A family vacation doesn’t have to include fancy flights to far-off places or ritzy resorts to reap meaningful rewards. So clear the calendar, craft a budget and consider these five ideas that won’t break the bank.
1. Go for it – Plan to participate in a 10k, hike the West Coast forest or camp in the backcountry. This is the year to research, plan and execute that big idea you’ve been talking about but never had time to organize. Declare it a family affair and make the training and preparations part of the fun.
2. Trade houses – Find a friend or family member in a nearby – or relatively nearby! – town who’s willing to join in the fun. Think about it: new toys in the closet, bikes in the garage, play sets in the back yard and snacks in the cupboard. (Agree up front on what is included in the deal.) Trade information about local walking paths, parks, museums, restaurants and movie theatres. Then enjoy the new view.
3. Commit to a weekend ‘away’ – Part of the holiday mindset includes saying no to checking work email, sending text messages or posting on Instagram. If not for a week or two, agree to make family the focus for one whole weekend. Visit a new restaurant, go to a ballgame, take a long bike ride, float down the local river in an inner tube or break out some new board games at home. Check out the local farmers markets for fresh food or trek to the newest ice cream shop for a special sweet treat. If duty calls, let folks know your family is on vacation.
Grandparents can also provide parents a separate vacation by taking the grandkids to see the local sites for the day or weekend.
4. Focus on free – Museums, festivals, lectures, parks, concerts and libraries are all sources of family fun where the admission is often offered at a low cost, or even free. Check local websites and create your no-cost or low-cost itinerary for the length of your “vacation.”
Create your own day-long bike tour or scavenger hunt with special stops that will appeal to each member of your family.
Organizations like Free Tours by Foot offer guided tours in cities across the country at no charge. You have the option to compensate your guide based on your satisfaction with the experience.
5. Book last-minute and local – Check travel websites and tourism bureaus for last-minute deals in your home town or in a nearby city. Without air and significant gas charges, taking advantage of these down-to-the-wire deals can be worth the minimum expense. You’ll enjoy the travel treat knowing you’ve kept expenses in check.
– By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes, FamilyTravel.com
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