Last Tuesday, my family of seven pulled up to the Days Inn in Geneva, New York. The temperature outside was a blazing 100+ and we were tired from 8 hours of driving in a car packed full with people. I was sitting in the back seat, in between my two youngest, to maintain the peace during the last few hours of our drive. I checked into our rooms (because big families never fit into just one hotel room) and and we dragged our coolers, backpacks, pillows, Aerobed, and bags of food into the hotel.
We crashed for the next few hours, simply enjoying time to spread out, cool off, and watch cable (which we don’t have at home).
It was the start of a perfect family vacation.
When I think if MY perfect vacation, the image often includes tropical beaches, lounge chairs by the pool. My perfect vacation involves sleeping in and reading on a shaded porch. And frankly, those images rarely include children.
Traveling with kids is tough. Finding locations and activities that will entertain kids of multiple ages and NOT break the bank often feels impossible. I would love to be able to go to an all-inclusive resort every time the family went on vacation, but we simply can’t afford that luxury. Instead, we’ve had to be creative to find OUR perfect vacations.
7 Tips for planning the perfect (and cheap!) family vacation:
- Start locally – Find places to visit that are within driving distance to cut down on travel expenses. 7 plane tickets = OUCH! 7 people in a car for half a day = less ouch.
- Look for package deals – depending on where you’re headed, there are often vacation packages that roll in a day at a park when you book the hotel. Or better yet, book a hotel with a park built in. One of our favorite trips ever was last year’s camping trip to Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Resort. Because everything was included within the resort, we never had to get in the car. All the fun we could hope for was within walking distance.
- Head to the relatives! Yes, sometimes the best bet is to vacation where family is. Save on hotel costs and eat at home. Luckily, my in laws live in Florida, so we take advantage of that for vacations as often as we can.
- Look on deals sites – Often, travel and deal sites will post specials on vacations. Take advantage of coupons and discounts. While it does take some effort (you need to keep your eyes open constantly for the “right” deals to pop up, and sometimes must act quickly to use them) the trips and savings can be worth it.
- Involve the kids in the planning – Worried that the kids won’t appreciate the vacation you’ve spent so much time and money to arrange? Get them involved in the planning from the beginning. Older kids can even help to research cheap activities near your destination.
- Ask friends – Why reinvent the wheel? Ask friends where they have gone and what they have loved to do. Better yet, plan a vacation WITH friends. One of our favorite trips long ago was when we rented a small house with two other young families.
- Keep it simple – vacation doesn’t have to be full of exciting amusement parks and fancy hotels. Some of our favorite vacation experiences with the kids are the unique restaurants we encounter on the road, and the late nights lounging in hotel beds while we watch a move together.
How do you do it?” Series hosted by:
Join us again next week for another edition of “How do you do it?” Do you have any questions or tips that you’re eager to hear? Ask away!
What have YOUR favorite family vacations been? Where did you go? I’d love to hear!
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