Summer Savings: Affordable Last Minute Ideas for Families
4 min

You don’t have to plan for months to take a family vacation that fits your budget. In fact, deciding to go at the last minute can be a time (and stress!) saver. Here are a few tips to make your eleventh-hour escape truly memorable for your whole crew.

Take a last minute road trip and pick your night’s stay along the way.

No need to spend months planning and thousands of dollars on a long-distance plane trip! Pack the car for a last minute road trip and pick your stays along the way! Download Whimstay, and you can find a last minute vacation rental like this three-bedroom, two-bath condo in Kissimmee, Florida, with a full kitchen and private balcony, and save hundreds of dollars every night.

Take a closecation and explore someplace new near home.

Just because the kids are off school doesn’t mean you can take off weeks of work. Take a closecation and explore within a few hours from home, so you aren’t spending several days in transit to your destination! Check out a local area you’ve always wanted to visit but have yet to check out. Book a last minute vacation rental like this private rustic getaway near Pigeon Forge, TN, so your fam can log out, sign off, and enjoy the relaxing sounds of moving water from the Little Pigeon River off the back deck.

Book last minute vacation rentals in places near great camping locations and get the best of both worlds

Get a good dose of outdoor time by mixing in some camping

Mix camping and vacation rentals to save on cash

Heading on a road trip? Consider camping some nights and staying in vacation rentals on others. Interspersing the two means saving money while enjoying beautiful nights under the stars, interspersed with private hot showers and all the amenities you wish. Plus, you may choose to stay in really neat places that cost a little more because you’re not spending money on this type of lodging every night. Live a little! If you’re heading to Branson, MO, stay in a pet-friendly private log cabin with a wood fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows for wildlife watching with the whole family.

Make (and follow!) a regional scavenger hunt.

Get to know your part of the country by doing a multi-day regional scavenger hunt. Start by writing down a few places of interest, like a cool kids’ museum or a lake you’ve heard is great for fishing. Then, think of things you’ve always wanted to do, like check out a new forest or sleep close to water. Create a list with checkboxes and tick off each stop along your route! You might even find an awesome last minute vacation rental like this one near Port Aransas, TX, that checks a box or two (stay in a house on stilts, have your own private dock, swim in a pool next to the ocean).

Invite your buds

Vacation lodging can quickly get expensive. Why pay for it alone? Take a trip with family friends to share the cost of your stay! Invite families with kids your children get along with so everyone has a bud! Look for last minute vacation rentals with several bedrooms and bathrooms to provide privacy and comfort. This cabin in Sevierville can host up to 15 people with four bedrooms and three bathrooms! Plus, it’s tucked in the mountains and has the perfect wrap-around porch for morning coffee or board games with the whole crew!

Look for last minute vacation rentals that are pet friendly to save money on travel

Save on petsitting costs by bringing the beasts along

Stay at places that allow pets

Pets are family. Leaving them at a boarding spot may be stressful for you and them and can quickly be a burden on your vacation budget. Instead of putting Fido up at a kennel, bring her along and stay at a pet-friendly vacation rental. This two-bedroom, two-bathroom cabin near Gatlinburg, TN, is pet-friendly, has a hot tub and pool access, and is super close to a top-notch golf course.

Try a themed tour

Family vacations don’t have to be boring. Amp yours up by picking a theme. Maybe you dig the paranormal and want to go somewhere that offers ghost tours and has a lot of neat places that are rumored to be haunted. Stoked on the sea? Check out a town with a rich maritime history. Foodies can easily create itineraries around finding the best BBQ, cuisine from a specific country or even make a culinary tour based on one ingredient/dish you can’t live without (ice cream!). Florida visitors will get a kick out of staying in this Orlando townhome with themed rooms, like the Star Wars game garage and Toy Story bedroom.

Look for kid discounts everywhere.

Restaurants often offer kids meals that are less expensive than regular ones due to the smaller portions. Theme parks and airlines may offer discounts for people under a certain age or height limit. Some establishments like restaurants even offer discounts for kids with great report cards! Bring a photo of your kids’ last report cards just in case you can save a little money thanks to their good grades. Choose activities, restaurants, and lodging that will help you save money with kid discounts. Look for awesome last minute vacation rentals like this funky boutique hotel in Myrtle Beach, SC, that has a pool so you can enjoy your hotel and not have to pay to go to a waterpark elsewhere.

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