4 Spontaneous and Cheap Summer Family Trips

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Want to take a last-minute summer vacation, but don't have a lot of money? These cheap summer family trips will have you making memories in no time.Summer is right around the corner, so it’s not a bad idea to get your bucket list going.

Most people look forward to traveling during the summer, especially parents with kids who attend school throughout the year.

However, given the cost of airline tickets, hotel, food costs, and miscellaneous travel fees and expenses, the average family vacation can cost anywhere from $2,000-$4,000 or more.

That’s a lot of money to cough up just to spend a few days out of town.

On the contrary, if you haven’t planned your family vacation yet for this summer, or don’t have $2,000 to put down on a trip, there are plenty of last minute cheap summer family trips you can take.

1. Camping

Camping is fun, cheap, and a great way to bond with your family. It’s nice because you can spend as little as you like on the trip. If you don’t want to go out of state, you can camp somewhere nearby to save on gas.

Some campsites charge as low as $15 per night for county residents and $30 per night for non-county residents. If you rent a car, you might be able to find some good weekend deals. When it comes to equipment, you can always rent and borrow a few things you don’t want to purchase.

Whether you are bringing an RV or pitching a tent, most campgrounds will let you stay overnight for a super low fee. It’s also good to bring a lot of snacks and foods to prepare on your trip and take advantage of activities like fishing, hiking, biking canoeing, etc.

Camping is not only a great last minute family vacation to take because it’s cheaper than going out of town and staying in expensive hotels, but it’s also an interesting way to explore nature, slow down, embrace simplicity, and connect with your family away from pesky electronics.

2. Road Trip to See Family

Want to get out of town completely for a few days? If you have any family out-of-state, you should consider organizing a trip to visit them. If your family members have a guest room or extra space in their home, don’t hesitate to ask if you can stay with them during your visit.

Most family members would probably be happy to let you stay and spend more quality time together. By cutting your lodging expenses, you’ll have more money in your budget to pack food and snacks for when you travel, and contribute to food costs during your actual stay.

Check out the downtown area of your family’s hometown and look at the best museums, attractions, and shops. With your relatives being locals, they’ll be able to let you know what places are worth your money.

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3. Water Park Resort

Water Park resorts are pretty popular, but some are less expensive than others. Generally, the less well-known ones will be cheaper, but this is an ideal option because resort packages can help families save if they include lodging, admission to the indoor or outdoor water park, and any other snacks or attractions.

Last year, I was looking for an affordable mini-trip to take with my family during spring break and came across a Groupon for a water park resort visit that was only $50.

It included water park admission for the full day and arcade admission passes for four people, plus a large pizza. Not to mention the resort was only about an hour away. It was a no-brainer to check it out at a discounted rate.

4. A Weekend at the Beach

If you value comfortable lodging in a hotel, you might be able to afford it if you cut back on other expenses related to your trip.

If you do frugal activities and focus on relaxing over pricey excursions, a few nights at a regular hotel may not be damaging to your budget.

Spending a weekend at the beach is a nice way to get away and relax for cheap. There are many natural beaches around the country, and whether it’s a lake beach or an ocean beach, many are free to the public.

You can pack sandwiches, drinks, towels, sunscreen, and a beach ball, and spend time relaxing with your family on the beach for little to nothing. The hotel you stay in might also have extra amenities that you can take advantage of during your stay to enhance your trip, like complimentary breakfast, a pool, nightly entertainment, a spa, etc.

To reduce the price of your hotel stay, you can search for hotel deals online with Groupon, Living Social, or Kayak. If you use credit cards, you can also check your reward points or cash back to see if you have anything to put toward your room to reduce the cost.

If you sign up for certain credit cards and use them wisely while meeting a certain spending threshold within the first few months, you may even be able to score a free hotel stay for a few nights.

With credit card sign up bonuses, you need to carefully read through the terms to make sure you’re using the card correctly. Avoid carrying a balance each month to reduce the risk of credit card debt.

Consider Balancing What you Want With What you Need and Value

You may feel like you need a vacation this summer, which is pretty justifiable if you’ve been working hard and haven’t had the time to take too many days off.

However, you probably don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a trip. Taking a luxury cruise or bringing the kids to Disney World sounds like it would be a blast, but if you choose a cheaper trip, you’ll still get to relax and spend time with your family regardless.

If you value relaxation, travel, seeing new things, and just bonding with your loved ones, then focus on that when choosing your vacation this year; not the most impressive, priciest place (especially if you can’t afford it).

You’ll have more peace of mind taking a trip you can actually pay for in cash or rewards.

Do you have any summer trips planned? How are you budgeting for them? What are you go-to ideas for a frugal family summer vacation? 

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