These days it’s pretty expensive for just one person to travel (with airline tickets soaring well above the $500 mark and gas prices getting alarmingly close to $5 a gallon). That’s not even accounting for lodgings and meals. So how can you be expected to treat the whole family to a vacation when you’ve barely got the budget for one person? Well, you can’t stay in 4-star hotels, for one thing, and you may want to consider alternatives when it comes to transportation. But there are actually quite a few options for families that want to work in a summer vacay without the attendant costs. Here are just a few hints that will have the whole family maxin’ and relaxin’ this summer.
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Use travel miles.
You went out and got a credit card with a miles program, and yet, you’ve let the miles build up without touching them. Now is the time to trade in for travel. Use those miles to get an airline ticket or a couple of nights at an eligible hotel. What the heck are you saving them for if not your family vacation?
Visit family or friends.
You can easily cut your travel expenses in half by going to visit someone you know (and staying at their house). Although you may have to bunk on the couch or throw a sleeping bag on the floor, you’ll avoid the cost of hotels. Even better, you’ll get to see some loved ones that you haven’t visited in a while. And you’ll get a built in travel guide since they will probably be keen to show you some of the many attractions in the area they live in. The one caveat is that you shouldn’t make them pay for everything. You’re virtually getting free room and board while you travel, so make sure to clean up after yourselves, pitch in on the grocery bill, and take them out for a nice meal at least once during your stay.
When nature calls, you should answer with a camping trip. No matter where you live, there are bound to be beautiful, natural settings within a day’s drive that will offer you the perfect opportunity for a little R&R at a lot less cost. So pack up the family car, head out into the wilderness, and pitch a tent for a few days. Bring your fishing poles, that book you’ve been meaning to read, and plenty of marshmallows to roast over the fire. Even if you have to pay an arm and a leg for gas to get there, you’ll save on every aspect of the trip (from transportation to lodgings to food).
Try a cruise.
You don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars for that dream vacation to Venice or a 10-day excursion to Alaska. Take a short (3- to 5-day) cruise out of the nearest harbor and book early to get the best price. You could get adjoining rooms for you and the kids for as low as a couple hundred bucks each and food is included.
Stay close to home.
Most people don’t realize how much fun there is to be had in their local environs. Take a week off work and spend your time discovering local treasures for a lot less than traditional travel would cost. Visit museums, find a new hiking trail, or check out what’s going on at your community center. If all else fails, pack a lunch and go to the nearest lake for the day.