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Family Vacationing In Your Own Home Town - How To Plan A Family Vacation In Your Own Town On A Budget.

Updated on January 15, 2010
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You've worked hard all year, and finally it's time to take that sorely needed vacation you've been promising your family you'd take them on.

Unfortunately, due to unexpected bills and massive hour cutbacks, you're just not going to be able to afford that vacation to Disney World you promised.

So what's a parent to do in a situation like this? Forgo a family vacation all together? Or go ahead with your plans, funding the whole trip on an high interest credit card, thereby putting yourself further in debt?

Fortunately, there is a third option - Vacationing in your own home town.

In addition to saving a massive amount of money on traveling expenses, think about all the lodging expenses you'll be saving - since you'll be staying in your own home, as well as the money you'll save if you choose to eat sparingly or not at all.

* Vacationing In My Home Town? - That Doesn't Sound Exciting To Me.

On the contrary, vacationing in one's home town can be really exciting if you know how to plan for it. This is the perfect time to experience sights and sounds you never knew existed in your town.

However, there are several things family heads need to keep in mind when they're planning a family vacation (whether it's in their home town or not):

  • How much you can afford to spend - this includes travel, food, lodging, activities, gifts, etc.
  • How many days the vacation will be.
  • What the whole family is interested in.
  • What your town has to offer.
  • What type of itinerary will be followed - a listing of things to do, places to see, etc.

A. How Much You Can Afford To Spend.

How much a family can afford to spend is solely left up to their own personal finances.

Nevertheless, when determining how much you can afford to spend, one should always keep in mind the cost of traveling, lodging, activities, and food.

Unexpected cost should be calculated in as well, such as parking fees or souvenir purchasing.

What if you're on a very strict budget? Determine what you can spend each day, and stick to that budget.

Herein lies the cost effectiveness of vacationing in your own home town.

Tip: If you're planning to visit museums in your home, look for ones that either offer family packages (some museums offer admissions for a family of four for only $20) or offer admission prices of $5 per adult and $3 per child, as well as free admission for children under the ages of four.

Tip: If you're planning to visit an animal or wildlife reserves, look for ones that offer discounted prices when you bring canned food (which is used to feed some of the animals), or recyclable items such as old cell phones.

A local animal reserve by the name of Oatland Island Wildlife Center Of Savannah, offers patrons a $1 off their already low admission price of $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 4-17 (seniors are included in this admission bracket as well), when they bring in two ink jet cartridges or one unused cell phone for recycling!

Tip: If you plan to eat out, look for restaurants that offer discounted meals (on specified days) for children 12/13 years of age and under when an adult meal is purchased for full price, while some restaurants actually allow kids to eat free with an adult purchase on specified nights (here locally, a Zaxby's kids meal at a Zaxby's resturant, is only .99 on Wednesday nights [Tuesday nights at another location] from 5 p.m to 9 p.m when a full priced adults' meal is purchased).

For the adults, there are restaurants such as Applebee's that offer meals where two people can eat for $20 - which includes one appetizer two entrees - and three courses meals for $20 at Chilli's which include one appetizer, two entrees, and a shared dessert.

To find out which restaurants in your town offer specials like these, simply call around or check online by googling "restaurants in (insert your local town's name here) where kids eat free or at discounted prices," and plan your outings around that.

B. How Many Days Will Our Family Vacation Be?

A normal family vacation last for a week or two, but if you're on a tight budget, you may need to cut that back to at least five days.

If you're really smart at how you spend your limited funds however, you could still shoot for a week and still find ways to enjoy yourself without breaking the budget.

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C. What Interest And Excites Your Family?

Depending on their ages and interest, knowing what your family members like and dislike is a must in determining a hometown family vacation that will please everyone.

Therefore, sit down and make a list of what each family member wants to see or do during their down time.

Tip: If your family is very active, why not seek activities that will get them moving. Sports activities in the park, indoor wall climbing (that are sometimes hosted in local malls for around $10 to $20 per person), bowling, rollerblading, or skateboarding at a local skate-park.

Calling ahead for prices will help you determine if certain activities can be worked into your budget or not. If you're budget is too tight, choose free activities such as playing ball, throwing Frisbees, or bicycling as a family in your local park instead, and make a day of it.

Tip: If your family is into the movies, most local libraries host free movie nights for the whole family. Depending on the movie being shown, you and your family can enjoy a free movie night at your local library.

If your local library doesn't offer such a program, look for dollar drive in theaters, theaters that play movies at discounted prices, grocery movie rental kiosk that provide customers with movie rentals at a dollar a night, and make it a movie marathon day or night.

Tip: If your family is into the arts, plan your vacation around days that offer free museum admissions, or look for museums that offer low admission fees ( Don't be afraid to ask if these sites honor military, AAA, student, or senior citizen discounts as well). Search out broad-way theaters that offer discounted rates for fun plays, or local city auditoriums with attractions that will not break the bank. Group rates are often available, you just have to request if such venues offer such rewards.

You can even tour your own town for free. You'll be surprisedat how many places you come across that you never knew existed. For instance, here locally, there is a river front known as River Street. Tourist and locals can sample foods, sweet treats, listen to musicians, window shop, visit the open air market, and browse through the small art galleries without spending a dime.

Tip: If your family loves nature, a trip to the beach, a visit to a local petting zoo, or traversing through little-known marked nature trails would be a good idea.

Tip: Other seasonal activities such as frequenting the pool or going ice-skating would make for fun activities during your hometown family vacation.

Tip: Activities such as window shopping, at your local outlets can be fun as well. Ensure that a budget is set and verbally agreed upon before you set foot in any store. Make it a game out of who can get the most items out of the money allotted to them - but make sure it's something that will be of value to that person, or the family as a whole.

Tip: If your family is into crafting, make that a day for craft-work such as painting, putting together model toys, sketching, etc.

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D. What Does Your Town Have To Offer?

Now that you know what interest your family, think about what your town has to offer.

Via the Internet, local newspapers, and local news channels, you can find out what events, festivals, art forums, and indoor or outdoor activities are offered by your town.

From there, you'll be able to find activities that will please the whole family.

E. Make An Itinerary And Stick To It.

Once you've completed the steps above, compose a written itinerary for the whole family to follow.

List where you will be going on what days, what time your day will start and end, what activities you will participate in, and how much money will be spent.

Include an eating schedule that details whether you'll be eating food brought from home or eating out on that particular day, what time you'll eat, as well as what meals will be eaten at home or away.

Include coupons or printed online specials to take along for extra money savings.

* Think Like A Tourist.

Vacationing in one's own home town may not appeal to some. In order to raise the level of appeal, try seeing your town through the eyes of someone who has never experienced the sights and sounds of your district before.

Look underneath the surface and search for the charm your town as to offer. In short, think like a tourist, be a tourist.

Take in all the sights and sounds, try foods you've never tried, visit places you've never been before, and take pictures to help you record your memories.

Vacations are no longer a simple luxury. They are an essential way for individuals and families to recuperate physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Although times are hard and money is tight, families still need that quality time for each other -quality time that is free from the worries of school, work, and the everyday grind of life in general.

With the use of these tips, and a good amount of planning ahead, you won't have to forgo your family vacation this year. So make the best with what you have, become a tourist in your own hometown, and make memories to share with family for years to come.

In the end, it's not where you go or how much money you spend, it's the time you spend with your family that's really important.

Who knows? - You'll probably find that vacationing in your home town on a budget, will be the best family vacation you've ever experienced.

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    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks so much TheDisneyVacation for taking the time to stop by, read, and comment.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Museums are way to go because nobody really check that wonderful place that have been waiting there for a long time!

      Nice information share!

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for stopping by habee. We are going to have to try this out this year, and I'm really excited about it.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Great idea! We did this one year when we were broke and had a great time!

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for stopping by praseio30. My family and I are going to have to do this, this year. With the money as tight as it has been, we can still have a great family vacation on a budget.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      9 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I liked your tips. These tips is useful for us. thanks Veronica. you made the Holiday more interesting.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Sigh..... What a life you must leave. You are definetly fortunate to live at the beach. I can see why everyday would be a vacation for you Greg Cremia. Thank you so much for stopping by.

    • Greg Cremia profile image

      Greg Cremia 

      9 years ago from Outer Banks

      I am lucky enough to live at the beach so I can make any day a vacation. Good hub.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks fastfreta - this is what we are planning to do this year for our family vacation. I can't wait to see how it pans out. I've been doing some research on some sites we've never visited before here in Savannah, that way it'll feel as if we are really on a vacation.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      9 years ago from Southern California

      Veronica what a grand idea for families. I'm sure some do this, (visit places of interest in their own hometown), but not calling it a vacation. However I think if you call it a vacation your children will enjoy it more. Very good hub.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks hello hello for stopping by. I really hope these tips will be helpful to all who find themselves in this predicament.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      As always, Veronica, super tips and a well written hub. Thank you.

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks so much for stopping by BkCreative. This hub actually was inspired by the fact that my husband and I - due to finanaces - will have to vacy in our own home town this year. We're really looking forward to the challange. And it's a great way to show our kids a little history about the town they live in.

    • BkCreative profile image


      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      This makes so much sense!

      It's amazing how many children don't know their own cities - because you usually pack up and go elsewhere because it is a vacation after all. I live in NYC and probably haven't seen most of the sites - and every year some friends and I say we will be tourists in NYC which would be fun because we'd know all the secret places - and avoid tourist traps! But no, we don't do it because then we always feel we'll get around to it. Sigh!

      This hub will be my reminder when mild weather comes! Thanks!

    • Veronica Allen profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Allen 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you Paradise7 for taking the time out to comment. It's been pretty cold here so we've had to find things to do inside as well. It sounds like your area has a lot of great things to offer. I think we have to just stop and look around us to find out what great options we have.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      That's a good idea. We have a butterfly habitat in the Strong Toy Museum and the kids love it, especially in the wintertime, because it's perpetual summer in there.

      One of my favorite things to do with visiting children is to take them to the planetarium. It's not too expensive and they're already jaded with movies. They learn something and it's a very comfortable environment.

      The only problem here is finding indoor things, because the weather is often iffy, but should we have decent weather, there are 12 parks to chose from, all beautiful and well-maintained. One park offers some hill-climbing and cross-country skiing trails, too!

      Good hub. Thanks!


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