6 Tips For A Budget-Friendly Summer Vacation or Spring Break Trip

The polar vortex is bearing down upon us. My daughter has had a very long impromptu break from school. The house is a disaster. And I am completely EXHAUSTED. So I have decided it’s time for a little positive thinking. OK–a lot of positive thinking. And what could be more positive than summer vacation? So here I am, thinking warm thoughts, while planning our summer vacation. 

Summer vacations or spring break trips can be amazing without breaking the bank. For us, it’s about spending quality time together, while visiting a new place. With five family vacations under my belt, I have found these six tips to be a life-saver for planning a fun, budget friendly vacation. 

Six Tips For A Budget-Friendly Vacation 

1. Travel Time

The longer you spend traveling, the less time you have to enjoy your destination. My husband and I have decided that our maximum hours of travel in any direction is six. Luckily, there are several vacation spots within a 3-4 hour radius. Perfect for a three night stay.

2. Transportation

A road trip is very a cost effective means of travel for a family of four. We do splurge on a van rental, which may seem like an unnecessary cost, but for us there are two distinct benefits. First, it provides the necessary space to fit all of us and our luggage easily. Second, our vehicles are not incurring the extra mileage. Thus, keeping our cars in optimal condition for the longest life possible with the least amount of repair expenses.

3. Road Trip Activities

Our local library is always my first stop. There are plenty of audio books and soundtracks available for all ages. Disney sing-alongs and Dr. Seuss books are now imbedded into my subconscious! Pinterest is great for easy, DIY road trip activities. We also pick up a few items from Costco throughout the year.

4. Food

Eating out for every meal can be very costly and end up taking a large portion of vacation money. In my opinion, it’s also one of the easiest places to cut costs. Most standard hotels provide a complimentary breakfast with a variety of options. We pack a cooler of food for lunches and snacks throughout the day. 

For dinner, I research the area for restaurants that have a kids-eat-free night. This can be a big money saver! Last summer, we took our girls to one of those kids’ entertainment and food places. As any parent can attest, between the food and games, it can really add up. So I did my research and called in advance to ask about any promotions or discounts. It paid off! We ended up only spending half of what we budgeted for that experience. My girls had an amazing time!

5. Accommodations

Consider signing up for a hotel’s free rewards card. Sometimes they will offer a small discount or other perk during your stay. In addition, booking a stay through the week is often so much cheaper than a weekend. 

6. Attractions 

I recommend searching Pinterest for free, kid-friendly attractions at your upcoming travel spot. The photos below were taken in Art Works, a free, hands-on children’s area at the Joslyn Art Museum. It was a great experience! Another way to cut costs is through memberships you may already have, like the children’s museum or zoo, for example. They often have reciprocating lists that can offer a discounted admissions price in another location! 

budget friendly summer vacation or spring break road trip tips 

Despite the subzero temperatures outside, this post has me dreaming of warmer things to come. I can’t wait until our next adventure!

What are your favorite summer  or spring break road trip destinations?


Nikki Wildemuth
Nikki is new to the area. She graduated from the Western Illinois University-Quad Cities Campus in 2009 with a Bachelor's of Science in Elementary Education. She married her husband the same year. Nikki loved the creativity of teaching and continues to bring that same creativity as a stay at home mom. During the day you can find her chasing after her precocious toddler. By night she is a Pinterest junkie! She enjoys getting out and spending time with her family!


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