How to find family vacation deals
A family vacation is a great way for parents and kids to explore exciting new places and activities, but it can be a challenge finding ones that don't cost a bundle. Here are some options to consider when planning an affordable family vacation.
Convenience: You can make your family travels go more smoothly if you book accommodations with some of the comforts of home. Access to a kitchen allows you to buy and prepare your own food, letting you both save on restaurant bills and tailor meals to picky kids. A hotel suite with a kitchen is an option, but also consider renting a home or condominium. Besides giving you more space for the money, these rentals may give you access to extra amenities like a pool or clubhouse.
- Search for rentals by location and amenities at www.homeaway.com.
- Stay for free by trading your home or apartment with another family at www.homeexchange.com.
Nature: The great outdoors provides an almost endless variety of low-cost fun, such as hiking, biking, fishing and kayaking. Many national and state parks offer a range of affordable lodging options. Here are the top five most-visited national parks. Check their websites for cheap family vacation options and information on accommodations. (www.nps.gov):
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
- Yosemite National Park, California
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Idaho/Montana
- Olympic National Park, Washington
All-inclusive: These vacations can offer savings as well as convenience, especially for larger families. The costs for many activities are typically included with your purchase of the vacation package. Cruises are a great option, as are family-style resorts that offer package deals. Be sure to look for "kids stay free" or "kids eat free" specials at these destinations, and consider these kid-friendly vacations:
- Dude ranches can offer a variety of fun activities, including horseback riding, fishing, and arts and crafts for kids.
- Fully supported biking, hiking and camping trips give you adventure and the great outdoors without having to lug all the equipment yourself.
The time less-traveled: Traveling off-season can help you save on airfare, lodging and packages, while also avoiding crowds and lines. Many family destinations are busiest during the summer and holidays, so you may find deals if you can travel during the school year. If you do travel off-season, make sure you have backup activities in mind if bad weather makes your first-choice activities impractical. Here are five great family destinations:
- Washington, D.C. – Walk the National Mall, choose from 19 Smithsonian Museums, and visit the National Zoo.
- Boston – Enjoy the buskers at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace and the penguins at the New England Aquarium.
- Orlando – Between Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld, you may not be able to get your kids to leave.
- San Diego – Beaches, one of the world’s best zoos, and LEGOLAND offer a variety of family-friendly experiences.
- Williamsburg – Colonial Williamsburg may be the main draw, but your family will also have fun at Water Country USA or Busch Gardens.
With some research, you can find good deals on just about any type of vacation. Talk to your kids about what they want to do on vacation, and start planning an affordable family vacation that will appeal to the whole family.
What's next? Protect your finances while on vacation