Family travel on a budget

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When your family comes down with a bad case of cabin fever in times of economic duress, planning an affordable out-of-town vacation is about as complicated and time consuming as finding a cheap gallon of gas. The whole household is anxious to get away from school, work, and soccer practice just long enough to get a breath of fresh air.

There are plenty of travel and leisure opportunities in or just outside your hometown. If your family needs a break from the norm, start planning a family vacation and give yourself the peace, rest and relaxation that comes with getting away, while sticking to a budget you can afford.

Before you go: Smart family planning

Booking: Reserving a couple of rooms at an out-of-town hotel can cost you, especially if you’re traveling on or over a holiday. Depending on the length of your vacation, you may be able to cut costs by staying in bed-and-breakfasts. Most B&Bs have restrictions on their length of stays, and the homier, more intimate surroundings will squash the worries of restless younger travelers. Some B&Bs aren’t crazy about kids running around, though, so be sure to mention that you’ll be bringing the whole family on this trip when you call to make a reservation.

Packing: Your packing strategy should be “all-inclusive,” even if your makeshift resort is not. Unexpected thunderstorms and stifling warm fronts can make everyone miserable if there’s an umbrella missing from your suitcase or too many sweaters. Pack for a variety of temperatures and make sure that everyone packs plenty of layers; this is a safe way to avoid discomfort in any climate. Be sure to check out your destination’s local forecast before you pack for your trip so that you can avoid unnecessary purchases (sun block, rain gear, extra socks, etc.) that’ll put you over budget and add to the unpacking mayhem when you return home.

Alternate Itineraries: Were your picnic-in-the-park plans ambushed by an overnight blizzard? Did an outdoor concert or baseball game get rained out? Have a unique back-up plan in place, should the weather decide not to cooperate. Put your library card and your kids’ student IDs to use to gain access to museums, movies, and other cultural events the whole family can enjoy at a discount. Public libraries frequently offer free passes to the best exhibits your city has to offer, and if you’re out of town, student IDs will snag cheap tickets for your kids to movies, museums, and nights at the theater or ballet.

Getting there: The best way to get to your destination

Air Travel: Believe it or not, cheap flights can still be found. You just have to know where to look. Most airlines offer cheap airfare deals for children, and long car rides can easily be traded in for flights that land within an hour or two of takeoff. Whether you’re flying domestic to Florida or international to Paris, check for last minute travel deals and holiday deals, and try booking flights for the middle of the week as opposed to weekend dates for cheaper fares. You might also consider flying from a nearby, but less congested, airport. These alternate airports usually have lower prices for popular routes.

Search for flights to Florida

Car travel: You don’t need hi-tech, expensive gizmos to keep your kids occupied for long drives. Car crafts are a good way to go. Coloring books are great diversions that keep kids busy for an hour or two, and you won’t have to worry about ink getting all over your leather upholstery if you hand them a box of crayons or colored pencils instead of markers. A great way to break up a long drive and to cut the cost of fast food is to plan a roadside picnic in a safe rest-stop area. This will also give the kids a chance to run around outside for a bit after filling up on cheap eats from home.

Boat travel: Though trips over the high seas promise fresh surroundings and a clear view of the horizon, ferry and boat rides can result in seasickness, nausea, and uncomfortable seating. Be sure to pack anti-nausea medication in case the waves prove to be a bit rough on the ride, and step out onto the deck with your kids for some fresh air. Carrying extra sweatshirts and layers are a must: Winds on the water can leave those adrift a little chilly, and if you’re in it for a longer voyage you’ll want to be able to head onto the deck without a freeze from the ocean breeze.

Your family vacation should be an enjoyable break from the normal chaos, so plan ahead and travel smart – you’ll have a better time and your family will thank you.

(Featured image: Holidayextras)

Family travel on a budget was last modified: October 12th, 2017 by Melisse Hinkle
Author: Melisse Hinkle (367 posts)

A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has traveled throughout North America, biked through rice paddies in Bali, seen the Northern Lights in Iceland, walked alongside llamas in Machu Picchu and made her way around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Head of Content and Social Media for North America at Cheapflights.