How to afford a family vacation: Do the free stuff

It’s expensive to travel. Add a couple of kids, and it just gets more expensive. The key to making it more affordable is to find and do the free things wherever you go.

That could mean something as simple as booking a hotel near a community park or as difficult as choosing a destination like St. Louis or Raleigh N.C. that has tons of cool free things to do.

As the travel industry struggles to recover from the recession, lots of destinations are wooing families with the temptation of free things to do once they arrive.

For example, Myrtle Beach, S.C., a great family vacation destination that is known for its golf courses, is offering a deal this summer that lets kids golf free with a paying adult.

Over at, where I’m the editor, we’ve got listings of free things to do in the 50 states. Or just Google the visitors’ Web site for the place you’re planning to visit. Chances are there will be at least a few free things to do once you arrive.

Cindy Richards is the travel writer for Chicago Parent and editor of Got a question about family travel? Email her at

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