Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Smart Travel for the Budget Weary Family

All over the news, plaguing the newspaper headlines and dampening our fondness for SUVs, it is no surprise that Americans are increasingly weary of the escalating gas prices. With summer vacations in the minds of most Americans in need of a break, families all over the country are reluctant to plan those all-important family vacations. After all, why shed the bucks on your gas-guzzler when you can stay at home, fill up the plastic kiddie pool, and have yourself an old-fashioned barbeque?
Although the prospect of lighting up the coals on the ole' grill brings back fond memories of summers past, Americans are overlooking the heart of the situation. Family vacations are at the core of what brings families together, what takes mom and dad out of the office, and what creates lasting memories that your children look back on for the rest of their lives. Forgoing the summer vacation and surrendering to gas prices is not the answer. Knowing how to plan a smart summer vacation IS the answer. Here are a few tips for preserving the oh-so precious budget before and during your family vacation: 
  • Choose your destination wisely- Chose a summer hot spot within an easy drive from your home. When considering the destination, make sure you choose an area with concentrated attractions for the whole family. The goal here is to drive to the hotel (within a day), park the family vehicle in the hotel garage, and never drive it until you are ready to leave. {East Coast families interested in a beach getaway should consider destinations such as Virginia Beach, VA or Ocean City, MD}
  • Research alternate transportation- Many popular vacation destinations offer seasonal transportation just for tourists. Look into public transportation as well as special shuttles from attraction to attraction. Some hotels even offer free shuttles from the hotel to popular area attractions.
  • Shop the Internet- The Internet, with it's wide array of travel-oriented websites, is the best place to start your research. Avoid the major travel websites that will only provide brief summaries of your favorite destinations. Instead, check out the local, "mom and pop" websites that often provide detailed information and expert advice. When keying in your search term, avoid generic terms like "Ocean City" or "Virginia Beach". Instead, try: "Ocean City transportation" or "Virginia Beach vacation packages."
  • Take it easy- The best vacations are ones that are not jam-packed with activities all day every day. Plan a day or two of activities to area attractions and play everything else "by ear." A day lounging at the hotel pool, or sunbathing on the beach is relaxing, and better yet, FREE! Bring a volleyball or football for the kids while you are getting that much needed R&R.
Melanie Joyner is an Internet Promotions Manager, working for Gold Key Resorts based in Virginia Beach, VA. Find discount Virginia Beach vacation packages at


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