Editor, momstown Guelph
For families everywhere, an important bonding experience is vacationing. It is fact, though, that most parents (like us!) tend to avoid a southern vacation due to budget issues. It is really difficult to go to a warmer, more southern, vacation destination with a larger family. The travel, meals, accomodations, as well as shopping expenses have to be taken into consideration. Often, families are aware of the cheaper vacation destinations (ie. camping). What some families don't know, though, is that there are certain tips, destinations, landmarks, and southern trips, that have family discount offers and tend to keep family vacations to a minimum price range.
For the family (large or small) who is on a tight budget, here are some ideas for you, in order that you may enjoy the family vacation bonding experience to its' fullest!
IDEAS FOR SHORT AND LONG(ER) FAMILY VACATION DESTINATIONS:
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and make some cheap family vacation memories, on a tight budget!
"The family road trip is the cheapest way to travel, especially with airlines tacking on all kinds of extra fees and [with] flights booked solid for the foreseeable future," says Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, co-founder and editor of the family travel site WeJustGotBack.com.
Kelleher suggests looking for a destination that's within driving distance from home. Ask families in your area where they go. Hit the travel and tourism websites of nearby places and you might just find the perfect destination!
If you want to go farther and fly to get there, keep costs down by avoiding heavy air travel times (namely, Friday and Saturday). "Being flexible with your travel dates can save you money when shopping for flights, as fares can differ depending on the day of the week. In general, you'll pay a premium if you fly on Fridays or Sundays," says a TripAdvisor expert. Also, limit your luggage — you will pay extra for it. Also, keep in mind when planning your flight, that you fly cheaper if it is 'last minute flights' or on the 'off season' for popular destinations (like Myrtle Beach, for example). Consider going to places like Myrtle Beach or Florida in May or June, rather than the ever popular Spring Break (if your kids can afford to miss a week of school!)
Known for being one of the cheapest Caribbean locations to travel to, the Dominican Republic has beautiful beaches and has plenty of all inclusive resorts to choose from. Look for some cheap vacation packages for your family to an all inclusive resort. Some all-inclusive resort destinations worth checking out are: 1) Tulum Beach of Mexico, 2) Cruises (ie. Disney), 3) Great Smoky Mountain and Yellowstone National Parks, 4) Washington D.C., 5) Yosemite National Park, 6) Destin, 7) Ocean City, 8) Virginia Beach, 9) Boston, 10) Tampa, 11) Charlotteville, 12) Vancouver, 13) Outer Banks, 14) Myrtle Beach
Take your family on a theme park vacation. If you decide on Disney, it is suggested by trip experts to stay in one of the many hotels located a few miles from the theme parks, instead of on-site, which will save you lots of money. These hotels usually provide scheduled shuttles to and from the parks, as well. If Disney is not your thing, plan a two day trip to a water park or roller coaster park. Some options include a Six Flags location, Dorney Park, and Busch Gardens.
Rent a place with a kitchen
This is a big one: Stay somewhere with cooking facilities so you can cook your own food. You'll automatically save money because you won't be forced to eat out for every meal. Simple.
Travel experts say that this is a major way to save cash when you travel with your family. "When budgeting for a vacation, families often underestimate how much they'll spend on food. But when your family eats out three meals a day, every day, for an entire week, your total food bill can easily hit quadruple digits," says Kelleher.
Buy your souvenirs ahead
Heading to a theme park? Souvenirs at places like Disney and Hershey Park are expensive, so hit the dollar store before you go, and look on the Internet for souvenirs. Your kids will still love them, but they won't cost you half as much!
Or skip the souvenirs completely and focus on pictures instead. "Instead of buying gifts, share your vacation experience with family and friends by taking pictures of your adventure and creating an online photo journal. Get the kids involved in writing about the trip," suggests travel expert Jenny Reed, who writes Travel Talk with Jenny.
Try a cabin
Believe it or not, cabin rentals can be economical, fun accommodations. Cabins are available at campgrounds across the United States and Canada. Nightly fees vary widely, as do the cabin amenities. For example, some don't have bathrooms and you have to use a communal one instead. So do your research and find one that meets your needs for comfort.
You may even have to bring your own linens and cook outside on a mini BBQ. A mini fridge can also help store some food. The kids will love it, when the family can gather around the fire and roast marshmallows for s'mores before bedtime! What fun! Or, if you are really looking for cheap accomodations, try a camper trailer or tent! CAMPING! Camping offers all of the fun of the rustic cabin, with a few less luxuries. It is adventurous and cheap! KOA campgrounds all over, offer both the cabin option and the camping or tenting options for families! Very economical indeed!
Check out this link, for references and more great and economical family vacation ideas:
Lana Kelly( B.A, SSW, ECE, Montessori). For 20 years, Lana has been dedicated to helping children and families. In 2010, she published a book (The Sheepish Lamb) , aimed at building resilience to childhood anxiety. She is a mom to four daughters, and values her faith and family solidarity.