There are lots of ways to make a family vacation more
affordable. You can save money on food by renting a condo with a
kitchen and stopping at the grocery store on your way into town.
You can drive instead of fly. You can stay at the Motel 6 rather
than the Ritz.
But nothing is more
affordable than free. So when you plan your next family vacation,
find at least one free thing to do every day. Here's where to
1. Call the local Chamber of
Commerce or town hall.
Wherever you're visiting,
there is a business organization or a central government agency.
Chances are good whoever answers the phone there is a mom. And no
one knows more about entertaining kids for free than other moms. If
the person who answers the phone isn't a parent or doesn't know
what's cool and free, ask to be transferred to someone else who
does. People love talking about their hometown and sharing their
favorite things to do. While you're chatting, ask for tips on what
not to miss with your family, even if means paying admission.
2. Cruise the web.
Virtually everyone uses the
web to plan a family vacation, but not everyone thinks about
Googling "free things to do in (name of destination)." Be sure to
check the convention and tourism bureau for the locale as well.
Most list free things to do under their family section. Some
cities, such as Raleigh, N.C., and St. Louis, have tons of free
things to do, including major attractions such as the zoo and big
museums. But all cities have parks, free programs at the library,
park district offerings and other free events staged primarily for
local residents, but open to anyone.
3. Ask a mom.
If you haven't figured out
the free things to do before you arrive, plan a stop at the local
playground on your first day in town. Go during prime playtime and
hit up the moms of kids similar in age to yours. They are almost
always happy to share their secrets for entertaining kids. (See
point No. 1 above).
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.
Let us plan your weekend with the best family events and activities in Chicagoland.
Start the week right with deals, prizes, parent life hacks and more delivered straight to your inbox.
Need last-minute ideas for a weekend of family fun? No worries. We've got you.
Get the inside scoop on the people, places and things we are loving right now.
Resources, tips, inspiration and more for parents of children with special needs.
Score exclusive offers from our fabulous advertisers.