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Planning a Memorable Family Vacation

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Some of the best memories many of us have from childhood are centered on the family vacation. These road trips expose children to new people and places that open their minds and shape their worldview for a lifetime. While the upside to the family vacation is clear, the cost of actually getting on the road can be a real downer for parents.

Just think about it for a moment. When you take a family of four out on the road, you’ll be buying four breakfasts; four lunches; and four dinners every day you’re out. Throw in the cost of lodging and transportation and all of a sudden, your little getaway has become very expensive. According to a recent report in USA Today, the average family of four spends around $4,000 on a weeklong getaway.

While ponying up four grand isn’t realistic for most working families, crafting a memorable and affordable family vacation on a budget is still a possibility. Here are a few tips for planning a great vacation that won’t break your budget.

Picking a Vacation Spot

One of the best ways of getting around the high cost of travel is by avoiding those mega-tourist destinations like Disneyland that are designed to strip you of your money at every turn. Not only are these incredibly expensive, they’re hardly the kind of place where you’re going to relax and connect with the family. That’s why more natural vacation spots like Yellowstone and Bryce Canyon National Park are such great destinations for families.

National parks offer families a chance to reconnect with another in a quiet setting that’s far removed from the hustle and hype of big-time amusement parks. These locations also give families a lot more control over how much they spend.

When you’re out in the woods, you can bring along your own food and beverages that you’ve purchased at a regular grocery store. Compare that to the $6 hot dogs at Six Flags and you’ve got a pretty good deal going.

Where to Stay

Getting off the beaten path for your family vacation also has the advantage of opening up a few lodging options that aren’t available elsewhere. If your family likes roughing it a bit, camping out is definitely an affordable option when you’re visiting a national park. The key here is to avoid buying a lot of special camping equipment for the trip (unless you plan on camping out a lot.)

For families who don’t like roughing it, you’ll find that the hotels near Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone and other national parks are extremely family friendly and very affordable. We would, however, recommend booking these hotels as far in advance as possible if you plan on visiting during the busy summer month.

Save Money, Have Fun

An affordable family vacation doesn’t have to come at the expense of an enjoyable family vacation. No matter what your travel budget happens to be, you should always set a little bit aside for fun splurges. Whether it’s a big meal at a fancy restaurant or an afternoon boat rental, you’ll be glad you spent a little extra for something enjoyable.

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