Inexpensive Family Vacations For Under $200

Inexpensive family vacations for under $200. A change of scenery and spending quality family time need not mean breaking the budget. A little creative planning goes a long way!

Job. Spouse. Kids. Often, life seems to revolve around them. And because we want the best for our families and ourselves, we give them our best efforts and attention. The problem comes when the daily grind of our obligations gets us trapped in a "routine rut." Everyone needs to change the focus from time to time. The mental, emotional and physical benefits of reducing stress are well documented. But what can one do when time and/or finances prohibit a much needed vacation? Consider a mini-vacation!

Sometimes, just a night or weekend away from the customary is all it takes to breath new life into our spirit. With a little planning, mini vacations can be both affordable and revitalizing. Unlike long distance vacations, the planning phase for mini vacations is drastically more narrow; thus, preparation stress should be almost nonexistent.

If you have only a night, don't over-book the plans. Remember, you're not trying to cram an entire vacation into a few hours. The idea is to find quality time for an evening of duty-free pleasure and relaxation. A couple of days in advance, select a quiet restaurant you've been meaning to try and make reservations. Keep in mind that if you are in a suit and tie throughout your work week, you might want to go more casual on your restaurant selection. On the other hand, if your work week is casual, a more formal evening will offer you a change from the ordinary. To follow, check your area for an opera, museum display, play or symphony. If the arts aren't your cup of tea, select another activity that both calms and appeals to you. But select only one, otherwise you end up drained, both physically and financially, from an over extended evening.

Another option for a one night getaway is reserving a hotel room in a nearby city or town, renting a couple of movies you've been meaning to see, and enjoying the luxury of room service. Letting someone pamper you a little and changing the scenery can be all you need to recharge. Many of the nicest hotels have prices around $100-$130 per night and include a continental or buffet breakfast. Budget additionally for gas and the room service.

For couples who never seem to find enough time for themselves, a weekend away can work miracles. Take a week or two to plan your mini vacation. Be sure to work out childcare and/or pet care, with a solid substitute in the wings just in case something should happen at the last minute. Plan your weekend around an activity that both of you enjoy but have not been able to work into your regular schedules. For example, if you and your spouse use to enjoy photography, get the camera out and the film ready to go. Select a location together, and revisit the pleasures of the lens! If you both enjoy music, try to work your mini vacation around a scheduled concert. The idea is to plan something that is mutually enjoyable and doesn't require dipping into the family savings. A comfortable hotel room can average between $60-75 per night, an affordable range for a nice weekend getaway.

Keeping your mini vacation financially stress-free is a very important benefit. Create a savings dedicated especially for the occasion. A hidden jar is perfect! If you normally eat out at lunch, brown bag it for a couple of weeks. Have that yard sale you've been planning forever and dedicate the proceeds to your mini vacation fund. Hold off on that new pair of shoes, reschedule the project to redecorate the bathroom. And don't be tempted to dip into it; after all, this is an investment in you.

Consider these additional options for a low-cost mini vacation:

1) A night at a Bed and Breakfast. Call ahead for reservations, as most have a limited number of rooms and schedule well in advance. Nothing is more relaxing than a big front porch with only the distant sounds of nature. A great way to find the quiet time we all need.

2) State Parks. Most offer affordable accommodations, but be sure to call ahead for reservations. Explore caves, fish, hike, or just kick your feet up and relax! This can be the perfect mini vacation for couples or families.

3) Annual Arts and Crafts Festivals. This is especially great for those in large urban areas. Many smaller towns and communities have annual festivals, especially in the Fall. Spending the weekend or even a day enjoying beautiful and unique works of art is a great way to get out of the city.

The Chamber of Commerce is an excellent resource for finding out local activities and events. Use the Internet to find out when and where activities of interest are going on, but you should follow up with an email or phone call to verify that the website information is accurate and current.

Keep your plans simple and well focused. Mini vacations keep the household budget in tact while offering the opportunity to unwind and regroup. So, save that empty jelly jar for a mini vacation bank and get busy planning yours!

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