Family Summer Vacation Ideas on a Budget (and 20 Top Family Vacation Spots!)

Summer vacations are the perfect opportunity for families to create lasting memories and enjoy quality time together. Whether embarking on a road trip, exploring new destinations, or simply relaxing by the beach, a well-planned summer vacation can provide endless fun and excitement for the whole family. This guide will provide valuable tips and advice to help you plan a memorable summer vacation that caters to everyone’s interests.

Choosing the Perfect Destination

When planning a family vacation, choosing a destination that offers something for everyone is essential. Consider each family member’s interests, such as outdoor activities, cultural attractions, or adventure sports. Research various destinations, considering weather, accessibility, and safety.

  • National parks
    • Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho)
    • Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
    • Yosemite National Park (California)
    • Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
    • Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Tennessee and North Carolina)
  • Amusement parks
    • Disney’s Magic Kingdom (Florida)
    • Universal Studios (Florida)
    • Disneyland (California)
    • Cedar Point (Ohio)
    • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (Florida)
  • Beach resorts
    • Hilton Head Island Beach Resort (South Carolina)
    • South Seas Island Resort (Florida)
    • The Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island Golf Resort (South Carolina)
    • Outer Banks Beach Club Resort (North Carolina)
    • The Lodge at Gulf State Park (Alabama)
  • And historic towns
    • Williamsburg, Virginia
    • St. Augustine, Florida
    • Charleston, South Carolina
    • Savannah, Georgia
    • Annapolis, Maryland

Budgeting Advice

Vacations can be expensive, but with the right budgeting strategies, you can save money and still have a fantastic experience. Start by setting a budget for your trip, including transportation, accommodation, meals, and activities.

Look for package deals, promotions, or off-peak season travel to find the best value for your money. Consider cooking meals instead of eating out every day and looking for free or low-cost attractions and activities.

5 Tools To Help You Plan and Budget Your Family Summer Vacation

Here are a few tools you can use to help budget your vacation perfectly:

  • TripAdvisor is a great resource for finding travel deals and planning your itinerary. You can also read reviews of hotels, restaurants, and attractions to help you decide where to stay and what to do
  • Google Flights is a great tool for finding cheap flights. You can search for flights by destination, dates, and airlines. Google Flights also shows you a graph of prices over time, so you can see if there are any good deals available.
  • Kayak is another great tool for finding cheap flights. It also allows you to compare prices from different airlines and travel agencies.
  • Skyscanner is a great tool for finding cheap flights and hotels. You can also use Skyscanner to create a price alert, so you’ll be notified when the price of your flight or hotel drops.
  • Budgeting apps like Mint, Goodbudget, EveryDollar, and YNAB can help you track your spending and create a budget for your vacation. These apps can also help you set financial goals and track your progress.

Family-Friendly Accommodations

Choosing the right accommodation is vital to a successful family vacation. Depending on your preferences and budget, options may include hotels, resorts, vacation rentals, or camping.

Look for accommodations that offer family-friendly amenities such as swimming pools, playgrounds, or on-site activities for kids. Consider the location’s proximity to attractions and facilities like grocery stores or pharmacies.

Pro-Tip For Budget Conscious Families: Budget options can be scarce during summer. If you want a better selection of affordable accommodations, then make sure you choose a desti nation that may not be as popular.

Creating an Itinerary

Creating a well-balanced itinerary is crucial to ensure that everyone in the family enjoys their preferred activities. Include a mix of relaxation and adventure, such as sightseeing, exploring nature, and trying new experiences.

Research local attractions and activities suitable for the whole family and prioritize them based on everyone’s interests. Don’t forget to include downtime for relaxation and spontaneous exploration.

Pro-tip: Don’t waste the drive. Make the journey to your destination a part of your vacation by stopping at interesting places along the way. It will give you something to look forward to throughout the drive and it makes your vacation feel longer.

Efficient Packing

Packing efficiently can save you time, money, and unnecessary stress. Make a list of essential items for each family member, considering weather conditions, planned activities, and any specific necessities.

Choose versatile, mixed, matched clothing items, and pack travel-sized toiletries to save space. If traveling with younger kids, don’t forget to bring comfort items, snacks, and entertainment for the journey.

Traveling with Kids

Traveling with kids can be a rewarding experience with a bit of preparation. Keep them entertained during long journeys by packing their favorite toys, books, or electronic devices. Snacks, puzzles, and interactive games can also help keep them engaged.

Plan frequent breaks during road trips or have an itinerary that includes kid-friendly stops along the way. Encourage their involvement in decision-making to make them feel involved and excited about the vacation.

Family-Friendly Dining

Finding suitable dining options while on vacation is essential for everyone’s happiness. Look for family-friendly restaurants that offer various menu options and accommodate dietary preferences or restrictions.

Buffet-style restaurants can be a great choice as they offer a wide selection to please everyone’s taste buds. Research and make early reservations to avoid long waits, especially during peak seasons.

Capturing and Preserving Memories

Preserving the memories of your summer vacation is essential for cherishing those special moments for years to come. Take plenty of photos throughout your trip, capturing scenic views and candid moments of joy and togetherness.

Encourage each family member to document their experiences in a travel journal or create a scrapbook after the trip. You can also create a digital photo album or video slideshow to share with friends and family.

Pro-tip: Taking photos and recording video is hard on your phone’s battery. Consider having a battery bank or other charging solution available so you don’t miss out on the memories!

Additional Resources and Recommendations

Planning a family vacation can be overwhelming, but several resources and tools are available to make the process smoother. Apps like TripIt, Roadtrippers, or AllTrails can assist with trip planning, finding attractions, and mapping out routes.

Online travel forums and review websites can provide valuable insights and recommendations from other families visiting your chosen destination. Don’t hesitate to seek advice and recommendations from friends, family, or travel agencies specializing in family vacations.


Planning a memorable summer vacation for the whole family requires careful consideration of everyone’s interests, budget, and preferences. By choosing the perfect destination, budgeting wisely, creating an itinerary that balances relaxation and adventure, and incorporating tips for traveling with kids, you can ensure a stress-free and enjoyable vacation for everyone. Remember to capture and preserve your precious memories, and most importantly, have fun and cherish the moments spent together as a family.

Jennifer Taylor brings a vibrant flair for storytelling to the Gathered Again team, having joined us in 2023. With a profound love for writing and a knack for capturing the essence of family moments, Jennifer crafts content that inspires and connects, making every reader feel right at home.

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