It’s summer vacation time and, boy, do I have my share of wild and crazy family vacation stories! Whether we were riding in an RV through downtown San Francisco’s steep grades (my poor father!), hiking through Alaskan bear country at dusk singing at the top of our lungs (yikes!) or taking in an opera in Vienna, Austria (that’s more like it!), my parents always made sure we experienced the world. They also showed us that it’s possible to do it all without busting the bank. Here are a few things I’ve learned about getting a lot of vacation for a little money:
- Rent a house. It’s usually cheaper to rent a house for a week than it is to stay in a hotel. Sites like Vrbo.com are a great help. Once, we rented an Italian manor to fit seven people for a week in the Tuscan hills. The cost: $800.
- Go camping. Our U.S. national parks are truly amazing places to camp. I’ve seen more than 40 of the 58 parks, and each one is special. Check out nps.gov. You can purchase a parks family pass for $50 per year. Then pack up the gear (get it used on craigslist or ebay) and get out there.
- Visit daily deal websites. Sites like restaurant.com provide restaurant deals in the area you’ll be visiting.
- Buy an Entertainment coupon book. Buy one specific to the area you plan to visit and it will also work as a mini-guidebook! entertainment.com
- Ask a local. The people who live in an area know where you can avoid expensive tourist traps and get the best value for your money.
- Take a picnic. There’s nothing more memorable than heading out into the mountains for an alfresco affair.
- Enroll in rewards programs. My husband and I racked up $3000 worth of rewards in just a year as newlyweds thanks to some wise planning.
- Have it all covered on a cruise. Cruises are cheapest a year before or within a month of sailing. We purchased a 13-day family cruise from Florida to Rome for just $550/person because we booked it a year out.
You don’t have to spend your life savings to build lasting memories with your family. Life is too short to use money or time as excuses. Don’t miss your opportunity. Share an adventure with your family!