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Family Vacation Ideas on a Budget

YES Communities 05/23/2019

A vacation is a chance to get away, take a break, and experience something new with your family. This summer, avoid the expensive resorts or all-inclusive trips and try something different. We’ve put together a few ideas for family summer vacation spots on a budget so you can enjoy your time off without breaking the bank.

Head Out On a Road Trip

Instead of trying to pack everything you want to take on a trip into a small carry on or paying extra for a checked bag, load up as many suitcases as you can in the trunk of your car and avoid baggage fees all together. You and your family will have plenty of room to pack the essentials and you’ll also have the benefit of enjoying your vacation on your own schedule.

A road trip is an amazing way to see the country and will give your kids a new perspective on the sights and cities around them. Here are the best places to head to on your summer road trip.

Visit a Historic Downtown

The United States is full of history and there is plenty to cover from one coast to the other. A good place to start is Washington, D.C. Not only is this town steeped in history, and making history daily, there are numerous options for free attractions and museums. In total there are 13 free museums on the national mall, including the air and space museum, botanical gardens, and the mint where you can see currency being made.

Heading out of Washington D.C. you’ll pass through numerous other cities across the country with a history of their own. Whether you and your family decide to uncover everything a city has to offer is up to you, but often times a stroll down main street is a great way to slow down and spend time with family.  

Relax at the Beach

While a beach vacation may conjure up images of the crystal clear waters in the Caribbeans, there are other more budget friendly options across the country that still let you get a little sand between your toes.

If you’re traveling to the coast in the Americas, Galveston has multiple options for seaside activities and during the summer the weather can’t be beat. Located on the gulf coast, you’ll be able to choose from over 7 different beaches with most being family friendly. Galveston is also on an island, making it feel secluded from the mainland so you can really disconnect on your summer vacation. Just last year Galveston also added one million cubic yards of new sand along with new shower and bathroom facilities, so the beaches are more beautiful and accessible than ever!

Another great choice for beaches is on the East coast - Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Featuring 60 miles of beaches, there will be plenty of options for heading to the water or finding an inexpensive hotel for relaxing after a day in the water. If you want to spend some time away from the sand, there’s a boardwalk where you can enjoy the views or you and your family can head inside to the local aquarium and get up close and personal with some sea life.

Head into the Mountains

Summer is typically the off season for most ski resorts, so things will be a little slower depending on where you go. This makes it a great time to pop in for a visit and enjoy the lifestyle of a mountain town. The most expensive part of your trip will be lodging as the rest of your activities can be outdoors and free.

You’ll also find that there are other smaller towns just outside of the major resort areas. For example, Vail, CO is a popular destination and is known for lavish resorts and premier dining. Just around the corner though is Minturn, CO, a smaller town surrounded on three sides by the White River National Forest. You’ll find a scenic by-way with the historic Red Cliff Bridge and can spend time on the upper Eagle River fishing, canoeing, or just hiking along the water. Finding these smaller towns will get your family a more authentic mountain vacation experience and can save you money while you’re at it.

Book a Staycation

Not all vacations have to happen out of town. Often times there are plenty of things to do in your own backyard that are cheaper and even more fun than what you’d see by hopping on a flight. Here are a few ways you can enjoy a staycation at home with your family.  

Local Museums

Most major metropolitan areas have local museums you can visit where you can see and experience art, natural history, or something a little more unique. These museums will have rotating exhibits throughout the year, so you may even be able to catch a few before summer is over.

If anyone in your family is an animal lover, head to the zoo. With warmer weather you’re more likely to find the animals out and about instead of hibernating or hiding to stay warm.

Parks and Attractions

Whether you’re a family full of adrenaline junkies or prefer something a little more low-key, you can find all sorts of attractions in or around your town. If you live in Florida there’s the benefit of having Universal Studios nearby, but in other areas you can find local parks and attractions to keep you entertained.

This gives you the perfect opportunity to pack a cooler with lunch and head out to the park for an afternoon. If an amusement park is nearby, heading there will be much cheaper than flying across the country to visit somewhere like Six Flags. You can also keep an eye out for different attractions that come through in the summer. It’s a great time for the state fair and munching on funnel cake.

Atlas Obscura

Looking for something a little more obscure? Head over to Atlas Obscura’s website and see what sort of oddities you can find in your town. Some of the top destinations include sand dunes frozen in rock in Arizona, a natural oasis just outside of Austin, Texas, or a giant troll under a Seattle overpass. No matter where you are you’re sure to find something in your town that will give you a new perspective on its history or some fun facts to share with friends and family.

Look for Travel Deals

If you and your family are still really itching to head out of town, keep an eye out for travel deals. Booking sites like give you tips on when to buy so you can get the best price. Shopping around various travel sites will also yield different prices for the same hotels and flights, so spend a few minutes up front to save some money on your dream summer vacation.

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