Cat in luggage with vacation gear.

We all need a break once in a while - be it from work, school, or just the stressors of life in general. Just because we need a break, however, doesn't mean we have to break the bank getting one. There are many ways to enjoy time off with your family while saving money at the same time. Unfortunately, money is a huge factor in what kind of vacation you're able to take.

What Does It Really Cost to Go on Vacation?

While a vacation might be on everyone's to-do list for the year, it might not always be financially possible or responsible to spend the money to go out of town. Especially if you have children, a vacation can cost upwards of $3500 - and that's just for the flight and tickets to a popular amusement park! We found that, in a family of four, the average price per person to fly to Orlando would be $623.20! That's nearly $2,500 in costs for simply arriving at your vacation destination.

In order to get a good idea of how costly an amusement park vacation would be, we narrowed it down to Universal Studios and Walt Disney World. Using the same parameters of a one week vacation with a family of four, we found that you'd be paying $294.99 per person to gain entry to Universal Studios and $304.00 per person ($284.00 per child aged 3-9) to gain entry to Walt Disney World.

Before purchasing any food, hotel rooms, or souvenirs to take home with you, you'll be spending just over $3,500! Not in the budget? You're in luck. There's another vacation option out there for you, and it's hiding where you'd least expect it...right in your own hometown!

"Stay"cation versus Vacation

A staycation is an inexpensive alternative to a regular vacation that has the potential to be packed with just as much fun as a trip to see Mickey and friends. During your staycation, you can do many of the things you'd normally do if you went away - take time off work, plan exciting activities with the family, relax and unwind. Here are some ideas we've found that will help you enjoy your time off without spending your savings!

  • Local Amusement Park - If you live in a city or town that has an amusement park close by, such as Six Flags or Busch Gardens, we suggest getting a season pass! You'll spend significantly less on these local parks and you'll be able to visit as many times as you want throughout the entire season the park is open.
  • Day Trips - Not around any amusement parks? Take advantage of your local zoo or park and have a mini adventure! It's hard to remember to take notice of the exciting things all around you when you're always trying to get out of town for a break.
  • Family Swim - Take a trip to the beach! Of course, it doesn't have to be the beach to be a good time! A nearby lake or community pool can be just as fun as a sunny beach if you allow yourself to enjoy your time off.

We realize that a staycation can be a tough sell, but if your budget is tight, it's certainly a more financially responsible option than getting yourself into debt. If it's absolutely necessary for you and your family to get away for a week, it's important to budget throughout the year for the trip. Many people we talk to get into financial trouble, not because they went on an out-of-town vacation, but because they didn't do the proper planning. Much like holiday spending, it's not a good idea to wait until the last minute to find the money for a vacation, and you certainly shouldn't use money set aside for your mortgage or bill payments to go on a vacation. However you decide to spend your time off, make sure that it's a responsible financial decision for you and your family.

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