family travel on a budget

Family Vacations on a Budget: Top 6 Ideas

A Cheaper Way to Vacation

With US GDP slowing and workers’ average hourly earnings down, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for families to afford their much-deserved vacation. The idea of visiting Europe, Africa or Australia is becoming a fantasy for more and more people living in the United States. But all is not lost.

If you’re worried about how you’ll treat your family to a memorable vacation this year, you’ve come to the right place. In this handy guide, we’ll explore six affordable vacation ideas - each offering a unique trip that you and the whole family will remember for a lifetime.

Keeping It Local to Keep Costs Down

The key to booking an exciting vacation with a limited budget is to keep it local. The United States covers over 3.5 million square miles of unique and diverse locations that are worth visiting. From Texas to New York, and California to Florida, our great country offers families like yours much to see and do. With over 350 million people to meet across more than 50 states and territories, you need never travel abroad again.

If you want to expand your travel horizons beyond the US border, the principle is still to keep it local. Countries in South America are close enough that transport is cheap, making them perfect for families looking to travel on a budget.

Affordable Vacation Ideas

Read on to discover six amazing vacation ideas that you can achieve on a budget.

Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is a great option for family-friendly activities. There’s nowhere better in the US to learn about democracy and our political institutions. Adults and children will love seeing the White House, Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

Being the center of our political infrastructure, Washington D.C. also offers free museums full of exciting exhibits and beautiful outdoor spaces for walking and reconnecting with nature.

This capital city also boasts food trucks on nearly every corner, providing tasty food at cheap prices. If you book far enough in advance, you’ll likely find a cheap flight too.


Family travels don’t come much more exciting or affordable than in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There’s plenty here that children will enjoy, including the Carnegie Science Center, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium.

Some of the subway lines here are free of charge too, adding to the affordability of this vacation option.

Yellowstone National Park

One of the best family vacations is a trip to Yellowstone National Park. It’s a unique attraction with an important lesson to learn about the natural world's power. Covering an incredible 2.2 million acres, visitors are offered unique opportunities to see geothermal features such as geysers and hot springs.

Yellowstone is one giant volcano, meaning that the landscape here is unique, to say the least. Expect luscious forests, blue waters, remarkable wildlife, flora, and fauna.

What makes Yellowstone so affordable is that the park offers workshops and tours free of charge. There’s also the opportunity to spend the night in a tent.

Niagara Falls

Looking for beautiful landscapes that the whole family will enjoy? Look no further than Niagara Falls. These three waterfalls straddle the border between New York and Canada and you can visit them without spending huge sums of money.

Visiting this natural beauty spot is cost-effective from the Canadian side because of the strong dollar exchange rate. If you visit Niagara Falls in spring or fall, you’ll be able to enjoy discounted hotel stays. Enjoy hiking as a family? There are lots of opportunities for this here - costing not a cent.

Hilton Head

If you’re looking for a chance to relax on the beach, consider Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. This island is host to clean beaches and expansive lakes. It’s sure to be a hit with your other half and children and offers an affordable chance to enjoy peace and quiet. The beaches and lakes on Hilton Head Island are free to visit.

Puerto Vallarta

It’s possible to find cheap family vacations outside of the US. Our neighbors to the south, Mexico, offer US families a fun vacation. Prices vary across the country, so choosing affordable areas is best. One such place is Puerto Vallarta in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

Expect to find beautiful beaches, whale-watching tours, resort towns and botanical gardens. The cost of living in Mexico is cheap, meaning that food, drink and experiences won’t break the bank. Puerto Vallarta is the perfect spot for cheap vacations you’ll remember forever.