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How to Plan a Family Vacation on a Budget

July 16th, 2013 Personal Finance

Finding time to get away as a family can be a challenge. And when you finally do accrue enough days off to take a vacation, you may find that you just don't have the money to spend the week in Paris or jet down to the Caribbean for some time on the beach. Luckily, it doesn't have to cost a fortune to spend some family time in a fun, exciting locale.

Once the stars align - you and your spouse can both get time off, the kids aren't in school and you've got just enough change in your pocketbook to afford it - you'll want to keep these tips in mind for vacationing on a budget.

Driving versus flying
Depending on how far you're traveling, you may have the option to drive. While flying is faster, driving can be considerably cheaper - especially if you've got a big family. The cost of five or six airplane tickets is going to set you back quite a bit further than the cost of a day's drive.

Plus, a road trip can be a fun addition to any vacation. The drive doesn't have to be a chore - it can be part of the experience. Fun road games and yummy car snacks are probably fond memories from your childhood, so why not let your kids experience them, too?

Driving a bit out of your way can allow you to stop off at friends' or relatives' houses. You can stop in to say hi, or, if you're comfortable with it, you may want to consider asking if you can stay the night before hitting the road again.

Sometimes, a road trip can be so fun that it becomes the entire vacation. Look up sites within a day's or so drive of your home and see how many you can visit in a weekend!

Camping
Looking to get away from it all but don't want to drop a wad of cash on an expensive hotel stay? Consider camping! Camping is an inexpensive, fun and adventurous way to bond with your spouse and kids. With thousands of campsites around the country, you can choose to camp out close to home or head far away to an all-new locale.

Whether you prefer the mountains, the beach or the desert, there's a camping experience for you!

Spending a little time away from all that technology will probably be good for your kids, too. There's nothing quite like a night spend roasting hot dogs over an open campfire, staring up at the stars and sharing stories - and you have the whole experience for a fraction of the cost of some exotic trip.

"Staycation"
A "staycation" - a vacation at home - is an increasingly popular way for families on a budget to relax and bond. Your hometown may have all kinds of sites and attractions that you never even knew were there! Imagine all of the things that probably lie within a few hours' drive of your home - how many have you actually seen?

From natural wonders to amusement parks, you might be surprised by how much your hometown has to offer. Let each family member pick an activity to explore - like a day at the zoo, a trip to a fancy restaurant or a visit to the museum.

Sometimes, it doesn't take expensive airfare and a fancy resort to make your vacation a memorable one. Getting your family together can be a fantastic experience even if you do it on a budget.