Fun Travel ideas for Families
With summer comes thoughts of travel: road trips and theme parks and visits to Grandma's house, camping and cruising and hanging out by the pool.
The most organized of families, of course, have already made their summer vacation plans. But for those of us who have not yet decided, or hyper-organized families who are already thinking about next year, we’ve got some excellent ideas.
The good news is you don’t have to be rich to enjoy a great family vacation.
"A lot of people have in their mind that a family vacation has to cost a lot of money, " says Jody Halsted, who shares travel tips at FamilyRambling.com and has been traveling with kids since the first of her two daughters was 3 months old. "It can cost a lot of money, but it doesn’t have to."
How much a family vacation costs depends on a lot of variables, starting with how long you plan to vacation and whether you will drive or fly. Choice of lodging also makes a big difference, as does what you plan to do and where you plan to eat.
And, of course, it depends on where you start your trip.
"If people are on a budget, they really should be looking at destinations they could drive to, " says Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, the family vacations expert at About.com.
A road trip can be a vacation in itself, not just a means to an end. Arm the kids with cameras and let them photograph the World’s Largest Ball of Twine or the World’s Largest Pistachio Nut, share their photos on social media and create collages when they return home.
"A road trip is the perfect family vacation, " says Tamela Rich, an author who spends much of her time on road trips. "It’s not about going to a destination and forking over money. It’s what you do on the way."
She suggests letting older kids research and plan what to see and where to eat along the way. She likes the Roadside America (for Apple devices only) and History Here (for both Apple and Android devices) apps for finding unusual sights and historical markers.
If your dates are flexible, you can save money. Hotels in large cities are often cheaper over the weekend, but a resort may offer better rates midweek.
Extended-stay hotels or vacation rentals let you cook meals. Some chain hotels provide free breakfasts, and a picnic in the park is cheaper than lunch in a restaurant. "If you’re eating out three meals a day, that’s going to really add up, " Kelleher says.
Admission fees to theme parks, zoos and attractions can be costly. Check with local tourist offices and websites for destination-city deals and coupon books as well as information on free events. The Entertainment Book, which is significantly discounted now that it’s the middle of the year, offers lots of two-for-one coupons for local attractions. Choosing a destination where lots of attractions are free, such was Washington, D.C., also cuts costs.
And remember, kids are often happier when the trip is not completely jam-packed. "Sometimes the best thing for kids is to let them have their free time in a park or playground, " Halsted says.
What are some fun family vacation ideas?
Amusement Parks: 5.Walt Disney World, Florida 4.Legoland, California 3.Sesame Place, Pennsylvania 2.Six Flags, Locations MORE
What are fun ideas for families in downtown Chicago?
Shedds Acquarium is a fun! John G. Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605. Phone 312-939-2438.