Fun Family Vacations on a Budget

Enjoyable family vacations don't have to break the bank. Even families operating on a strict budget can enjoy downtime away from home by shopping around for the best deals. Good strategies for lowering the cost of family vacations include staying closer to home, staying for a shorter duration and taking advantage of off-season rates.

Local Campground or State Park

One effective way to save money on a family vacation is to eliminate travel costs like airline tickets, travel agent fees and hotel reservations. Almost every region in America has something to offer in the way of local attractions. By renting a cabin or pitching a tent at a local campground or state park, your family can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Often, attractions like these offer water parks or access to small lakeside beaches that are perfect summer getaways at a fraction of the cost of a traditional vacation.

Historic Sites

For families within driving distance of major tourist cities such as Washington D.C., a sightseeing day trip can cost only the price of food and gas. Many big attractions, such as the Smithsonian Institution or National Zoo offer free admission, and it's always free to stroll through a historic city or battlefield, photograph the architecture and read the placards 1. Coupled with dinner in a nice restaurant, this type of family day trip can be an educational and economical mini vacation.

Off-Season Rates

For families with their hearts set on a costly stay at a popular beach resort, a little online research can go a long way toward saving big bucks. By booking earlier or later in the year and avoiding holiday weeks -- like Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day -- families can save hundreds of dollars. According to the experts at, booking off-season not only saves money but can also result in fewer crowds and nicer hotel rooms.

A Longer Stay or a Midweek Deal

Wherever families decide to book their annual vacation, there is usually money to be saved by taking advantage of week-long special deals. Some resorts give discounts to customers who book a full five nights, as opposed to three. Others offer discounts for families who book midweek instead of on the weekends. By checking in on Monday and checking out on Friday morning, vacationers may be able to save substantially on accommodations. Call or check the hotel's website to get the best possible deal for your family.