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If you are as tired of this cold as I am, Spring Break is a great chance to go somewhere warm! As a mama of four (almost five), my first inclination is to skip the whole thing and stay home for spring break. A whole week of hearing I’m bored doesn’t like a vacation though, so it’s time to look for a frugal solution. If you are wanting to go somewhere fun but keep it frugal, here are some great options.
Now before you start dreaming up your vacation, set a budget. There is no need to go into debt for spring break adventures. See what you can comfortably spend and try to spend less than that. Once you have your budget, it’s time to pack in as much fun as possible.
Also know that if the budget you come up with is less than you want or zero, it’s okay! Your children are not entitled to a spring break trip. You can make fun memories, be an amazing parent, and stay home all week.
Ready to start planning? Here are some tips to help you get started.
Frugal Spring Break Tips
Stay At A State Park
My family often travels for workshops and we love to stay at State Parks. You can get a two bedroom cabin for around $89 per night. Look for State Parks with lakes, canoe rentals, hiking trails, and more. Many will even have games and events for the whole family.
Disclaimer: State Park cabins are not five star hotels. You get what you paid for, but we have always been very content and have never had any issues. They are always very clean and well maintained in my experience.
For an even more frugal option at that State Park, go camping! Now, keep in mind that camping requires a lot of stuff. You’ll need lanterns, tents, ways to cook food, ice chests, etc. If you don’t already have these items it may end up being more expensive than staying in a cabin. Once you make the initial investment though, you can enjoy many frugal vacations.
The great thing about camping at State Parks is that they have bathrooms and electricity. We love to cheat and bring power strips so we can plug more things in. Even cheaper… save gas and camp in your backyard.
Daily Deal Sites
Not up for the wilderness? Grab a voucher for a hotel. Groupon & Living Social always have deals on hotels. There are some really great options that include indoor pools, arcades, and more. You can also keep it frugal by looking for an option with a small kitchen. Being able to make at least one or two meals each day really saves a lot (even if the hotel room is slightly more expensive up front).
Team up with another family or two to maximize your trip and savings. You can rent a large house and split up the costs. You can also divide up cooking meals, planning games, etc. A huge added bonus is that the kids have additional people to play with. You can even trade off on babysitting.
Stay With Friends or Family
The best way to save on lodging is to stay for FREE! Pick a destination where you have family or good friends. You can visit with those individuals and have the added bonus of free lodging. You can even use some of that money you save to take your hosts out for a nice meal.
If you can handle a bit more cold, head to the mountains to go skiing or snowboarding. Everything from lodging to rentals will be available at a reduced rate. You can save even more by renting equipment from a local store instead of lodge.
Note: be sure to check the weather before picking this option to make sure the ski resort is still open.
If funds are really limited, have a staycation at home! Let me warn you beforehand: this option may leave you feeling exhausted. Driving around and planning activities for everyday sounds like more work than vacation to me, but if funds are limited, go for it.
Some ideas: be a tourist in your city, have family game night, plan a day trip, watch movies, and more.
Many colleges and some high schools offer alternative Spring Break trips where you volunteer. This may not be as relaxing, but it is a great way to get your hands dirty and gave back. You may need to raise support, but normally the trips are a few hundred dollars at most (including all expenses).
Not in college or high school? You can volunteer and even bring the kids along. Volunteering is a great way to fight entitlement in children.
Keep It Short
Can’t afford a full week at the beach? Just go for 3-4 days. Lodging is usually one of the most expensive parts of a vacation, so the less time you stay, the cheaper overall your vacation is. This also means you spend less on food, entertainment, etc.
To pack in more fun, remember that even if check out is at 10 am you don’t have to head straight home. You can still fill that day up with fun adventures and just drive home before bedtime. With small children this option does get more complicated, so be sure to plan ahead.
Look For Free Activities
There are free things to do at any destination! Look for free parks, concerts, festivals, land marks, and more. Free activities are one of the best ways to fill you vacation with fun while staying in budget.
You can also bring activities for the kids. For us that usually means Scrabble, craft supplies, and books.
Pack A Cooler
Plan on spending more than 3 hours in a car? Pack a cooler of food for meals. Even if you stop at McDonalds and everyone gets water, you’ll end up spending at least $20. Happy Meals may make your kid happy, but at $4-$4.50, it quickly adds up.
Of course, you could get everyone one thing off the dollar menu, but if your kids are anything like mine, they are not going to be happy without that toy… and everyone would be hungry again in an hour.
Are you planning a spring break trip? Please share your tips in the comments below!
You can go here for more frugal travel trips.