In the best of times, it can be difficult for families to budget the funds to get away for a time of rest and relaxation, but that task proves to be even harder in today’s economic conditions. Thankfully, it’s not impossible. The following list of travel tips provides affordable vacation ideas for families who want to escape the rat race this year and enjoy a little time away together without breaking the bank.
Take a Stay-Cation
It used to be that family vacations meant packing Mom and Dad and the kids into the family station wagon or boarding a plane for a long cross country trek, but with the challenging economic times of the past few years, families are finding plenty of opportunities to get away within a day’s drive of their own backyards.
From state parks and theme parks to regional resort towns around lakes, beaches, or mountains, budget-minded travelers are finding plenty of opportunities to relax and unwind just a tank or two of gas away from home.
Talking with friends and relatives who’ve taken similar trips or searching for nearby family vacation destinations on the Internet can help you turn up some of these nearby family fun spots.
Take Advantage of Discounts and Special Offers
Just like the vacationers who visit them, the owners of hotels and attractions are very mindful of the recession and are offering special deals and discounts to entice vacationers to spend their hard earned dollars with them.
To find these special offers, visit the websites of the destinations, hotels, and attractions you wish to visit and look for a link to the page containing their current discounts and promotions. Additionally, placing a call to the destination can uncover any specials they have recently announced that might not have been posted on the website.
Although it’s not always possible, the ability to drop everything and go with a few days’ notice can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. While this may not be feasible for a family that has just a small window of opportunity to get away, families with small or home-schooled children and parents with flexible work schedules can take advantage of these last minute opportunities.
Though it does take some diligence – and the ability to make a quick decision — the Internet makes it easy than ever to find these deals. Travel comparison sites, like FareCompare.com and Orbitz track the latest deals and pass them along to their readers. Airlines such as Southwest Airlines frequently post last minute airfare and hotel packages online.
To be among the first to know when these deals become available, track sites that follow vacation deals and sign up for their newsletters or deal alerts. If you don’t like giving out your email information, you can also follow them on Twitter or Facebook. Just make sure to periodically check their posts and updates in order to take advantage of any time-sensitive offers.
Travel Off Season
In good times or bad, vacationers can save money and avoid the crowds by traveling off season. Peak times for family vacation destinations vary on location, but most are Memorial Day through Labor Day. Vacationers who visit outside of these dates can avoid fighting the crowds and paying peak rates that are associated with the busy season.
If vacationing off season isn’t an option, look into the possibility of travelling on weekdays during the peak season. Many resort towns fill up end-week through Saturday night, but are quieter on Sunday through the middle of the week and may even offer room and attraction discounts for these off-days of the week.
One word of caution, however, when traveling off season, some of the attractions may be offered on a more limited basis or not at all. Be sure to call ahead to verify which venues will be open and what their hours will be.
Don’t Eat Your Budget
Finally, one of the simplest ways to save while travelling is to avoid paying the inflated tourist prices for food. Booking a hotel room with a kitchenette or even a small refrigerator can help you keep and prepare food for simple meals or lunches to go.
Even theme parks offer in and out privileges. Getting your hand stamped and heading off-site for a picnic or even to a fast food restaurant outside of the attraction can drastically cut down on the costs associated with visiting the park.
Janet Sanders resides in the Ozarks near Branson, Missouri and writes about travel and affordable vacation ideas for families. Branson, MO is less than a day’s drive from one-third of the United States making it a convenient choice as a close-to-home vacation destination. For information on why you should choose Branson for your next holiday, visit http://www.ExploreBranson.com.
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