The real secret to cheap family vacations is to be opportunistic. When a friend offers you their cabin on the lake, say yes. Can you have as much fun at the cheaper, closer amusement park? Then that’s where you need to be. Do the kids like the idea of cooking dinner over a campfire? Drive right on by that reastaurant. Find out what everyone really enjoys. It’s sad to spend MORE on a trip for LESS enjoyment.
Examples Of Cheap Family Vacations
In Michigan, and many other places, you can find reasonable motels on the beach. Cheaper, and usually more scenic, are the numerous campgrounds on the beaches of Lakes Michigan, Superior, and Huron. You can find these in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and in Ontario, Canada. Below are a couple beach-based vacation ideas.
Treasure Hunting Vacations
Two metal detectors will cost less than a few nights with the family in a hotel. Why not camp near a ghost town or beach, and spend your days hiking, exploring, and hunting buried treasure? We always find interesting things when we take our metal detector to the beach. The kids will love the adventure, and when they get bored with digging up quarters, they have swimming nearby.
This is cheap, and the whole family can enjoy it. You can find all sorts of things washed up on the beaches of the Great Lakes and the Oceans. In Michigan, we used to find bouys, parts of houses, and light bulbs. The light bulbs actually worked, a mystery solved years later when a sailor told me they throw them overboard for target practice. We were finding the ones that escaped the bullets.
We also found chunks of coal that had fallen off freighters. We burned them in the campfire. We found balloons with messages attached, sea shells, fossil rocks, odd-shaped driftwood, pieces of styrofoam big enough to use as rafts, and – you get the point.
If your family is willing to live in tents for a few days, or if you already own an RV, camping is the cheapest of cheap family vacations. We recently stayed at Williams Landing in Florida for eight days. We stalked alligators, watched armadillos walk through camp, saw a dozen other forms of wildlife, and sat around the fire trading stories with new friends from England and Texas every night. The cost, including the hot showers: zero. Woodall’s catalog, available at any big RV dealer has listings of free campgrounds.
Other Cheap Family Vacations
How about a Montana testicle festival? Festival vacations can keep the whole family happy. You’ll usually find carnival rides, music, events, contests, and more. By the way, Montana’s testicle festivals are billed as family events, but good luck trying to get the kids to eat the “Rocky Mountain Oysters.”
Boondocking is all about parking your recreational vehicle where you don’t have to pay. If you aren’t sure that kids will enjoy being in the middle of nowhere, find a ghost town or other treasure hunting locale. In Arizona, an old Mayan Indian showed us where to look for arrowheads, semi-precious stones, and ancient pottery. The desert is a great place to escape to in the winter, and treasure hunting is cheap vacation as well.
There are many more cheap family vacations, and many ways to keep any vacation cheaper. Stock the cooler with 25 cent pop instead of paying pop-machine prices. Keep the kids full on healthy snacks to avoid restaurants. Be an opportunistic vacationer.