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Budget Vacations
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Photo: Oliver Delgado
Want to get away and relax together but can’t afford a fancy vacation? By planning ahead and focusing on what’s most important to you about a vacation, families can enjoy quality experiences together.

The three main expenses of most vacations are travel, activities and food. Have a family meeting to pick the area that ranks highest for you. Then minimize expenses in the others.

To reduce travel costs consider destinations closer to home. If possible, stay overnight with friends or relatives. Or, if you really want a family bonding experience, try camping! You might also enjoy spending your vacation time making day trips from your own home. Check out new and interesting places to visit every day and come home to your own bed at night. Watch for coupons that give discounted prices at local attractions.

Many families like to visit museums and zoos because they are both entertaining and educational. Look for ones that operate on a “donations welcome” basis or have one day a week when entrance fees are waived or reduced. The internet is a great resource for finding this information. You can also purchase tickets in advance on-line for some activities. Then you’ll know your exact cost—no surprises.

How to Save

If you’re thinking about taking a package deal vacation, plan to go off-season when rates are substantially reduced. Consider vacationing with another family to share costs – but only if you know them well and have a strong friendship.

As for food, the least expensive way is to pack your own cooler before you leave home. If your trip is lengthy, stop at grocery stores along the way to restock your supply of fresh produce and ice. Also, look for hotels that include breakfast in their prices. At places which allow, bring a shoulder pack with favorite sandwiches and snacks and your own bottled water or fruit juice. Sometimes buying a meal for the family can cost as much as the activity you came for.

By planning ahead and making informed choices your family can enjoy a low-stress vacation doing things you really like without damaging your finances. And remember to take a few photos of your family playing and relaxing so you can reminisce together about your great vacation!

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.


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