Get Away With the Family Without Breaking Your Budget

by Country Inns & Suites
Sunday, January 3, 2010

A family trip is a great chance to spend quality time with the kids and recharge your batteries. Although costs can be prohibitive, there are many ways to make a destination more affordable. The key to a memorable family vacation isn’t an unlimited budget; it’s simply planning ahead.

Use these tips to get your next family getaway off the ground:

  • Park It. State and national parks offer terrific activities including hiking, trail rides, and wildlife watching. Save money by skipping park lodges in favor of hotels outside of the park.
  • Stay slightly off the beaten track. Major cities offer wonderful cultural attractions, but hotel rates can strain the family budget. Consider staying in a nearby suburb within easy driving or public transport distance from the city.
  • Save by eating at the hotel. Many hotels, such as Country Inns & Suites, feature complimentary hot and cold breakfast buffets that save a bundle. Remember to book a room with a microwave and fridge, so you save on snacks for the kids.
  • Plan to visit friends and family. The best way to see a new place is with a local. By incorporating visits to friends, you’ll see new sights and enjoy a few play dates and home cooked meals along the way.
  • Consider the unexpected. Vacationing at a mall? Why not, if it’s Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. One of the most popular family vacation attractions in the country, the mall offers tons of family fun, like the Park at MOA, Underwater Adventures Aquarium and the LEGO store. Prices range from free to $25, unless you go crazy shopping and there are many great hotels nearby.
  • Avoid the crowds. Take the back roads. Stop at smaller attractions along the way. Can’t make it to Disneyworld in Orlando? How about Sesame Place outside of Philadelphia, Kennywood in Pittsburgh or Astroland in Coney Island? Taking the road less traveled can save money and deliver a more authentic experience for the whole family.
  • Last one in the pool. Little ones can’t tour all day. Be sure the hotel has a swimming pool to give the kids the chance for some unstructured fun and exercise. There might even be a whirlpool and sauna for mom and dad.
  • Keep it simple. Kids’ fondest memories often consist of spending quality time with their parents and sharing laughs together. Keep picnic supplies handy, and eat outdoors at nearby parks, lakes, botanical gardens or major highway rest stops en route. Be flexible. Remember it’s about the journey, not just the destination.

For more budget-friendly tips and ideas for family travel, visit www.countryinns.com.

With more than 965 locations in 70 countries, including Radisson Hotels & Resorts and Country Inns & Suites, Carlson Hotels Worldwide is a leading authority in leisure and business travel.

Courtesy of Family Features