9 Affordable Family Vacation Destinations You Must Visit

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So you need some affordable family vacation destinations for your family?

Vacations can get expensive!

We save and budget and still end up spending thousands of dollars and sometimes the vacation isn’t even as good as we thought it was going to be.

Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of some amazing vacation destinations for you and your family.

These are long on fun, beauty and relaxation, but short on being costly.

So today, we’re looking at all the best tips on vacation planning for the budget-conscious. We’ll not only explore the best times to plan, the best sites to book travel through and the average travel expenses people are paying.

But specifically, we’re looking at the best and most affordable family vacation destinations for you to consider.

That way you can put aside budget concerns and just get about the business of having fun!

Fear not!  Affordable family vacation destinations do exist and you can make it happen this summer!

I hear you!  This year my wife and I just had our 3rd child.  We also had to replace both of our vehicles in the past year and a half.  The baby means eventually my wife has stopped working for a while.

Thus we’re pretty strapped financially.

But being on a tight budget, not having saved much for a vacation but not wanting to use debt to take one doesn’t mean affordable family vacation destinations can’t be found!

When budgets are tight and expendable cash is low, we just have to be more intentional with our planning.  We have to shop around and look at multiple options.

We have to be realistic; a trip to Disneyland is not on the table for the Campbell family this summer as much as we’d love to go there!

I have covered other aspects of vacationing on a tight budget before, so you may want to also check out my post called 7 Ways You Can Have a Great Vacation on a Budget.

Campbell family at Cars Land in Disneyland affordable family vacation destinations Middle Class Dad

The perils of putting off vacation planning until the last minute

I know.  As much as we want to plan 6 months or more ahead of time, all too often we wait till the last minute.

Earlier in the year, I posted specifically about the importance of planning ahead for summer vacations, so I highly recommend you check that post out called 7 Summer Vacation Planning Steps Your Family Needs to Know.

Whether you’re looking for cheap vacation destinations or not, it can still help with your planning this year.  AND if you bookmark it, it can help with next year too!

But planning at the last minute doesn’t mean that affordable family vacation destinations don’t exist or are all booked up.  It just changes how we go about looking and booking them.  Many places don’t fill up and the closer it gets to go time, the more likely they will be to offer some great deals!

The terrible truth about vacationing during major holidays!

My wife is a teacher so she pretty well gets the whole summer off as do our kids.  However, where I work, we only close the week of 4th of July.  Thus, if I want to take any large amount of time off, it has to happen during that week.

Guess who else goes on vacation around the 4th of July?

That’s right; most of the rest of the world!  Now I’ve done Disneyland during that week and we had a blast.  But it’s not cheap and it is crowded.  So if we are looking for affordable family vacation destinations and that is the week we can go, we have to get creative!

We have to take the road less traveled, to paraphrase Robert Frost.

In other words, we have to think outside the box and look for places that might not be on everyone else’s radar.  Little known gems that aren’t highly sought after and thus not going to break the bank.

empty beach with the sun overhead and the remnants of an old dock on the sand affordable family vacation destinations Middle Class Dad

Think affordable family vacation destinations don’t exist, are still out of reach or all booked up?

Think again!  Pricing on all aspects of a vacation; airfare, hotel, family auto rental, and gas are all based on 2 things.  Supply and demand.

When supply is low (like a hotel that is 95% booked up) and demand is high (like everyone wants to go to Disneyland), you can bet that destination is going to be expensive.

So while Disney tickets are in high demand and low supply, there are lots of other options that will be more in your favor.

Think about off-season places. Perhaps choose a mountain destination instead of a beach?  Maybe camping at a state park instead of the highly sought after Yellowstone and Yosemite destinations?

Seattle CityPASS ad affordable family vacation destinations Middle Class Dad

Every year, American Express releases its GLOBAL BUSINESS TRAVEL FORECAST.

In that report, they take a look at air, hotel, and rental car and make projections world-wide about supply, demand, and pricing for the coming year.  In the most recent report (linked above) you can see some current takeaways like:

  1. Car rental rates are expected to stay flat in the US (so renting a car might make more sense than flying when money is tight)
  2. Airfares across Europe & Asia are also expected to stay flat
  3. Hotel prices are expected to remain flat except in Latin America where they will drop

Check out this handy infographic from American Express for additional details!

American Express travel infographic affordable family vacation destinations Middle Class Dad


So what are my . . . 

9 Affordable Family Vacation Destinations You Must Visit?

1. Charlottesville, Virginia

Known primarily for Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello as well as what he called the “Academical Village” (the University of Virginia).

However, in recent years, Charlottesville has also become a popular destination for its craft breweries and it’s historic downtown mall (an outdoor pedestrian mall that rivals any in the nation); feature amazing shopping and restaurants in a historic setting.

Save up to 80% when you book your next flight through JustFly!

2. Salt Lake City, Utah

Float with ease on the salt lake (the salt content makes floating easier) while surrounded by mountains, listen to “America’s Choir”, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, check out their world-class zoo and visit Temple Square; the city’s most popular tourist destination.

The temple is not open to the public but some of the surrounding buildings such as the Family History Library are open to the public.  The Library is free to the public and hosts one of the most extensive genealogical databases anywhere; discover your entire family tree going back hundreds of years!

Enjoy a cozy vacation home rental and skiing in Salt Lake City, UT. Reserve Now at TurnKey Vacation Rentals.

3. San Antonio, Texas

You’ve got The Alamo (don’t go down to the basement), the River Walk, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Sea World, world-class museums and zoo and so much more!

Outstanding food, shopping & culture and only an hour from Austin if you want to pop over to the Capital City.  Check Travelocity for hotel rates as low as $127/night for a 4-star hotel!

4. Washington DC

What else do you need?  The United States’ most culturally rich city and our most treasured monuments.

But you’ve also go the world-class Smithsonian Institute (do the exhibits come alive at night?) including my childhood favorite; the Air & Space Museum.  Check out the best hotel deals around at Trip Advisor!

5. Charleston, South Carolina

In Charleston, you have it all!

Culture, great food, excellent shopping and outstanding beaches.  You’re also a short drive from the state Capital in Columbia.  Stay in a suite courtesy of Travelocity for only $109/night!

6. Nashville, Tennessee

Austin and Nashville may have to duke it out for the title of music capital of the world, but there’s no denying Nashville’s music scene!

Live music abounds as does a rich music culture and history.  Beyond that, you have delicious food, Opryland and a full-scale replica of Greece’s Parthenon!

Enjoy Music City – Vacation Rentals in downtown Nashville from $70 at TurnKey Vacation Rentals.  For those of you personal finance fans (like me) pop in to watch Dave Ramsey do his radio show live, get a chance to meet him and enjoy all the free hospitality in his waiting area.

7. San Juan, Puerto Rico

Get some outstanding prices on vacation rentals thru FlipKey by Trip Advisor!

Stay in a 2 bedroom house on the beach for a little over $100/night! If you’re a US citizen you don’t even need a passport to travel here since it is a commonwealth territory.

Flamenco beach is considered one of the best beaches in the world!  Plus you’ve got outstanding food, people, culture, and music!

8. Las Vegas, Nevada

Once nicknamed “sin city” Vegas these days is both family friendly (in most places) and a culinary mecca for outstanding food!

Entertainment galore and because they hope you’ll spend most of your money gambling, the amenities are surprisingly affordable!

Enjoy almost full-scale replicas of the Eiffel Tower and New York, New York’s NYC skyline replicas.  Amazing water shows, and performances from some of the most popular entertainers in the world!

Trip Advisor has all the best hotels for less including 4-star hotels from only $29/night!

9. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is my family’s favorite place on Earth!

I’ve been 5 times and my family a total of 4 times.  We’ve mostly been in the state of Guanacaste (the northernmost state on the Pacific side), but we’ve also traveled south some as well.

Get amazing deals on specific flights or even name your own price on flights through Priceline.com!

Outstanding food, amazing beaches, zip-lining through the jungle, friendly people, rain-forests, mountains, and abundant wildlife are just a few of the reasons to visit.

It’s also one of the most ecological countries on the planet and these peace-loving “ticos” abolished their military in the 1940’s to just live in harmony with nature and each other.

Want more on amazing Costa Rica?  I love it so much I did an earlier post about why you should Visit Guanacaste Costa Rica  That post is well worth checking out for more details.

Did I cover everything you were looking for with affordable family vacation destinations?

In this post, we took a detailed look at the world of family vacations and the best ways to save money and still have an amazing time.

Specifically, we looked at the very best affordable family vacation destinations; places you and your family can go that won’t break the bank and will still leave you with precious memories for years to come.

If you like this post, please consider sharing on Facebook, because if it helped you, it just might help someone else!

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affordable family vacation destinations Jeff Campbell Middle Class Dad bio

Photo credits (that aren’t mine or which require attribution):

Folly Beach by daveoratox is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Condado Beach, San Juan, Puerto Rico by Breezy Baldwin is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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