YOUR FAMILY WILL
You can have a great vacation without
breaking the family bank. With the proper
planning, anything is possible!
Draw up a budget
before your trip.
Ask yourself, “How
much can I spend on
Include costs for
lodging, and food, as
well as activities and
Sometimes, flying can be cheaper
Do the math to compare modes of
transportation to determine which
method of travel is least expensive.
Consider that you can explore more
when you’re in the car.
Calculate the Cost/Mile to Drive
Know how many miles per gallon your
out how much a gallon of gas
costs in your area.
the cost per gallon (#2) by your
miles per gallon (#1).
the result to determine the cost of
your trip, based on the miles you’ll be
driving. Multiply #3 by your total estimated
Lodging: Factors to Consider
Do You Really Need to Stay in a Fancy Hotel?
not going on
vacation to lie
around in your
room. After all,
you can lie
around at home.
The majority of
the time you’re in
a hotel will be
Once you turn off
the lights, you
can’t tell how
nice the room is.
Other options for
your money may
be a lot more
Instead of a high-end hotel, consider:
Cabins. They come in all shapes
and sizes and many have basic
Tents. With a good mattress, decent
weather, and shower access, $15
nightly may be all you’ll spend at a
Campers. If you have a vehicle with
a trailer hitch, rent a camper.
House-sitting. You can stay in
someone’s home at your destination
and enjoy free accommodations.
Bed and breakfast inns. Breakfast
is free and if you share a bathroom
down the hall, you’ll really save.
More Options for Lodging
College housing. During summer
months, check out university-housing.com
for availability of dorm rooms at your
Rent a house or apartment. You’ll save
on lodging and food.
Rent a room. Staying in someone’s home
in a spare room preserves your budget.
Stay with relatives. Consider staying half
the time with family and half on your own.
Inexpensive Food Options
Buy food at the store to
make your own meals.
Have a cooler on hand
for deli meats and
Bring your own
drinks, then order water
with your meals when
Stay in a hotel
offering a free
While camping, cook over the
campfire or on the cook stove.
Have fruit or cereal for
breakfast. Then eat lunch out
while exploring. Return to room
or camp for dinner.
Take a Staycation! Stay Home
• There’s no place like
• Eat at fancy
restaurants or get a
• Local and nearby
Budget Destination Locations
Locales like the beach, mountains, city,
lake, or simply road-tripping can be
wonderful, budget-friendly vacations.
It costs little to spend a day at the beach.
The beach pleases everyone. You can
walk, swim, sleep, read a book, or play in sand.
Other interesting things are near the beach, like
shops, museums, and art.
Do You Live Close to a Great Beach?
Consider these locales:
It has great bird-watching areas.
There’s plenty of golf, tennis, and fishing.
You can listen to live music while dining at one of the openair cafes along the beach and docks.
Decent hotels in the area can cost less than $100 nightly and
include free breakfast.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Cape Cod’s extensive seashore is located within driving distance of the
Bay side: excellent seashells and uncrowded beaches
Ocean side: enjoy surfing
Provincetown area: shops, museums, and active nightlife
Camp in the summer: sunny days, cool nights, and few bugs.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
The famous Haystack Rock, which is featured in several movies, is just
off the coast in the shallow waters.
The Emerald Forest is great for a day hike and claims the huge, 300year-old Sitka spruce trees. From the forest’s edge, you can see the
Local villages, beaches, and bluffs are perfect for exploring.
Many hotel rooms are priced less than $100 a night.
You may prefer the quiet and majesty of the
If you love cool air and day hikes, a trip to the
mountains might be a good choice.
Some mountain towns have many shops, great
restaurants, and other interesting tourist attractions.
Are You a Day’s Drive from the Mountains?
Check out these destinations.
If you want to be in the mountains but have plenty of tourist attractions,
this is the place for you:
Great fishing: hundreds of miles of trout streams
Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in Smokey Mountain National
Park at 6,643 feet, is nearby.
Numerous trails for hiking or mountain biking
Renowned for its shopping: If you can’t buy it here, you probably can’t
buy it anywhere.
Dollywood is only 10 miles away if you’re into amusement parks.
Variety of lodging options to fit any budget
Estes Park, Colorado
Home to Rocky Mountain National Park
Hiking, rock climbing, and white water rafting at their best.
It’s also a great place for viewing wildlife. It’s well-known for the many
bighorn sheep that roam the area.
It’s one of the most scenic places in the United States.
A multitude of lodging opportunities, from camping and cabins to deluxe
Mammoth Lakes, California
Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and a short drive from Yosemite,
Mammoth Lakes offers a wide variety of outdoor and scenic activities:
Fishing, hiking, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, zip lining,
horseback riding, and more
The largest unrestored ghost town in the US is also nearby in Bodie
State Historical Park.
Accommodations are available from camping to vacation rentals that
cost over $2,500 per night.
Big cities offer some low-cost lodging and entertainment. Do
your homework ahead of time to find low-cost options.
Many large cities have out-of-the-way, inexpensive inns.
If you’re willing to buy food to prepare in your room, you
can cut some costs to spend a bit more on lodging.
Some attractions have free days.
Big Cities to Consider to Save $$
Michigan City, Indiana & Chicago, Illinois
Michigan City has great beaches on the lake and a casino. Chicago is
just a short drive away.
Michigan City was recently named as the least expensive city in the
Famous museums of art, science, and natural history.
Architectural tours, including a tour from a boat that travels down
the river through downtown.
Great restaurants, sports teams, shopping, and outdoor activities
Home to Coca-Cola and the spectacular Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta is a
The Atlanta Botanical Gardens covers more than 30 acres and
includes a 40-foot high suspension bridge walk that gives the
experience of walking in the treetops.
The Children’s Museum of Atlanta is fun for those of any age.
There’s rarely a week that goes by without a festival of some sort.
The CNN studio tour is another popular attraction.
Atlanta also has a wide-variety of lodging options of many price points.
Camping is available in many nearby locations, but keep the climate in
Las Vegas, Nevada
Surprisingly, there are many family-oriented activities:
Shows suitable for children, including magic shows, circuses, and
acrobatic groups. There are also roller coasters, arcades, and more.
Mandalay Bay has a great outdoor beach and wave pool. You don’t
even have to be a guest, but you’ll have to pay for access.
Excellent opportunities for outdoor activities, especially hiking. Hoover
Dam is nearby, too.
Lodging to fit any budget
Going to a lake provides casual, outdoor fun.
Crater Lake, Oregon
Crater Lake in Oregon is the deepest lake in the United States, 1,943 feet
deep! The water is very cold and famous for its blue color.
Hiking, fishing, and bicycling are popular activities. Snowshoeing and
cross-country skiing makes a winter-time vacation fun.
Tour boats cruise the lake several times per day. It’s best to be in shape
just to get on the boat! It’s 700 feet down to the dock and 700 feet back
up to the rim.
Nearby, you can find horseback riding, river rafting, and several
museums. Camping, cabins, and hotel rooms are available. Camping is
limited to the summer and early fall.
Lake Champlain, New York
This huge lake has been pivotal in the American Revolution, the
French and Indian Wars, and the War of 1812. Several forts are
available for tours, the most notable being Fort Ticonderoga.
The lake is famous for its fishing, particularly northern pike. Boating
and swimming are popular activities.
All accommodations are available, from camping to fancy.
Table Rock Lake, Missouri
If you like the outdoors and country music, you’re set for a budget-friendly
Hosts the annual, 3-week Bluegrass and Barbecue Festival
The area is also famous for its catfish. Scuba diving, hiking, biking, and
kayaking are also popular.
The area is loaded with options for live entertainment.
The Butterfly Palace and Rainforest Adventure are also big hits.
Go-karting and water parks are also available.
Combining multiple locations makes a great driving
vacation, particularly if you live near a beach, a big city,
and the mountains.
After a few days walking your legs off in a big city, head
for a quiet, restful cabin by a lake for a few days.
Keep the amount you drive under control to ensure you
have a nice vacation and save money on gas, too.
times of the
Focus on Being Together.
you look, the
you’ll find a
More Budget Vacation Tips
it’s really all
A great vacation
planning a budget
vacation today and
your family will
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