If you're looking for ways to have a great summer vacation without breaking the bank, you're not alone. More than ever, people are searching out family fun on a tight budget. With planning and a little creative thinking, you can make your summer break a great success!
Make it a “Staycation”
Make a real commitment to taking time off, even if you're planning a "staycation" instead of leaving town. Plan your time as you would any other vacation. Block out the week and don't allow interruptions from work, errands, or chores to creep in. Scour local event calendars for children's day camps, free concerts, local fairs, and more. Plan carefully so that you have activities lined up for each day. And don't leave home without the supplies you'll need, such as lunches, snacks, and bottled water. Buying those things on the road can rack up costs fast. Pack a cooler and enjoy summer fun!
Look in your own backyard
Discover outdoor activities in a nearby state or national park. Many of us never take advantage of the great opportunities right in our own backyard. Make this the year you try hiking, biking, rafting, and camping. Visit your state site to find nearby parks. Whether you make it a one-day outing or a weeklong camping trip, going back to nature can be a great way to have inexpensive family fun.
Day trips to attractions within a two- to four-hour drive can be fun ways to escape without the extra expense of hotels and meals. Look within a 200-mile radius of your home for amusement parks, zoos and tourist attractions. Pack a lunch and supplies and you're set. Be a tourist in your local area.
Look for deals
If you really want to get away but need to watch your budget, book your travel and hotel as far in advance as possible to get reduced rates. Search discount airline and bargain travel websites. Look into package deals. Many vacation locations offer bargains to travelers willing to book air travel and hotels together. Before you book online, call your local travel agency to compare what they have to offer. Ask about specials they may have such as "buy one, get one free" vacation packages. If you call hotels directly, you will often get discounted rates. Be sure to weigh total costs carefully before purchasing.
Whatever you do this summer, be smart and plan ahead. Establish a budget and stick to it. In the end, you can make any vacation time a smashing success with a little detective work and careful planning. Have a great time!
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Last Updated June 2014
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