I haven’t been on an honest-to-goodness family vacation since I was in middle school and went with my grandparents. Through my teens and 20, vacations weren’t much of a priority, but now that I am in my 30s with a family, I want the kids to experience a family vacation.
We are trying to save for a down payment on our first home, so that doesn’t leave a lot of room in our budget for extravagant vacations, but with some careful and frugal planning, we can still get away for a few days and create some great memories for our kids.
I have always said that my idea of camping includes a motel room with nice linens. But looking at hotel prices for a family of five with two dogs, I am reevaluating my aversion to camping. A campsite will run us less than $50 a night, and there are a lot of modern conveniences available for tents and camping in general. From air mattresses to ceiling fans, you can camp in as much comfort as your wallet will allow. Many campgrounds also offer cabins, which can be more economical and pet -friendly than a hotel. Check the amenities carefully though because they range from air conditioning and full kitchens, to no screens on the windows and sleeping on a wooden slab.
Since we do travel with pets, checking ahead for pet-friendly activities is key. We are looking at traveling to the badlands of South Dakota this year, and not only are there countless trails and outdoor activities, you can even take your furry friends to attractions like Reptile Gardens. Mt. Rushmore is NOT pet friendly, so it looks like my husband will be sitting that one out in the car with the dogs.
Eating out can be a major component of a vacation budget, so by planning ahead and packing a cooler your family can eat much cheaper. From good old peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to something you can throw on the outdoor grill, the budget-friendly possibilities are endless. Don’t forget beverages! A self-filtering water bottle for each family member can be an economical choice because you can refill it anywhere, and still be drinking clean, filtered water.
A small budget doesn’t have to kill your family vacation this summer. With some creative thinking and planning ahead, you can still make your summer trip a memorable one.