This living history museum offers a great way to learn about the nation’s colonial past. Take advantage of package deals that include accommodation, meals, and access to multiple attractions.

San Francisco

San Francisco Vacation

While San Francisco can be an expensive city, there are ways to make it affordable for a family trip. Look for cheap flights and accommodations outside of the high season, and take advantage of free activities like exploring Golden Gate Park or visiting the city’s many museums.

San Antonio

San antonio vacation

With its rich history and vibrant culture, San Antonio offers a variety of attractions for the entire family. Explore the Alamo and enjoy a scenic river walk. Look for accommodations with an indoor pool to cool off during the hot summer months.

Ocean City, Maryland

Vacation in Ocean City, Maryland

If you’re looking for a beach vacation, Ocean City is a great choice. With its miles of white sand beaches and a lively boardwalk with amusement rides and ice cream parlors, it’s a perfect destination for family fun. Look for hotels with outdoor pools to keep the kids entertained.

Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells Vacation

Known as the “Waterpark Capital of the World,” Wisconsin Dells is a great destination for families seeking water activities and adventure. Many hotels offer inclusive packages with access to indoor water parks, which can be a great way to have fun without spending extra on entertainment.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountains National Park Vacation

With its stunning natural beauty and abundant wildlife, the Great Smoky Mountains offer a great time for the entire family. Explore the park’s hiking trails, go horseback riding, and enjoy the scenic drives. Look for affordable accommodations in nearby towns.

Apply The Best Tips for Planning a Family Vacation on a Budget

Remember, when planning a cheap family vacation, it’s essential to set a vacation budget and consider the extra costs, such as meals and souvenirs.

Take advantage of free breakfast options at hotels and pack a picnic for days spent in national parks or at the beach. Also, consider using a credit card that offers rewards or cashback on travel expenses to save even more.

By choosing destinations that offer affordable attractions, accommodations, and local transport options, you can have the best cheap family vacations and create lasting memories with your loved ones.

Whether you prefer the great outdoors, historical sites, or relaxing beach getaways, there’s a perfect destination out there waiting for you.

There are many ways to experience budget family vacations. Don’t miss out on spending quality time with your family this Summer because of a tight budget. Find ways to enjoy exploring and having adventures with your family by using these tips for family fun!  

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