6 Budget Vacation Ideas for Families

family vacation on a pier

You work all year long to accumulate two weeks of vacation time to spend with your family. It’s no surprise that you want to spend that time on an adventure. If you’re a hard worker who’s trying to save most of the money you earn, you might not have a huge vacation budget. Don’t give up on taking a vacation with your family! Try these 6 budget vacation ideas for families from the financial experts at Cash Factory USA.

1. Staycation

You might not think much of staying in your hometown as a budget vacation idea for your family, but many people haven’t even seen half of what their city has to offer. You can still create a vacation-like atmosphere by booking a hotel, but you don’t have to spend tons of extra money on a car rental or flights. If you think your city isn’t that interesting, visit the next city over to discover local attractions and tours. Many places even offer discounts for locals to improve your budgeting and save you even more money.

2. Camping Trip

three tents under the night sky

Most people don’t know it, but there are tons of local camping spots around many cities and towns. Do a quick search online for car camping near you and take your family out for a weekend of natural living. You can pack up everything you need for a glamping trip in your car — from coolers full of food and cooktops to blow up mattresses and luxury tents — or you can rough it with just basic gear. No matter what you plan to bring with you, booking a camping spot is a fraction of the cost of a hotel and you usually don’t have to go far to find a great spot for this budget vacation idea for your family.

3. Work for Stay

While this may seem unusual for parents who work full time, finding a ranch or farm that allows you to work for your stay can be more fun than you think. This seasonal activity allows you to visit a new place and learn about farming and ranching with your family. You won’t spend your whole day working on the farm either! Most include fun activities like horseback riding and rodeos as well as free time to explore the local town. Often, food and lodging is included for free or a small fee to help you stay on target with your vacation planning budget.

4. Head to Small Towns

lake michigan beach

If your family can’t resist the FOMO and has their hearts set on a beach vacation, you don’t have to go to the most famous beaches in America. Avoid Santa Monica in California and Key West in Florida. Head to smaller towns that still have beach access for a more affordable stay, less crowds, and a quieter vacation. Some of the best cities to explore for this budget vacation idea for families include:

  • San Mateo County, California
  • The Oregon Coast
  • Palm Bay, Florida
  • Jacksonville, North Carolina
  • Port Arthur, Texas
  • Atlantic City, New Jersey

5. Go During the Off-Season

Most places have much higher prices during the peak season to take advantage of all the tourists, but heading to popular destinations during the off-season is still a great experience. Head to the Grand Canyon in February or Hollywood in January to get amazing deals on hotels and still enjoy great weather. You’re paying a third of the price you normally would during the summer months, you don’t have to deal with 100 °F weather, and there aren’t any other tourists crowding up the most popular spots. Off-season vacations are the best choices for families who want to visit expensive cities while maintaining a low vacation planning budget.

6. Head to a National Park

sunrise at arizona national park

Our favorite budget vacation idea for families is heading to a national park. With 61 national parks across the United States, there’s bound to be one that’s close enough for you to drive to. Most national parks are free to enter (or have a nominal fee) and have great camping spots for cheap if you plan to spend the weekend.

Like our suggestions? Choose one of these ideas when you’re ready to start planning your budget vacation!