Less expensive doesn’t have to mean cheap when it comes to planning a great family vacation.
Step 1: Start early Start planning your family vacation a year in advance. This gives you plenty of time to research trips and weigh costs without stress, and to make reservations before spots fill up.
Step 2: Know your budget Create a budget for the trip. Deals are only as good as the money you have to spend on them.
Step 3: Search for deals Search for deals online. Check online booking sites and subscribe to automatic deal alerts.
TIP: Don't trust advertisements. Just because a package is advertised as a deal doesn’t mean it is -- run the numbers and see for yourself.
Step 4: Network Network with other families to find out about deals and destinations.
Step 5: Lower food costs Lower food costs by seeking out "kids eat free" deals or by choosing lodging that includes cooking facilities so you can eat in instead of paying to go out.
Step 6: Travel off peak Travel during off-peak times. Summer and holiday travel tends to be the most expensive, so choosing an unconventional time frame can lead to substantial savings.
Step 7: Plan for all Plan your trip so that it is fulfilling for everyone in the family. Find a destination with activities for all ages so that everyone gets the R and R they deserve.
FACT: President George W. Bush spent 490 days vacationing in Crawford, Texas, during his time in office.