If your family vacation ideas and aspirations are much larger than your travel budget, check out these 5 money-saving vacation ideas that should help you put those lofty travel plans right within your yearly budget.
1. Plan your vacation in the off season. This may mean that you have to take the kids out of school for a week, but normally if you chat with the teachers you can arrange this. They may need to do some homework while away or even write up a report on what they do on their vacation, but you can usually find a way to make this happen. And the benefits are great because you'll avoid all of the summer vacationers. Try for a fall vacation, as a spring trip may put you out there with the spring breakers (definitely not a good idea!). There are many advantages to a fall vacation other than the obvious money-saving advantage. If you live in the south (Florida) like I do, you'll appreciate the chance to see some fall foliage which is just magnificent at this time of year. You'll also get to avoid crowds of kids everywhere at the places you visit, which is especially good if you are visiting a theme park.
2. Skip the hotel and camp out. Okay I'll let you know right off the bat that this is one money-saving vacation idea that I will take a pass on. However, others really enjoy camping, and so this could be a great idea for those. Some places even allow camping on beaches, which would be loads of fun. You'll have to pay a nightly fee but it will be WAY lower than anything you'd pay for a hotel. With all the great camping equipment that is available these days, you can get some super comfortable sleeping bags with comfy sleeping pads, and you'll almost be just as comfortable as you would in your own bed at home.
3. Enter "win a vacation" contests. Sounds cheesy, I know. But hey, someone has got to win, right? So, assuming it is free to enter (almost always is), why not search online for contests that you can enter and see if you might luck out and win a free trip somewhere. One thing to remember though is that, although these are normally legitimate contests, if you put in your email address you'll probably start receiving a bunch of junk mail so use a separate throwaway email for these contests.
4. Rent a house or apartment instead in lieu of a hotel. Now, this is going to be an idea for those who plan to go on a trip for more than a couple of weeks – say, maybe a month. If you plan to be away for that long, one great money-saving vacation idea is to check into renting a house, cottage, apartment, or condo for the length of your stay. This will be far cheaper than staying nightly in a hotel. You'll miss the maid service but the savings will be worth it.
5. Get together with friends or family and rent a beach house. Our family did this one year and it was one of the best vacations I ever went on while growing up. I live near the beach but not on the beach, and it is so amazing to be able to go to sleep with the sound of the ocean, and then wake up and take a walk or run on the beach. You can usually bring along your dog as well, which can be loads of fun for you and your pet. You'll normally find great seafood restaurants nearby, and you can have beach cookouts and bonfires. Super fun, and you'll save tons as compared to a hotel stay. As money-saving vacations ideas go, this one might be my favorite of all!