We’re getting ready to take our summer vacation soon. It’s in part a celebration of my 5th wedding anniversary, but also because we want to visit family up in Oregon and Washington. It looks to be a great trip, but with money being tight, it’s going to be a bit challenging to not overspend.

We are taking several steps to limit our expenses. Even though gas is expensive, it’s going to be cheaper to drive up than it would be to fly then rent a car. We’ll have some basic snacks and water in the car.

With two small children, there will be a lot of potty breaks. No avoiding that, especially since they’ll also be ways to tire the kids out so they won’t get too cranky in the car.

We are fortunate enough to have relatives live at reasonable stopping points for each leg of the trip. The drive is about 1000 miles, so it would be extremely difficult to do in a single day. However, with relatives in Sacramento, we have a very nice stopping point to get a few hours’ rest out of the car without getting a hotel room.

Visiting family is a great way to make a family vacation inexpensive. With most families it’s lots of fun too. But what if you don’t want to visit family this year?

Consider camping. This is something we use for mini vacations as well. Even one night out camping can be fun, and cost fairly little. Find out where your local campgrounds are and how much they cost. If you already own a tent, sleeping bags and other camping equipment, the trip costs very little.

Camping is great to do with the kids. It’s a time for them to get out into nature. It’s a chance to exercise in a beautiful place. I found it interesting a couple months ago, when Ariel and I were taking a Math and Science Together class that they said one of the theorized causes of Attention Deficit is how little time kids spend in nature. Who knows if they have it right, but it’s an interesting concept.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a great family vacation. If money’s tight, skip the hotels and expensive theme parks, and go on a budget vacation. You’ll still build great memories.

[tags]summer vacation, budget travel, camping, visiting family, traveling with children[/tags]