10 ideas for a cheap family vacation

Create shared memories that will last a lifetime.

10 ideas for a cheap family vacation

Create shared memories that will last a lifetime.
  • The purpose of a family vacation is to create shared memories that will last a lifetime. Vacations serve to bind a family together. The purpose is not to spend all of your money. You can create a successful family vacation without breaking the bank.

  • Here are 10 ideas:

  • 1. Plan a "stay-cation" at home

  • Avoid the travel and lodging costs of a distant vacation, and become tourists in your own hometown.

  • 2. Go camping in a National Park

  • National Parks, not just in America, but around the world, are exceptionally beautiful places where you can camp at low cost.

  • 3. Rent a condo instead of a hotel

  • Using a variety of web sites including, and you can find vacation condos that offer nice rooms at a lower cost - all you give up is daily maid service. This can make vacationing in some exotic locations affordable.

  • 4. Swap homes with someone

  • If you have friends who live where you'd like to go, offer to swap homes for a week. You can also use commercial websites like to find someone willing to swap homes with you.

  • 5. Rent a minivan and drive

  • If you fly to your destination, then rent a car the trip can be devastatingly expensive. If you rent the car-perhaps a minivan, so everyone is comfortable - in your hometown with unlimited mileage, you eliminate the airfare and avoid putting 1,000 or 2,000 miles on your car in a week. Renting a car could be cheaper than driving your own car if you travel a far distance and get a good deal on the rental.

  • 6. Visit small towns

  • If you are an urban dweller - as most people are - a vacation to a small town "in the middle of nowhere" may be a great change of pace and the lodging costs and restaurant meals will likely be much lower. Just be sure to avoid the hot tourist destinations. Somewhere off the beaten path will be more authentic and less expensive.

  • 7. Stay on a college campus

  • Many colleges and universities have guest housing that is less expensive and offer higher quality lodging. If you travel back to visit your alma mater, this will have special appeal. My wife and I have spent many nights in the campus hotel of her university.

  • 8. Make it a service vacation

  • While international service vacations can be expensive for a family, spending a week in your own country volunteering service can be much less expensive - and much more meaningful - than a week at Disney World.

  • 9. Go to the beach

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  • While high end beach resorts charge a small fortune, finding lodging off the beach, but within walking distance, can be affordable. Your kids will never know they're not in paradise-if you don't tell them.

  • 10. Visit popular tourist places in the off-season

  • Most tourist destinations have peak and off-seasons. It is cheaper to visit many ski resorts in the summer, but the mountains still offer plenty to do. Beach towns in the winter are also less expensive and while playing in the water may be impractical, walking along the beach can still be a joy.

  • Your next vacation can be just as memorable as the last, but it doesn't have to cost as much. Just remember to have fun whatever you do!

Devin Thorpe, husband, father, author of Your Mark On The World and a popular guest speaker, is a Forbes Contributor. Building on a twenty-five year career in finance and entrepreneurship that included $500 million in completed transactions, he now champions social good full time, seeking to help others succeed in their efforts to make the world a better place.


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