Whether you are a one income family by choice or necessity, one thing remains the same. The budget doesn’t necessarily allow for those expensive family vacations. But family vacations don’t have to be expensive to be fun, exciting and fill of memories. Here are some ideas for one income families.
Local and State Vacations
Never underestimate the power of state and local vacations. These can be extreme money savers. But they can still be fun. Some state travel agencies offer specials and discounts. Be sure to check these out before you book and plan the family outing.
There are so many things that can be done at the local and state levels that it would be hard to name them all. But here are a few ideas to get you started.
Don’t underestimate local parks. Family picnics are great cheap fun for families all year round. Some parks have events and activities especially during the summer months so be sure to contact your local parks to see if they have a list of events planned.
Some local parks have walking and hiking trails. This can be fun, entertaining and educational all in one. It is economical as well. It’s great exercise for the whole family. Have a hike or walk, then a picnic, then finish it off with some time at the playground.
State parks are a great resource for learning and for a little family fun. Most state parks have great walking and hiking trails and have many places for picnics and family outings. It would be a great place to hold a family reunion too.
Call your state parks office to see if they have summer and fall events scheduled and if you can get a copy of these events sent to you.
1.) Most cities have summer activities even small towns and villages. Make sure you contact your local chamber of commerce for any events planned that you might attend with your family. Most cities especially smaller cities cater to families on tight budgets so there is bound to be something for cheap fun for a family.
2.) Why not see about your state fair? Most states hold a state fair and would probably be well within the budget to attend.
3.) Local county fairs are another idea for cheap family fun. Ask your local agricultural department for more information.
4.) Local conservatories or arboretums are a good place to have a family picnic, outing or other family fun event.
Local Historical Sites
Many historical sites are cheap or even free. They are great places to get together with your family for fun. Many have picnic areas. Some historical sites have educational programs. They also may have entertainment like reenactments of battles and historical time periods. From civil war encampments to covered bridges, there is something that might interest any family member.
Camping needn’t be expensive. A good tent can be had for under a few hundred dollars. Some basic camping supplies could be sleeping bags, extra blankets, a first aid kit, a camp light and possibly a camp stove. Having a camp stove can significantly reduce costs of food.
Some campgrounds have teepees that can be rented for an even more fun camping experience. The teepees are usually affordable only costing slightly more than a regular camp site.
Call ahead especially in mid summer when the peak hours of camping are in effect. This way, you can be sure to get the best rates.
Camping Basics: Bare Necessities
When you go camping with the family and you are on a strict budget, it can be hard to decide what you will bring. But keep in mind the absolute necessities for camping.
A good tent is a camping necessity even if you plan to rent a teepee. Having one just in case is a good back up plan. But you don’t have to spend a fortune on a good one. A couple hundred bucks should do. Sometimes even less.
Maybe you could borrow a tent from a friend who goes camping. Look around. Some people have to upgrade their tents due to increasing numbers in the household or for other reasons. You might find someone willing to bargain with you on the price of the tent.
Although you might want to consider a separate tent for the kids, think about whether that is absolutely necessary.
A cheap light source could be as simple as a battery operated flash light. Just be sure to bring extra batteries.
Books and writing utensils (pen, pencil, crayons and a notebook) are a good thing to bring along with you on the family camp out. Decide whether you will be roughing it or just having a relaxing time. Roughing it would mean most technological items are left at home. That includes mp3 players, CD players, Laptop Computers and the like.
A lot of camp sites won’t have electric access so some of these things would be pointless to bring. You also might be so busy with hiking and building bonfires that you won’t have time to use these items.
Sleeping Bags, Pillows and Blankets
Tents (and teepees) aren’t usually equipped with built-in sleeping bags so sleeping materials such as sleeping bags, blankets and pillows are necessities. There is no need to buy any new fancy ones. Just bring the sleeping material you already own. That saves a lot of money.
Decide whether you want to spend extra money eating at restaurants or investing in some cooking equipment that will save you a bundle of money. The money you save could be used for more family activities.
You should buy a good propane cooker with the basic utensils such as a frying pan, pot, spatula and spoon. Make sure you can find a local store to buy canned goods or other foods. You could bring your own from home to save money. Non-perishables such as cereal, crackers and canned goods are great items to bring with you. Don’t forget the can opener!
Finding the Best Hotel for the Cheapest Rates
If camping isn’t your family’s idea of a relaxing time (too many bugs, too much wilderness) then consider a hotel in the area you want to travel.
Finding the best hotel rates is considered by some an art or science. But it doesn’t have to be hard to find the best rates. Just keep these tips in mind when shopping around for a hotel.
1.) Travel Agency: Use a travel agency to get the best rates. Or use a motorist plan such as AAA.
2.) Use travel coupons. When you visit a new state, they usually have a rest stop that has brochures, maps and other events that may be happening in that area. They also may have travel coupon books that can help you save money on hotels and other lodging.
3.) Shop around early. Many hotel rates go up at the last minutes. If you book early, you may also book the early rates (and possibly cheaper) also.
Just the Fun, Mom!
Sometimes just a local event will do. Other times you may want to travel a few hours. A one day outing with the family can turn out to the best day you’ve ever had and it doesn’t have to be expensive either.