Family vacations are often portrayed in media as being a staple of family life, but rising prices have caused the number of people taking vacations to decrease in recent years. While there has been a resurgence resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is likely that the number of people traveling will fall further in coming years. Therefore, learning how to plan both a fun and cheap vacation is a great way for everyone in your family to satisfy their travel bug so gather all the cheap family vacation ideas and then choose the best one.

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Average Cost of a Vacation in 2023

As mentioned above, the average cost of a vacation is not as cheap as it was in the past, but that raises the question of how expensive is the average vacation now? While you can expect the cost to vary drastically depending on what you do and where you go, the average cost for a one-week vacation for a solo traveler alone is just over $1,500. 

While some factors related to this price may stay constant for a family, such as hotel room cost, there are other factors that can quickly add up. Therefore, breaking down this all-in cost can be beneficial for building a budget. 

Breakdown of Vacation Prices

Generally, there are a few different categories to consider that go into this $1,500 cost. The primary categories include:

  • Transportation costs once you arrive in your destination
  • Accommodation costs such as a vacation rental or hotel
  • Daily food costs
  • Entertainment or activity costs

In most cases, accommodations and transportation will be the two greatest spend categories due to rising prices for flights and hotels, with average prices of $330 and $157 per night respectively. However, food can cost as much as $60 per day for a single person, let alone for a family with growing kids. Considering this price breakdown, it’s important to start learning how to develop a budget so that you can have a fun vacation without thinking of money. 

Budgeting Tips for Follow When Planning a Vacation

Your budget should be the guiding factor that determines where you go for your vacation. The following tips can help you start to build your budget quickly so that you can decide on your destination: 

1. Book as many activities in advance as possible

First and foremost, chat with your family to see what activities everyone is looking forward to. Those looking for adventurous activities, as an example, could enjoy a helicopter tour of the Bronx in New York City or a backpacking trip in one of the national parks in the country. By deciding on activities ahead of time, you can book them in advance and factor the cost into your budget so that you already have some insight into what you’re spending. 

2. Create a dedicated savings account for vacation funds

Those who have the desire to travel often should already have a travel account setup that they deposit funds into on a monthly basis. While the deposits into this account should come after deposits into personal savings and investments, putting your leftovers into a dedicated vacation account can give you a nice amount of money for your upcoming trip. 

3. Travel out of season to avoid higher prices

While most families often travel during the times schools are on break, such as during summer or for spring break, it’s worth traveling to a location in the off season if you can. By doing so, you can save money on transportation costs and general costs once you arrive as tourist pricing won’t be in effect. 

4. Make use of public transport

Once you are in a destination, assuming you are strapped for cash in your budget, consider making use of public transportation as opposed to using rideshare services to get everywhere. While rideshare platforms are convenient, they are also quite expensive. Many cities around the world have built up transit systems that allow you to get to a number of places in a destination quickly.  

5. Choose to stay in alternative accommodations

In some cases, the price of staying in a hotel may be too much for what you can afford. In this situation, you could consider staying in vacation rentals in the Poconos instead, which is simply a home or apartment someone rents out for the short term through platforms such as Airbnb. Define what you can afford for accommodations to factor the cost into your budget. 

How to Decide Where to Travel for Your Next Vacation

With a budget built and a maximum spend outlined, you can finally decide where you want to go on your trip. For international travelers, New York City is one of the most popular destinations for both families and solo travelers. Beyond this, use the following points to determine where you want to visit: 

1. International vs. Domestic Vacation

For those with a larger budget, consider traveling internationally to see a new country you’ve never been to. However, if your budget is more limited than you should consider staying within the country and simply visiting a new state. 

2. Road trip vs. Flying Vacation

Second, depending on your budget, you should determine how far you wish to go. Those staying in the United States could consider a cross-country road trip which can be cheaper than other options, or they could consider flying somewhere if the budget allows for it. 

3. Activity vs. Leisure Vacation

Finally, the type of vacation you’re looking for will have a massive influence on the destination you pick.  If your family is looking for adventure, then visiting the backcountry and participating in outdoor sports, such as parasailing in the Cozumel Islands, might be the perfect way to satisfy their adventurous spirit. For leisure, cities by a beach are always an excellent choice for families of all ages. 

The Bottom Line

If the price of the average vacation is too expensive for your budget, rest assured knowing that you’re not alone. There are a large number of people who can’t afford all the bells and whistles of a modern vacation, but this doesn’t mean you can’t travel. Use the above tips to build a budget for your vacation and decide where to travel in order get your next vacation on the calendar as soon as possible. 

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