Families are facing some really desperate times. Mom and dad are losing their jobs or are taking cuts in order to stay employed. The costs of feeding, clothing, and housing a family have nearly doubled over the last decade. Yeah, times are tough, but that is no excuse to let those vacation days slip by. It’s true that some may not be able to afford that trip to Paris they’ve been dreaming of, but they can afford to take their family on a vacation that doesn’t involve an inflatable pool in their backyard instead of a beach, and a Netflix marathon in lieu of a sightseeing tour. Staycations can save people money, but so can being a savvy vacation planner. When you plan your vacation equipped with the right knowledge and a few well-placed clicks, you can afford to LEAVE and actually GO on a vacation. Here’s how.
Discount Vacation Sites
Because so many people are looking to save money on their vacations, low cost travel sites have begun popping up everywhere—saving people money on their vacations has become big business. The big names in discount travel sites come to mind when hopeful vacationers begin their cost search. Discount travel sites like Expedia, Orbitz, Hotels.com, and Kayak offer their customers a lot of deals on hotels, airline tickets, and even tickets to destination attractions—sometimes they will offer package deals that can seem too good to be true. The truth is that they can offer these prices to their customers because airlines want to fill their seats, hotels want to fill their rooms, and area attractions are desperate for an influx of cash.
Also, smaller, less known discount travel sites like the ones that target specific areas might be able to offer better rates because they have less overhead and can therefore offer their customers better prices. For instance, The Orlando Vacation Store offers package deals on everything from Disney Parks to local shopping.
Sometimes the family vacation is put on hold because there just isn’t enough money in the budget to pay the skyrocketing costs of airfare. While gas prices aren’t faring any better, you can at least hit the road and travel the same distance you would fly for half the cost. If a ticket from Albany to Austin costs $650 for one person, the cost to drive the 1,845 miles (with current gas prices and a vehicle that gets 25 mpg) would be a much cheaper at $265. It’s only 27 hours of travel time between the two cities so the smart traveler would add in $100 for a night of hotel lodging, bringing the grand total for travel from point A to point B to $365. This is an incredibly affordable way to travel AND this cost covers travel for more than one person, unlike the airfare, and there aren’t annoying baggage fees.
Your family may not have the time to take vacation time. Even if you can get off of work for a week, your kids still have school, soccer games, musical theater tryouts, and friends they couldn’t possibly stay away from for more than two days. So, the simple solution is to take a weekend vacation. Taking a trip to a destination out of the country or even out of the state isn’t feasible because you’d spend more time traveling than relaxing.
Weekend getaways can be inexpensive if your know where to look for vacation planning. To find local or regional events to do over the weekend, just do a quick internet search and go from there. Once you find something you would love to do, you can book a room for one or two nights, fill up the gas tank, and leave the world behind for 48 hours. The truth is that many local or regional events are low cost because they are hosted by small time organizations who just want to provide a great family fun festivity. For example, there is no reason to pay for world class shows or concerts in San Francisco when families can have just as much fun at a Crawdad Festival in Isleton—for free!
For the adventurous family that loves to really leave it all behind, there is the concept of the family camping trip. Most campsites charge $25 to $70 per site (depending on hook ups). Not only do you get to go away on a budget, but can also commune with nature and have a great time laughing, telling stories, and building s’mores around a roaring fire.
Even though most of us are dealing with a noticeable decrease in usable income these days, we can still have a vacation, away from home. We just have to know how to plan and where to look for the best deals.
Have you ever planned a vacation using a tight budget? Let us know how you did it!
I am all about the outdoor fun… getting out camping / walking / climbing / swimming / wakeboarding / ski-touring etc. There is ALWAYS a cheap alternative and the cheapest of things can bring such joy! Good post
Man.. now you have we wanting to go hiking and wakeboarding!
I think there’s a balance to be had. We like to do staycations because it allows us to go do/see things in our city that we’ve not done before but always wanted to. Thankfully we have a nice enough city that that’s possible. But, we’ve also had smaller vacations that are done on a tighter budget and those are always nice as well.
Do you prefer staycations or travel?
THis is great, and I agree. When that word first popped up, “staycation” I thought it was dumb, and I still do. Hey, we leave almost paycheck to paycheck right now, but we find these ridiculsouly great deals online, or we get free vacations just for sitting through a couple lectures on owning a timeshare (which we never do, obviously). And we also like to camp. Bought the equipment years ago, and so now, we can camp for a weekend for nearly free!
Do you prefer camping in winter or summer?
I almost only travel on a tight budget, because all the travel luxuries don’t give me as much value as traveling for more time with the same budget. I stay with friends, hosting networks, camp in national parks, hitch hike, have picnics instead of restaurants… and usually get to see as much if not more for a fraction of the price.
Nice! Trips where you don’t have to pay for hotel are the best! I bet you save a ton of money.
I think there should still be a balance between staying at home and leaving your home for the holidays. It’s good to go out and have fun, but it could also be physically draining and for some people who spend most of their time working, it is quite necessary for them to have some quiet time at home.
Physically draining it is! I travel ever Holiday and I’m always exhausted when I get home.
I agree!!! We are planning a trip to another state and to make that happen we will be driving with a stop over at a friends!
I know we have been spoiled with flying, but things have changed. I also want to take advantage and site see on the way.
My question is… who’s doing the driving lol
It’s pretty common to have a small holiday home in NZ and luckily we have a few friends whose families are well enough off to own a summer bach! Helps when accommodation is free or nearly free.
Having friends is definitely a plus. Having friends with a summer home is better!
Great post! Camping is by far my favorite cheap vacation idea. We do an annual camping trip each May with some family friends, and the cost is super low once we split it among the three families in attendance. And each family is in charge of one dinner per day, so the food costs are low as well!
You got it all worked out. We have used a similar model when we have traveled with friends. We personally love camping. I love the serenity of being at one with nature.