There’s something about March that makes families want to get away. The cold of winter has started to die down and spring is on the horizon. Schools let out and kids start to get stir-crazy. But what do you do if you simply don’t have the money to go on a full-blown vacation? You can still provide your kiddos with a week full of memories, even if you are on a budget. No matter what your family’s interests are, there are plenty of cheap spring break ideas for families to enjoy and create memories that they’ll treasure forever.
We’ve done the dirty work and come up with over 15 ideas to help you save money and enjoy some family time!
15+ CHEAP SPRING BREAK IDEAS FOR FAMILIES
Some people will argue that staycations are a “cop-out” for a real vacation but in all reality, they can be just as fun as a full-blown vacation. While you may not travel the country, you will get to see your area in a whole new light and save you the headache of planning hotels, hours of driving and overpriced foods. The truth is, there is plenty of fun to keep you busy during a staycation and you can sleep in your own bed each night!
DON’T MISS THIS!
There’s nothing quite as fun as sleeping under the stars. The best part about camping is that you can do it anywhere! Pitch a tent in the backyard, head to a friend’s open field or down to the creek banks. No matter where you go, enjoy some typical camping fun, like S’mores over the campfire grill, weenie roasts, ghost stories and campfire songs. As much as you dislike the inconveniences of camping, try to remember that you set the tone for the trip. If the kids think you’re having a great time, they’ll follow your lead!
The best part about beach vacations is that you can literally stay on the beach all day, instead of visiting overpriced tourist areas. Kids can spend hours splashing in the waves, building sand castles and walking along the beach! You can save plenty of money by staying in a hotel that isn’t on the beach, but just a block away.
Whether you want to head to Smokey Mountain National Park or Glacier National Park, there’s plenty of fun for the whole family. Enjoy nature, take in beautiful scenery and make memories that will last a lifetime. The admission prices to each park vary but they are very affordable. Today, you can get into Grand Canyon National Park for just $35 for the entire car full of people and it’s good for 7 days. That’s only $5 per day for the whole family to enjoy some of the most gorgeous views in America!
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Fun Sights to See:
There are fun and uncommon landmarks all across the country that are just as fun as the biggest and most expensive tourist areas! Check out Lebanon, KS for the center of the United States. Amarillo, TX is a fun stop to see Cadillac Ranch, a collection of brightly painted, half buried vintage Cadillacs. There are fun sites all around, so do your research and find some of the places your family will love most. On our most recent vacation, we headed to Monarch Pass in Colorado and had a family picnic on the Continental Divide. On our way, we stopped at several roadside attractions, including an actual wind turbine blade, which was much larger than we realized!
Save Money on Lodging:
Camping gear is always a good investment! Once you own it, you can use it time and time again. A few years ago, we were in desperate need of a vacation but didn’t have a lot of money to spend. We decided to head to the beach and camp there to avoid overpriced hotels. Instead of spending $100 a night for a beachfront hotel, we spent under $15 per night! With the money we saved on lodging, we were able to spring for more expensive experiences that we wouldn’t have been able to afford if we were paying for a hotel.
You can find some awesome deals on sites such as Groupon. A quick search on Groupon found us a 3 night hotel stay for under $100 to a nearby indoor water park and hotel. Usually the price is over $100 per night, so that was a heck of a deal! Be sure to include your zip code and other locations you may be interested in traveling as well. We had no plans to go to the town where the water park is located but for that price, our plans quickly changed!
If you’re looking to save money on hotels, you want to be sure to check out sites like AirBnB. For the cost of a hotel room, you can often rent a cabin or house, with a full kitchen and plenty of room for the whole family. While it may seem expensive at $75-$100 per night, you need to remember that you will be able to cook your meals here, so you will be saving a bundle on food. It’s also nice to have a place to separate the kids when young ones need a nap. Hotels make this task nearly impossible, with rowdy older children.
Stay with Friends & Family:
If you simply need a place to lay your head, staying with friends or family is a great way to save some cash. You don’t want to intrude and you don’t need them to entertain you, so simply be up front with them. Many family members don’t want overnight guests because they feel like they will have to stick around and entertain them. Ensure your friends and family that you have a full schedule and will only need a safe place to sleep. If you’re willing to sleep on the couch or floor, let them know that, too! The less pressure they feel, the more likely they will be to welcome you into their home with open arms.
Save Money on Food:
It’s no secret that going out to eat can add up quickly. With a family of 5, we were spending $30-$40 per meal at fast food restaurants. It didn’t take us long to realize we’d rather be spending our money on experiences rather than food. We grabbed a jar of peanut butter, some jelly, a loaf of bread and some chips and called it lunch, day after day! Tummies were full and we were spending less than $10 per meal since the PB&J lasted the whole week. Simply turn your meal into a picnic and the kids will love it!
Skip a Meal:
There’s no rule that says you have to eat 3 giant meals each day. Keep a few snacks on hand and you should have no problem skipping out on one meal each day. For us, we opt to skip lunch since we were usually super busy during the day anyways. Inform the kids ahead of time, so they know they will need to eat a large breakfast. It’s amazing what cutting out just one meal each day did to our pocketbook! Instead of spending $40 on Happy Meals for lunch, we grabbed a package of Goldfish and served them to the kiddos for an afternoon snack! Skipping lunch saved us over $200 on our weeklong vacation!
Sure, soda pop tastes great but there’s no reason you should be paying $2 a piece at a restaurant. Instead, order waters and grab a 2-liter of your favorite soda to enjoy back at the hotel. But don’t make this a rule just for kids. Beer and other alcoholic beverages are WAY overpriced. If you really want to enjoy a drink, grab a case for later and order water alongside the rest of the family while eating.
One thing to check out when booking your hotel is what they offer for breakfast. Many hotels have an abundance of food, like pancakes, eggs and sausage. Others only offer cereal and muffins. It’s important to know exactly what your hotels serve for their continental breakfast and consider that when factoring in the price of your hotel. I never stay at a hotel that charges for breakfast or only offers a small selection. There are plenty of hotels to choose from and often, the cheaper the hotel, the better the breakfast. Strange, but true!
Getting There is Half the Fun:
Flying can save you time but driving can save you money! Gas isn’t too expensive and the sites you’ll take in while road-tripping are memories in the making. Plus, with plenty of room in your trunk, you can take more items than you would be able to carry on a plane, which means you’ll likely have to buy less when you arrive at your destination.
Stock Up on Yummy Snacks:
Save money by packing snacks your kids will love. We’ve made a great list with over 35 snack ideas that are perfect to take along in the car. It’s definitely worth the investment to buy a small cooler that will keep cold drinks and foods handy. But you also need to make sure you have a trash can and baby wipes on hand, to keep the car tidy and free of spills.
While you may be excited to get to your destination, help keep everyone stress-free by stopping as often as needed. Bathroom breaks, fresh air and stretching can help you save your sanity. Instead of getting grumpy every time you need to stop, factor in plenty of time so that you don’t get irritated and put the whole family in a bad mood.
Do Your Research:
Check the route to see exactly where you can stop and enjoy yourselves. Instead of just stopping at every gas station, look for unique spots, photography opportunities and rare experiences. The more you know ahead of time, the better you can plan. We prefer to swing by rest stops as opposed to gas stations because the kids can get out and run around the area for a bit. This also helps us save money, as they don’t want to run inside and buy drinks, snacks and overpriced souvenirs.
If you are searching for cheap spring break ideas for families, you need to first set a budget and then decide how to make the very most out of those numbers. No matter how small, you can create a spring break vacation that your kids will remember for years to come!
MUST HAVE SPRING BREAK ITEMS: