Summer will be winding down soon but it’s not too late to take a family trip without spending too much money. Going on vacation and getting away from the norm and the daily grind of the work week doesn’t mean you have to book a stay at a 4-star resort on a private island.

Taking a mini-family vacation for a few days or a weekend, can help clear your mind, allow you the chance to relax and enjoy time spent with friends and family, and return home refreshed and rejuvenated.

According to an American Express survey on summer vacation travel, a typical American family of four will generally spend more than $4,000 on vacation and traveling during the summer. What if you don’t have that kind of money to spare? Do you just stay home and work the entire summer without taking a break? There are other options.

If your budget has been tight lately but you still want to go somewhere and enjoy the summer season to the fullest, consider one of these frugal last minute summer family trip ideas.

Visit Family and Friends

Sometimes the best times are spent with family and friends. Simply enjoying a meal together is a wonderful bonding experience.

Do you have family members or friends who live in a neighboring state? If so, visiting them can be a great reason to get out of town for a few days. Life is too short not to spend time with extended family even if they’re not in your area. So if the drive is only a few hours, reach out to family and friends to plan a visit to catch up with everyone.

Staying with loved ones can lower the cost of your entire trip because you probably won’t have to pay to stay in a hotel and you can split the costs of meals and activities while you are in town. Play tourist in their neighborhood and let them show you all the attractions and local events that make their home town special. Trips to your relative’s hometown will allow you to escape your daily routine by seeing and experiencing a different area.

Go on a Weekend Road trip

Sunset sets on a beautiful 2 lane highway

Exotic vacations are nice, but sometimes it can be hard to find the time to balance relaxing and exploring the area while you’re on vacation. When you’re back home, life can become extremely busy and it can be difficult to find time to explore your own region.

Going on a weekend road trip with your family will allow you to see and enjoy some attractions in your region that you haven’t had a chance to check out before. Try to limit your trip to around 6 hours one way to keep fuel costs under control and you can also rent a car during the weekend to take advantage of any deals or specials that are offered to drivers. Pack snacks and sandwiches to have a picnic at one of your stops and to avoid spending a ton of money on food. You can also check your credit cards’ reward points balances or cash back so you can score free or reduced hotel stays.

Go Camping

3 kids looking out a tent while camping

Disengage from technology and go camping right before the school year starts for the kids. There are hundreds of safe camping sites and U.S. National Parks and state parks to choose from. Buy most of your food ahead of time at a supermarket and you can either rent or borrow gear and supplies.

Camping is a relaxing and low cost way to get out of town for a few days and experience something different. You can spend a few days fishing, rock climbing, or hiking around the area or even rent a small canoe if there is a lake or river nearby. If you camp near a state park, you’ll be able to enjoy nature while being close individuals who may be able to make your camping trip more comfortable along with resources and tools that can assist you.

Head to the Beach or a Water Resort

Girl playing in the water at a local water park

Visiting the beach for a weekend can be the ultimate frugal getaway. Most natural beaches are free and you can stay throughout the entire day if you wish. Nothing beats laying out all day, swimming and playing volleyball in the sand.

If you don’t have any beaches near you, you can also book at stay at a local indoor/outdoor water resort. Check Groupon or LivingSocial for deals first because you might be surprised with what you come up with. During spring break, I purchased a Groupon for $55 that included admission to an indoor water resort for 4 people, 4 passes to the onsite arcade and a large pizza. We had a great time and I didn’t feel like I was running over my budget.

Staying overnight at a water resort will most likely run your bill up, but if you can’t secure any discounts on the room you can always stay at a nearby hotel and bring some of your own food along.

Even though there’s not much of summer left, there’s still time to squeeze in a frugal vacation with your loved ones.

How do you save money when traveling during the busy summer season? What’s your favorite frugal vacation idea?

Chonce Maddox

Chonce is a freelance writer who’s obsessed with frugality and passionate about helping others increase their savings rate, eliminate debt, and work toward financial stability. She chronicles her journey to becoming debt-free on her blog, mydebtepiphany.com.

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