Have a Great Family Vacation Even If You’re on a Tight Budget

By David Janeson

If you’re on a tight budget, you might think taking a family vacation is out of the question. But, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, if you plan it right, you and your family can look forward to a memorable vacation that doesn’t cost a fortune.

Start Saving Now

Open a savings account dedicated to your family vacation. Your contributions don’t have to be large. You’ll be amazed at how quickly putting away a tiny bit of money each week adds up.

Look Close to Home

Disneyland may be out of your budget range. But, there are countless treasures near you. For example, Gull Harbour, with affordable accommodations and a load of recreational activities, is just two hours from Winnipeg.

Ask your friends and co-workers if they know of any little-known places near where you live. Conduct internet searches to find vacation possibilities you’ve never heard of.

Many family-owned vacation resorts and facilities offer incredible deals to families. They also tend to be less crowded and go beyond the norm when it comes to serving their guests.

Go OffSeason or During the Week

The time you choose to go makes a huge difference in the money you’ll spend. Prime vacation times are summer and holidays. That makes sense because that’s when everyone has time off from school and work.

If at all possible, plan your vacation for offseason or weekday stays instead of those prime travel times. Flexibility is key.

Try Camping

Purchasing camping equipment will cost you, that’s true. But, you can often find budget family camping packages on special or used tents and camp stoves sold in online marketplaces. Once you have the equipment, your adventure options are wide-open.


“Quick tip: If you purchase a used tent, assemble it in your backyard to test for leaks and practice setting it up before you take it on your trip.” — David Janeson


Many parks have campgrounds with affordable rates. Depending on the park, your adventure could include biking, fishing, swimming and hiking on any numbers of scenic trails.

Choose a Different Type of Vacation

Driving to a place and hanging out isn’t the only kind of family vacation there is. Some of the alternatives are not only affordable but provide a unique experience for the entire family.

Factory tours may not sound like the most fun type of vacation experience, but how does a chocolate factory tour sound? That’s something you can sink your teeth into. Many factories offer tours, and some let you sample the goods as well.

Learning vacations, such as learning to make crafts, riding a horse or digging for fossils, are increasingly popular. Learning vacations are budget-friendly and give you and the kids hands-on experiences you won’t forget.

Another type of vacation possibility is the volunteer vacation. A volunteer vacation is not only a great way to spend time with your family, but it also teaches children the joy that comes from helping others.

Getting away from the stresses of everyday life is important even if you can’t afford to take a two-week trip to Disneyland. Some of the best places to recharge, regroup and have fun with your family are right outside your back door.


David Janeson owns Gull Harbour Marina, a seasonal lakeside resort on beautiful Hecla Island, Manitoba.