Family vacations are an important part of creating a healthy, well-balanced life. They’re also required to help keep your sanity when it comes to the mundane, day-to-day of most people’s daily lives.

Do you ever feel like you’re living Groundhog’s Day? Poor Bill Murray, waking each morning to slap that alarm clock only to realize today is the same exact day as yesterday - and the day before that. I know I feel that way at times. But scheduling family vacations can help to combat this hamster wheel. Not only are vacations themselves a mental relief, but booking your trip or penciling it into your calendar provides a light at the end of the tunnel - something to look forward to and help get you through each day.

I know some people who haven’t taken a vacation in years! I am blessed to have a camping trailer and a husband that enjoys spontaneity. Once the warmer weather rolls around, we take at least 3-4 camping trips a season. Some as long as a week and others just a long weekend. I understand that not everyone can afford to vacation regularly. But there are some great ways to vacation on a budget. Here are just a few I’ve found extremely helpful, along with other tips for your upcoming trip.

Choose the Off Season

This is a great tip not only for your wallet but for your sanity, as well. Traveling during the off-season means fewer crowds and increased availability of hotel reservations, shows, and shorter lines if you’re visiting an area with attractions.

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Avoid traveling during holidays and keep an eye on the weather. People frequent warmer locations during the winter months and cooler climates to escape the summer heat. If you can do the opposite, you can take advantage of some great deals.

Stay Local

A vacation doesn’t mean you have to travel far. As an avid camper, there are a handful of campgrounds we frequent that are less than an hour drive. Keeping things close means saving on airfare and gas.

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Camping is a great alternative to staying at a hotel or resort. Even if you don’t own an RV, renting a tent site is relatively inexpensive. But the experience will be more enriching than you might think. Spending time in the outdoors as a family, unplugged from technology means more conversation, activity, and even game playing. Most campgrounds offer family activities, events, and tons of recreation.

Look for Deals

This one seems like a pretty obvious approach to budget travel, but it’s still is one of the best! Sites like Travelzoo, Travelocity, and Kayak offer some pretty awesome travel packages and discounts.

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You can use these sites to find inspiration on where to travel or search for a specific area you’re interested in. You can even find tips on the best time of day to book a flight and amazing bundle packages that combine airfare, hotels, and even car rentals.

Timeshares

The jury is still out on timeshares. Some people consider them an amazing investment, as well as a guarantee that you’ll frequent the same, beloved vacation spot time and again. But for most people, especially those looking to travel on a budget, timeshares are extremely expensive.

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Most timeshares require a hefty down payment, coupled with a high-interest rate. You might be thinking it’s a lucrative idea to rent out your timeshare when you’re not using it. This is possible, but most timeshare owners need to guarantee a steady, repeat renter to make this side of things worth it. If saving money is your goal, there are a long list of reasons why timeshares are bad investments. If you’re still considering this vacation option, be sure to do your research and read the fine print before agreeing to anything!

Don’t Put it Off

How many times have you said, “We’ll take that vacation someday”, but someday never comes? Don’t put your vacation off any longer. If you find yourself daydreaming about a certain destination or spending several working hours searching the internet, then it’s time to make this dream a reality.

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Sit down with your family and choose a date and time of year that works best for everyone’s schedule. If you have children, plan your trip around school breaks. Coordinate yours and your partner’s work schedules so that neither of you are overly stressed during your time away.

Making time for a break can actually result in a better, more enthusiastic work ethic upon your return. That’s right - you can argue to your boss that you’ll be a more focused, determined, and efficient worker following a short hiatus.

Now that you know how to travel without breaking the bank and all the amazing benefits it offers, what are you waiting for? Book your next vacation now!