Surviving Family Vacation!

July is prime summer vacation time! Many frugally minded folks choose to spend their sparse vacation time with family or friends because it can be a smart financial choice.

Side note, did you know that American workers have like the fewest vacation days of any developed country? Too bad time off boosts productivity…… Anyway…..

Back to family vacation! Too many people in one place can definitely grate on everyone’s nerves, but I recently had a hugely successful vacation with family and I though I’d share a couple tips for surviving it with your wits intact. At the bottom is a list of some more frugal travel articles I’ve read and enjoyed.

COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE. Try to be very clear with your expectations when staying with loved ones. Don’t just assume you can show up. We’ve all seen those National Lampoon movies—you know, Griswolds?

Maybe your family doesn’t want to play tourist for the week. Maybe they expect you to want to eat out for every meal. Maybe they have a routine that they don’t want to upset—or that they’re desperately hoping to shake up! In any case, a quick and honest convo beforehand will set up happy expectations for everyone.

This is pretty close to what I said when I asked my brother if I could stay with his family for nearly a week:

Hey! I’m thinking about going on a small vacation in your city and I was wondering if I could stay with you for a few days. I want to keep things frugal, so I don’t expect to spend a lot of money on expensive activities or eating out, and I’m more than happy to work with your schedule. I can even babysit for you if want some grown-up time away from the chaos. What do you think?


GO TO THE LIBRARY. If you’re staying with friends or family, there’s a good chance at least one of them has a library card. Make sure to check out their resources before you leave home—you might be surprised at what’s available. During the first leg of my vacation, I visited family in New Mexico where you can check out a pass that gets you and up to six adults into several of the art and history museums in the area. Free museums, y’all!

If the libraries where you’re visiting don’t offer a program like New Mexico’s museum pass, they likely have other activities you can do for free. Recently I met one of my favorite authors at the library down the street from my house. And of course, nothing compares to lying out in the sun with a good book. Just make sure to pack the sunscreen!

So that’s my advice, but don’t take it all from me. Here are some more helpful resources for planning your frugal family vacation

133 Frugal Travel Tips
Think like a local, not like a tourist
Vacationing on a Budget


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