By the end of winter, many of us are feeling a bit of cabin fever and would love to get out of town for spring break. But what happens when you have a limited budget? Families on a budget aren’t doomed to stay home during vacation. Check out these great budget-friendly spring break ideas. You might be surprised at the adventures your family can have without breaking the bank.
My family gets hit pretty hard by the travel bug by the time spring roles around. We have spent the majority of the winter staying home, inside the house. Seeing spring break on the calendar gets us thinking about adventures on the road, but sometimes our bank account doesn’t have as big a balance as our travel dreams.
Just because our bank account may not have recovered from Christmas does not mean we can’t find ourselves on an adventure. There are several budget-friendly spring break ideas that can get a family out of the house and making memories.
Spring Break Ideas For Families On A Budget
Spring break on a budget doesn’t have to mean a staycation (though those are great too). You can find plenty of adventures that are budget-friendly with a little creative thinking. Here are some budget-friendly spring break ideas to get those creative juices flowing.
Relaxing spring break ideas for families on a budget
If you live near a coast line, a beach vacation can be a great, budget-friendly spring break vacation. My family has enjoyed spring breaks on the West Coast from the Oregon Coast to Southern California.
If you are heading to a northern beach, the weather might be cool, but there are still plenty of fun activities. We like to fly kites on the beach, visit lighthouses, and find any free or cheap activities to do in the area.
Budget-friendly spring break ideas for active, outdoor families
I am one of those people who likes to constantly be going and doing things on my vacation. Even better if the activities are outdoors. While spring break is often still pretty cool where I live, we have found if we drive just five or six hours south we can find some great outdoor locations with warmer weather and plenty of activities for the entire family.
My personal favorite is the Redwoods. Most of the state parks are free or only a few dollars to enter. There are trails for all skill levels. We even let our twins, who had just turned two, walk several of the trails. Toddlers love the freedom to run and get some energy out, and older kids will love seeing the giant trees.
Many national parks are open to the public during spring break as well. Zion National Park is beautiful, and not too hot this time of year. The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and many other locations are very budget friendly. If you visit a national park, be sure to check out the Junior Ranger Program for your children.
National parks are pretty inexpensive as it is, but if you have a fourth grader, your child can gain your family entry to the National Parks for free. Military members also receive free entrance to national parks.
The great thing about these locations is that if the hotel lodging is too expensive, you can usually find campgrounds or RV parks to fit your budget.
Free Activities Are King For Families On A Budget Vacation
If the beach and the outdoors are not your cup of tea, a great way to plan a budget-friendly spring break is checking out free family activities in nearby cities that you could easily drive to. Plan an entire vacation around doing those free activities, and maybe staying at a hotel and swimming in the pool. You may be surprised at the amount of free activities you find.
Some of my favorite freebies or discounts are museums, local markets (think Pike’s Market in Seattle) and even just finding a great park to play in.
These vacations are a great alternative to a staycation. My oldest son, The Goof, and I did a vacation like this when we went to Salt Lake City. We mostly did free or discounted activities. It made the entire vacation extremely affordable.
Tips For Saving Money On Spring Break
If you already have an idea of where you want to go, but are looking for some general tips to save money on your vacation, don’t worry, I have you covered. I am the queen of saving money on vacation. Seriously, my friends have given me this title. Below are some of my best save money tips for vacations.
Save money on zoos and aquariums
If your local zoo or aquarium is a member of the AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums) and participates in the reciprocal list, you can gain free or discounted access to facilities across the country, using your local zoo annual pass. I used to think it was only small zoos like our own that participated but the list even includes one of the top zoos in the country- Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium
Drive instead of fly
For the majority of families, driving will be less expensive than flying. Yes, it will take longer to get to your destination, but often times you can fly for less than 50% the cost of flying your entire family (depending on family size and destination). If you have a reliable vehicle, this is a great money saving option.
My family has fallen in love with driving. What started out as a money saving option has become our first choice in transportation options. Driving gives us a chance to check out fun roadside attractions that are often free and a lot of fun.
Save on lodging with these tips
One of the biggest money saving options you can make is in your lodging. Here are some of my favorite, and most affordable lodging options.
Stay with family or friends. If you are heading somewhere that you have family or friends nearby, see if you can bunk with family or friends. This honestly is not my favorite option since I have a rowdy crew, but it is a great option for many families on a budget.
Use alternative lodging. There are so many great options for lodging now days that didn’t exist when we were younger. Air BnB, HomeAway, Vacatia and more offer vacation rentals for areas all over the world. These are great options for those with larger families or extended family traveling together. Of course, RV parks and campgrounds are another great option for budget-friendly spring break ideas. You can even rent cabins at many of these parks, such as KOA.
Use discount booking sites. One of my favorite ways to save on lodging has become using pay before you know sites such as Hotwire Hot Rates or Priceline’s Express Deals or Name Your Own Price options. If you take the time to do the research you can narrow down which hotels you are getting pretty well. I have booked three and four star hotels at 50% off the direct prices using these sites, and never had a bad experience (knock on wood).
Visit Places That Are Still In Their Off Season
One thing that I love about spring break is I can save a lot of money by traveling places that may still be a bit “off season.” For example, the Oregon Coast is a popular summer destination, but if you have an early Spring Break, you can get some great deals and miss the crowds. To find a location that is not going to be a popular spring destination, look for locations a little further north. Since these locations are cooler, they won’t draw in as many crowds.
Use these tips to get inspired and create your own budget-friendly spring break ideas. What is your favorite spring break for families on a budget?