Family Vacations for Under $1000

RelayRides blogger Amanda L. Grossman has some great tips for families hoping to head out on vacation without breaking the bank.

I think almost everyone has childhood memories from a family vacation. Whether your vacation was in the style of National Lampoon’s Vacation—quirky relatives, flat tires, and other after-the-fact comedic situations—or was smooth sailing, oftentimes these vacations create lasting memories that stick with us well into adulthood.

Taking your own children on a family vacation is one of the best ways to add to their memory bank that they will pull from for years to come. When you spend time with people away from routine, you learn more about them. Taking a trip together anchors your family by a common experience.

Fortunately for you, going on a family vacation is absolutely affordable (whether that means you leave this year, or next). Here are the things you need to remember in order to keep your family vacation under $1,000.

Location is Not Everything

Location may be everything in real estate, but it means nothing when it comes to family vacations. This is because you and your relatives can have just as much fun on a road trip as you will on a week-long visit to Disney World. The only thing that matters is spending time together in a different location, and you can do that within just a few hours of your home.

Keeping this in mind opens up a world of opportunities for your budget and your family. Where do people generally do weekend getaways near you? Is there an attraction that is too far away for a typical day, but that you have discounted in the past because of how “near” it seems when talking about a vacation? There are gems to be found within driving distance of your home.

There are Alternatives to Hotels

Aside from airfare, the hotel bill is probably the next biggest expense to tackle in order to keep your vacation under $1,000. I am here to give you a few alternatives to a traditional (expensive) hotel room.

Stay with Family and Friends: Have you received verbal invites over the years from family or friend members to come and stay with them, but haven’t taken advantage of it yet? Now’s the time to reach out and ask if the invite is still good. If you are afraid of imposing, then a long weekend trip will suffice, or string together two different invites so that you stay a few nights in one place, and then drive to spend a few nights somewhere else. Also, don’t forget to bring a host/hostess gift as a token of appreciation for them opening their home to your family.

Rent a Home: Have you ever heard of Airbnb or VRBO? Just like you can make Person-to-Person (P2P) car rentals with RelayRides, you can also make Person-to-Person (P2P) home rentals. It’s cheaper, more personal, and will give you more amenities than you can possibly find at a hotel.

Pitch a Tent: If you own two tents (one for the adults, one for the kids) or can borrow them from a friend, then it would be in your best interest to find a national park or other camping site near an area you’d like to explore. Camping is fun and bonding for so many different reasons—s’mores, ghost stories, listening to animal noises and birds chirping in the morning, campfires, etc.—not least of which is because you will save a bundle of money doing so.

Don’t Rent from a Rental Car Company: Not only is RelayRides on-average 40 percent cheaper than traditional car rental companies, you are going to love the convenience of not waiting in a long line and the beauty of selecting the exact, unique car you want. Plus, with RelayRides at over 270 airports and in around 1,900 cities nationwide, you will be hard-pressed finding a vacation locale without a RelayRides car for rent.

You Can Enjoy Homemade Food When Travelling

Got a hungry bunch of kids to feed? There are ways for you to save on costs while travelling. If you are flying, then bring pre-packed sandwiches and snacks for a meal at the airport to ward off expensive airport food. Driving? Pack an ice chest with breakfast and lunches for your first day out to save on two meals, as well as various snacks to stop yourselves from making lots of unhealthy convenience store purchases.

Once you get to your destination, find a local grocery store and purchase enough food to make a couple of meals in your hotel, rented home, or over your campfire. Add some spice to your experience by inviting your kids to cook with you in the kitchen, or having the spouse that cooks the least at home cook for the whole family.

You Can Travel in the Off-Season

Doing anything in the off-season, whether it be purchasing snow gear in summer, holiday decorations the week after Christmas, or buying sunscreen in the wintertime, will save you gobs of money. And travelling in the off-season is no different. Our extended family rents a house on the beach in Galveston once a year or so for a long weekend, and we do so for under $300 per family. This is because we rent in September or April when many families don’t do so because of school. In three years’ running, we’ve never had a problem with the weather (nor have we had to battle a crowd).

Follow these tips above and you will definitely be able to take your family on a vacation for less than $1,000. As for the memories, that’s up to you!