Family Vacations on a Budget
by Amy Keesee Freudiger
It’s summer vacation time and, boy, do I have my share of wild and crazy family vacation stories! Whether we were riding in an RV on downtown San Francisco’s steep grades (my poor father!), hiking through Alaskan bear country at dusk singing at the top of our lungs (yikes!), or taking in an opera in Vienna, Austria (that’s more like it!), my parents made sure we experienced the world.But they also showed us that it’s possible to do it all without busting the bank.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years about getting a lot of vacation for a little money…
- Rent a house. It’s usually cheaper to rent a house for a week than it is to stay in a hotel. Sites like vrbo.com and airbnb.com are a great help. Once, we rented an Italian manor to fit seven people for a week in the Tuscan hills for just $800!
- Go camping. Our U.S. national parks are truly amazing places to camp. I’ve seen more than 40 of our 59 national parks, and each one is special. Check out nps.gov. You can purchase a parks family pass for $80 per year. Then, pack up your gear (buy it used on Craigslist and eBay) and get out there!
- Visit daily deal websites. Sites like restaurant.com can provide restaurant deals in the area you’ll be visiting. They also have an app!
- Buy an Entertainment coupon book. Buy one specific to the area you plan to visit, and it will also work as a mini-guidebook. Check it out on entertainment.com
- Ask the locals. The people who live in the area know where you can avoid expensive tourist traps and get the best value for your money.
- Take a picnic. There’s nothing more memorable than packing up a meal and heading out into the mountains, down to the beach, or to a nearby free park or attraction and enjoying an alfresco affair.
Be sure to:
- Enroll in rewards programs. My husband and I have racked up points on that allowed us to vacation for free more than once. In just a year as newlyweds, we earned more than $3,000 worth of rewards thanks to some wise planning.
- Have it all covered on a cruise. Cruises are cheapest a year before the cruise date or within a month of sailing. Our family was able to purchase a 13-day family cruise from Florida to Rome for just $550 per person because we booked it a year out.
The bottom line is the bottom line. You don’t have to spend your life savings to build lasting memories with your family. Life is too short to use money or time as excuses. Don’t miss your opportunity to share an adventure with your family!
Listen in Now to Faith Life Church!
Drenda Keesee’s contagious zeal and humorous personal experiences help make her ministry of spiritual, emotional and relational wholeness one that will bless your life and spark a new fire in your spirit.
A wife of over 30 years and a mother of five children, Drenda has ministered at churches, seminars, and conferences, and through the mediums of television and radio, for more than 20 years.
Her books, The New Vintage Family, Better Than You Think, and She Gets It are available wherever books are sold. In these heartfelt books, Drenda shares her personal journey and the life lessons that have brought her to where she is today, as well as practical answers that all people need to live a joyful life.
Drenda and her husband Gary founded Faith Life Now, a ministry designed to spread the message of freedom in the areas of finances, faith, marriage and family. Faith Life Now hosts conferences worldwide, and sponsors both Fixing the Money Thing, which Drenda co-hosts with her husband Gary, and Drenda.
Through their own life experiences, the Keesees have found the principles from God’s Word to be powerful and effective. At one point, Drenda was a young, suicidal feminist with no hope of ever being “good enough” for her own standards of perfection. She never wanted the “inconvenience” of a husband or children, and she was on her own path to success. But the stress of trying to achieve perfection and perform for love left her broken and used. She had success, but it was nothing compared to the pain and loneliness it had also brought.
That’s when God got a hold of her heart. It was there—at her lowest point—that she found the One who accepted and loved her, faults and all. Since that transformation, Drenda has had a passion to reach women who find themselves where she once was.
She married Gary after attending college, and there she found herself in a personal boot camp of sorts. She says, “I cried and told God, ‘I can do anything but be a wife and mother.’” She committed to learning how to do it God’s way. Through the many years of raising their children and struggling to make ends meet, Drenda learned from their mistakes. “I didn’t know how to be a wife and mother, but God saved our marriage, taught us how to parent our children for success, showed us how to have financial success, and then irony of all ironies, He called us to ministry.” It’s truly because of these life experiences that Drenda can now share so many insightful principles for people who are now going through the same struggles.