If you want to create lasting memories, there's nothing like taking a family vacation. On the other hand, if you want to find yourself stressed times ten, oftentimes, there's also nothing like planning (and paying) for one. It doesn't have to be that way, though. The truth is that there are many affordable ways to enjoy time with your family when you have some time off. Here are five of them.
Seek out all inclusive deals. If you want to travel to another city, to the Caribbean, even overseas, it's definitely worth your time to check out which all inclusive deals are available. The term "all inclusive" basically means that you're shopping for a vacation that comes with a package. Some include your flight, room and board. Others have deals where you children can stay at a hotel and eat for free. There are dozens of different options. Your best route would be to go to a search engine and type in "all inclusive family vacation deals". Sales travel sites like Expedia and Orbitz are good starting points. LivingSocial.com is one too.
Don't pay for where you stay. Sometimes, getting on a plane with 3-5 people is enough to drain your entire travel budget. This is when it's wise to get creative. Consider renting a vehicle and going camping. Or have you ever considered doing a house swap? There are websites where you can check out some available homes all over the country like HouseExchange.com or HomeforExchange.com; however, if you have friends in other states (or even countries), you might want to ask them about their vacation plans. You might be able to stay, cost-free, in their California condo or London flat while they're away on a trip of their own.
Look for bed and breakfast spots. Something that provides the opportunity for great family bonding is taking a road trip to tour various bed and breakfasts across your state, region or even the country. A real benefit to this option, even over a hotel on some levels, is that a lot of bed and breakfasts actually have themes. Some are ranch houses where you can go horseback riding on site. Others are located closely to family-oriented activities. Little St. Simon's Island in Georgia is a lodge sitting on a 10,000-acre island that welcomes children eight years and up. The Crystalwood Lodge in Klamoth Falls, Oregon is great for hiking and mushroom hunting. There are even dog crates in most rooms so that you can bring your pet along. If you're east coast bound, consider a New York bed and breakfast or even one of their villas. BedandBreakfast.com features ones across the country along with customer comments and ratings. Oh, and remember one of the best things about a bed and breakfast is that breakfast is included with your stay and everyone gets to sit together, as a family, in a place that often resembles home.
Go after peak seasons and be creative. Going to a beach during spring break? Traveling to Disneyland (or world) during June? You're almost asking for the most expensive rates possible when it comes to booking travel and lodging. Think about going on vacation during the time when everyone else is not like maybe October or mid-February. Also, a part of the fun in a vacation is to do something that you've never done before. While planning the destination, ask everyone going on the trip what their fantasy vacation is and then hold a family meeting to discuss. See what affordable places have at least one thing that's on everyone's list. Once you find some places, start with the spot that's closest to you. It may surprise you that it may not be as common, but also not as costly, as some of the more popular places that are traditionally on the top of a vacationer's list. If you're stretched for planning time, there are websites like 1001-vacation-ideas.com that provide literally what they say they do.
Have a Stay-Cation. It might sound cheap and corny, but it doesn't have to be. If traveling is just not in the budget, you'd be amazed how many people have lived in their city and never toured it. Get out a local paper or tour guide and check out what's happening in your own hometown. If you want a change of scenery, book a couple of nights in a local hotel or perhaps at a suite where the entire family can comfortably stay and still bring groceries and cook (to keep the eating out spending to a minimum).