Cheap Family Vacations: Money Saving Ideas

Family vacations need not be high-priced to ensure that everyone has a good time. Here are some ideas for affordable fun.

Everyone needs to get away at times to enjoy a few days of leisure and fun without everyday stresses hanging over them. But when you have a family, planning a vacation may seem out of the question if your budget is tight.

You don't have to make a trip around the world as a family getaway. Instead, focus on less expensive, more flexible ways of getting away from it all.

1. Go camping. Avoid high-priced hotels or fancy resorts. Pack up your tent and head for the campground where you'll meet interesting people and enjoy new activities like swimming, horse shoes, and the game shelter. For a few dollars per night, you can park your car and put up a tent close to running water and indoor restrooms. Or if you have a camper, you can get an electric hook-up for cooking and heat. From national parks like Yellowstone to lake shore vistas in the Midwest, your family can see it all each year for a low recreational fee.

2. Buy a timeshare. If you know of other people who are willing to go into a condo investment with you, purchase a Florida or coastal property that you can visit each year. You'll enjoy the perks of a prime location adjacent to popular resort areas but without the high cost of expensive hotels or lodgings. Take care to invest with people you thoroughly trust and can negotiate terms with for sharing a usage schedule. The payment will be more affordable than taking the family on a costly trip each year.

3. Take a shorter trip. Young children won't notice if you stay three days or seven. In fact, toddlers may prefer getting home sooner than later, since they often feel more secure in familiar surroundings. Teens also may enjoy a short stay so they can get back to friends and social events more quickly. Plan a three- or four-day getaway instead of a week or two. That way, you can take another short vacation later in the year and it will seem like a luxury as well as a stress reliever. Going for three days instead of seven means you'll spend only about half of what you could have otherwise.

4. Budget a proportionate amount of the monthly budget toward vacation costs. For example, if your household expenses typically run $1,600 per month, allocate approximately $400 for the week you'll be on vacation. While some expenses like the mortgage are fixed and must be paid regardless, others like groceries and utilities can be cut back to fund the trip.

5. Get a discount vacation. Watch for coupons in ads, the yellow pages, or in special offers for a long weekend at a national hotel. Some specials provide one night free when you pay for two. Plan your vacation around the special so that the family spends three days in a hotel using the swimming pool, spa, and exercise room at a fraction of the regular cost.

With a little forethought and planning, vacation costs can be controlled and limited. Start looking for ways to fund your next family getaway so when it comes, you'll be ready to relax without a care in the world.

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