10 Great Ideas for Low-Cost Family Vacations

A great vacation doesn’t have to be a source of financial strain. It helps to take advantage of money-saving tips that apply to airfare, accommodations, food and other travel-related issues, but you can save even more by finding a low-cost destination. If you are flexible and willing to do a little research, you can enjoy a relaxing vacation without making a huge impact on your finances. Here are ten great ideas for fun and frugal vacations.

1. Go camping.

You probably won’t have to travel far to find a nice campsite, and the beauty of nature is exhilarating, abundant and absolutely free. If you don’t have your own camping equipment, you can rent it, borrow it from friends or buy used camping equipment.

You can also save by teaming up with friends, neighbors or even co-workers for a fun camping weekend. Sharing costs or bartering with fellow campers can turn this idea into one of the most affordable vacations you’ve ever had. To start making your camping plans, visit US-Parks.com for a comprehensive list of national parks and campgrounds across America. If you prefer a no-cost campsite, try your own backyard.

2. Have some fun on an organic farm.

World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is a network that connects volunteers to organic farms. In exchange for half a day of work on the sponsored farm, you can receive free food and lodging from the farm’s owners. The experience is a great option for people who are interested in greener living. It’s fun and educational for kids, it encourages physical activity, and it won’t injure your wallet.

3. Plan a history tour.

What are some historical places within driving distance? Many historic attractions are designed to entertain both adults and children, and admission is often cheap or even free. Some major cities offer guided historical trolley tours or walking tours that highlight local attractions. If you really love history, extend your travels to several neighboring states.

4. Visit a major city for a frugal shopping spree.

Just because you want to save money doesn’t mean that you can’t spend any at all. If you love to shop for bargains, why not make it an official event? Pick any major city that offers great retail options. A little research will help you find the best discount outlets, warehouse stores and antique or thrift malls. Find budget-friendly accommodations in the area, and then set a shopping budget so you can enjoy your vacation without worry. Be sure to reserve funds for the destination’s other attractions. If you will be tempted to overspend, leave credit cards at home or in someone else’s care.

5. Let flight specials dictate your destination.

If you keep track of airfare deals, you will often see incredible bargains on flights to specific destinations. Although these might not be the spots you had in mind, if you want to travel some distance away from your home for your vacation, this is one way to do it without paying ridiculous prices. When one of these special deals becomes available, do a little research to see what the city has to offer. It might be more fun to visit than you think.

6. Scout out theme park discounts.

Major theme parks collaborate with area businesses, restaurants, and other national brands for promotional purposes. If you keep your eyes and ears open and check your favorite theme park’s website frequently, you may find a great deal on discount tickets from an unexpected source. Here in Florida, all the theme parks offer discounts to Florida residents. Check out Dealvario for some fun, a place for great deal on discount tickets.

7. Travel with a group.

If you belong to a church, civic group or other community organization, you may have opportunities to attend retreats, tours, and other travel events at a discounted price. Other budget-minded members may be interested in cost-sharing. Keep your social connections active so that you won’t miss any upcoming plans.

8. Try something weird.

America is home to many strange attractions, and because they are generally small operations, admission is fairly inexpensive.

9. Swap houses with a fellow vacationer.

Exchanging homes with someone in another state or country eliminates accommodation costs and lets you enjoy all the comforts of a complete, functional home during your vacation. While this might be an unfamiliar or uncomfortable idea to many, it is becoming increasingly popular; more than 250,000 home swaps take place each year. The appeal of this practice may be easier to understand when you consider its benefits. While you are on vacation, you have complete flexibility and freedom. You can easily prepare meals at home instead of eating out. In return, someone is taking care of your home until your return. To learn more about home-swapping vacations, visit HomeExchange.com

10. Follow your interests.

The best vacation plans reflect who you are as an individual. You might be happier spending your time at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or talking to locals in Area 51 than getting seasick on an expensive cruise. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the price of a vacation reflects its value. Find destinations that offer the things you love; you might be surprised at how affordable they are.

Fun Is Waiting for You

Don’t let your vacation days go to waste because you think you can’t afford to have a great time. With a little research and planning, you can build the perfect vacation from free and low-cost options throughout the country and around the world.

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About the Author: Linda Clevenger

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