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Six Cheap Family Vacations

Steven Gillman

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Cheap family vacations? Is that even possible anymore with the price of gasoline and everything else going up? Yes, relatively speaking. There are a number of ways to cut the costs. Here are six examples to get you thinking.

1. Vacation With Family Or Friends

If you have any family or friends in nice places, this may be the time to visit, especially if they are within driving distance. Apart from the costs to drive there, most of the other expenses will be for things that you would be spending money on in any case. If you and a friend both live in an interesting place, you might even swap houses for a week. If a friend has a cabin on a lake that you can borrow, that works as well.

2. Camping Vacations

If your kids like a bit of adventure and outdoor living, a camping trip can still be an affordable vacation. Just keep it closer to home to keep the travel costs down. There are beaches on the great lakes where you can camp for free, for example. The kids can swim and explore the woods every day. National forests are often free to camp in for up to two weeks. Find one with interesting sights and activities nearby. Borrow the tents and other equipment from friends if you can only afford a really cheap vacation. Bring your laptop computer and a few movies for rainy nights.

3. Hiking Vacations

Equipping you, your spouse and all the kids for a backpacking trip may not be practical. On the other hand there are many areas of the country where hotels are cheap and near hiking trails. One of them may be near you. Plan for interesting destinations, like waterfalls, caves and lakes. The kids probably won't tolerate just walking and taking in the view.

4. Amusement Parks

They may want to go to Disneyland or Six Flags, but they'll be happy with anyplace that has exciting rides if that is all you can afford. There are many amusement parks that have both roller coasters and water parks but don't cost as much as the more famous ones. Find one that is within a couple hours of you and buy a weekend pass for the family. Check hotel rates first to be sure that you don't lose in accommodations what you gained in proximity and cheap gate prices.

5. National Parks

National parks charge by the vehicle, not by the person, and The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is free to enter. List the three national parks nearest you, and look to see what they offer. Then look at the hotel rates in the towns within an hour's drive of the entrances to choose the most economical family vacation destination.

6. Family Vacations At the Beach

You can camp on the ocean in Florida for $24 per night. You can camp on some beaches of the Great Lakes for free. The hotels along Highway 2 in Michigan's Upper Peninsula are as cheap as $50 in September (and that's when Lake Michigan is actually at its warmest). Take a metal detector, so when the kids get tired of swimming and building sand castles they can hunt for treasure. There are also numerous cheap campgrounds on the beaches of Lakes Michigan, Superior, and Huron. You'll find these in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and in Ontario, Canada. Family vacations at the beach will usually be enjoyed and remembered by all.

Copyright Steve Gillman. Get the free Travel Secrets Ebook , as well as travel stories and tips, at


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