Published on March 9, 2014
BUDGET VACATIONS YOUR FAMILY WILL LOVE You can have a great vacation without breaking the family bank. With the proper planning, anything is possible!
Budget Draw up a budget before your trip. Ask yourself, “How much can I spend on this vacation?” Include costs for transportation, lodging, and food, as well as activities and souvenirs.
Transportation Sometimes, flying can be cheaper than driving. Do the math to compare modes of transportation to determine which method of travel is least expensive. Consider that you can explore more when you’re in the car.
Calculate the Cost/Mile to Drive 1. Know how many miles per gallon your vehicle gets. 2. Find out how much a gallon of gas costs in your area. 3. Divide the cost per gallon (#2) by your miles per gallon (#1). 4. Use the result to determine the cost of your trip, based on the miles you’ll be driving. Multiply #3 by your total estimated trip miles.
Lodging: Factors to Consider Do You Really Need to Stay in a Fancy Hotel? You’re probably not going on vacation to lie around in your room. After all, you can lie around at home. The majority of the time you’re in a hotel will be spent sleeping. Once you turn off the lights, you can’t tell how nice the room is. Other options for your money may be a lot more fun.
Instead of a high-end hotel, consider: Cabins. They come in all shapes and sizes and many have basic electricity. Tents. With a good mattress, decent weather, and shower access, $15 nightly may be all you’ll spend at a campground. Campers. If you have a vehicle with a trailer hitch, rent a camper. House-sitting. You can stay in someone’s home at your destination and enjoy free accommodations. Bed and breakfast inns. Breakfast is free and if you share a bathroom down the hall, you’ll really save.
More Options for Lodging College housing. During summer months, check out university-housing.com for availability of dorm rooms at your destination. Rent a house or apartment. You’ll save on lodging and food. Rent a room. Staying in someone’s home in a spare room preserves your budget. Stay with relatives. Consider staying half the time with family and half on your own.
Inexpensive Food Options Buy food at the store to make your own meals. Have a cooler on hand for deli meats and cheeses. Bring your own drinks, then order water with your meals when eating out. Stay in a hotel offering a free breakfast. While camping, cook over the campfire or on the cook stove. Have fruit or cereal for breakfast. Then eat lunch out while exploring. Return to room or camp for dinner.
Take a Staycation! Stay Home • Accommodations • Meals • Transportation • There’s no place like it! Save more money! • Eat at fancy restaurants or get a massage. Sleep in your own bed. Spend on things you normally don’t. Take daytrips. • Local and nearby attractions.
Budget Destination Locations Locales like the beach, mountains, city, lake, or simply road-tripping can be wonderful, budget-friendly vacations.
The Beach It costs little to spend a day at the beach. The beach pleases everyone. You can walk, swim, sleep, read a book, or play in sand. Other interesting things are near the beach, like shops, museums, and art.
Do You Live Close to a Great Beach? Consider these locales: Destin, Florida It has great bird-watching areas. There’s plenty of golf, tennis, and fishing. You can listen to live music while dining at one of the openair cafes along the beach and docks. Decent hotels in the area can cost less than $100 nightly and include free breakfast.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts Cape Cod’s extensive seashore is located within driving distance of the entire Northeast. Bay side: excellent seashells and uncrowded beaches Ocean side: enjoy surfing Provincetown area: shops, museums, and active nightlife Camp in the summer: sunny days, cool nights, and few bugs.
Cannon Beach, Oregon The famous Haystack Rock, which is featured in several movies, is just off the coast in the shallow waters. The Emerald Forest is great for a day hike and claims the huge, 300year-old Sitka spruce trees. From the forest’s edge, you can see the Pacific Ocean. Local villages, beaches, and bluffs are perfect for exploring. Many hotel rooms are priced less than $100 a night.
The Mountains You may prefer the quiet and majesty of the mountains. If you love cool air and day hikes, a trip to the mountains might be a good choice. Some mountain towns have many shops, great restaurants, and other interesting tourist attractions.
Are You a Day’s Drive from the Mountains? Check out these destinations. Gatlinburg, Tennessee If you want to be in the mountains but have plenty of tourist attractions, this is the place for you: Great fishing: hundreds of miles of trout streams Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in Smokey Mountain National Park at 6,643 feet, is nearby. Numerous trails for hiking or mountain biking Renowned for its shopping: If you can’t buy it here, you probably can’t buy it anywhere. Dollywood is only 10 miles away if you’re into amusement parks. Variety of lodging options to fit any budget
Estes Park, Colorado Home to Rocky Mountain National Park Hiking, rock climbing, and white water rafting at their best. It’s also a great place for viewing wildlife. It’s well-known for the many bighorn sheep that roam the area. It’s one of the most scenic places in the United States. A multitude of lodging opportunities, from camping and cabins to deluxe home rentals
Mammoth Lakes, California Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and a short drive from Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes offers a wide variety of outdoor and scenic activities: Fishing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, zip lining, horseback riding, and more The largest unrestored ghost town in the US is also nearby in Bodie State Historical Park. Accommodations are available from camping to vacation rentals that cost over $2,500 per night.
The City Big cities offer some low-cost lodging and entertainment. Do your homework ahead of time to find low-cost options. Many large cities have out-of-the-way, inexpensive inns. If you’re willing to buy food to prepare in your room, you can cut some costs to spend a bit more on lodging. Some attractions have free days.
Big Cities to Consider to Save $$ Michigan City, Indiana & Chicago, Illinois Michigan City has great beaches on the lake and a casino. Chicago is just a short drive away. Michigan City was recently named as the least expensive city in the United States. Chicago: Famous museums of art, science, and natural history. Architectural tours, including a tour from a boat that travels down the river through downtown. Great restaurants, sports teams, shopping, and outdoor activities
Atlanta, Georgia Home to Coca-Cola and the spectacular Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta is a great destination. The Atlanta Botanical Gardens covers more than 30 acres and includes a 40-foot high suspension bridge walk that gives the experience of walking in the treetops. The Children’s Museum of Atlanta is fun for those of any age. There’s rarely a week that goes by without a festival of some sort. The CNN studio tour is another popular attraction. Atlanta also has a wide-variety of lodging options of many price points. Camping is available in many nearby locations, but keep the climate in mind.
Las Vegas, Nevada Surprisingly, there are many family-oriented activities: Inexpensive buffets Shows suitable for children, including magic shows, circuses, and acrobatic groups. There are also roller coasters, arcades, and more. Mandalay Bay has a great outdoor beach and wave pool. You don’t even have to be a guest, but you’ll have to pay for access. Excellent opportunities for outdoor activities, especially hiking. Hoover Dam is nearby, too. Lodging to fit any budget
The Lake Going to a lake provides casual, outdoor fun. Crater Lake, Oregon Crater Lake in Oregon is the deepest lake in the United States, 1,943 feet deep! The water is very cold and famous for its blue color. Hiking, fishing, and bicycling are popular activities. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing makes a winter-time vacation fun. Tour boats cruise the lake several times per day. It’s best to be in shape just to get on the boat! It’s 700 feet down to the dock and 700 feet back up to the rim. Nearby, you can find horseback riding, river rafting, and several museums. Camping, cabins, and hotel rooms are available. Camping is limited to the summer and early fall.
Lake Champlain, New York This huge lake has been pivotal in the American Revolution, the French and Indian Wars, and the War of 1812. Several forts are available for tours, the most notable being Fort Ticonderoga. The lake is famous for its fishing, particularly northern pike. Boating and swimming are popular activities. All accommodations are available, from camping to fancy.
Table Rock Lake, Missouri If you like the outdoors and country music, you’re set for a budget-friendly vacation. Hosts the annual, 3-week Bluegrass and Barbecue Festival The area is also famous for its catfish. Scuba diving, hiking, biking, and kayaking are also popular. The area is loaded with options for live entertainment. The Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure are also big hits. Go-karting and water parks are also available.
Road-Tripping Combining multiple locations makes a great driving vacation, particularly if you live near a beach, a big city, and the mountains. After a few days walking your legs off in a big city, head for a quiet, restful cabin by a lake for a few days. Keep the amount you drive under control to ensure you have a nice vacation and save money on gas, too.
Most locales have certain times of the year when prices are low. Focus on Being Together. The more you look, the more likely you’ll find a great deal. Vacation Off-Season. Plan Ahead. More Budget Vacation Tips That’s what it’s really all about, going someplace new and experiencing it together.
A great vacation needn’t be expensive. Start planning a budget vacation today and make memories your family will cherish forever!
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