Top Picks for Fun and Affordable Travel

The average vacation budget for a family of four is about $4,580, which translates to approximately $1,145 per person for travel, food, lodging, and activities. However, with the economy facing rising inflation and higher costs, will fewer families have the budget for a trip this year? 

Since 2020, inflation caused by the pandemic has significantly affected families – especially considering how many lay-offs occurred during the COVID era, resulting in job loss and financial insecurity.  

The Labor Department reported that U.S. wages rose 4.6%, but many Americans still face the lingering effects of inflation.

So where can families go if they’re looking for an escape through a much-needed vacation?

Below are the best travel destinations for families and how to save extra cash! 

Hershey, Pennsylvania

Hersheypark is a popular destination for families with children, with more than 70 attractions, including roller coasters and kiddie rides. And, of course, you can get plenty of Hershey chocolate treats!

How can families save money while visiting this famous amusement park? Some options include purchasing one-day tickets online for $84.95 each, with free admission for children two years old and younger. 

With its spring weekend operations running from April 1st to May 21st, families can take advantage of the free preview plan, which allows families to present their tickets at the park’s main entrance before their full-day visit to get two extra hours of fun for free! 

If families stay at the official resorts of Hersheypark, they can receive three free hours of fun in the park the night before their full day. 

For a two-day family getaway for two adults and two children, book early with the Hershey 

Lodges for prices ranging from $199 to $399 on weekdays in April. For weekend park-goers, the prices rise to $449 for a two-day family stay. 

Hershey Lodges’ prices will increase in May, with most weekday deals ranging from $249 to $549. The sharp price rise is due to limited availability, so book early for April to find the best deals. 


Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, is the home of 500 geysers, hot springs, and canyons. Yellowstone is the perfect vacation spot if your family loves a good hike and outdoor adventure.

For families that love the outdoors with plenty of hiking opportunities, there are affordable entry fees. Entering the park costs $35 per vehicle, $30 per motorcycle, and $15 per person without a car. 

So, depending on their proximity to Yellowstone, families can decide what works best for their budget. 

Best of all, families can pack their essentials without buying new supplies. For example, families with plenty of water packed for pre-planned activities can save money if they don’t pay for extra excursions. 

Also, by bringing food from home, families can save about $132 per person while on vacation. And what better excuse to pack homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than a trip to the great outdoors? 

Explore what Yellowstone offers by hitting up the main attractions: Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot 

Spring, and the Grand Canyon. 

Because camping on-site within the Yellowstone premises is expensive, find more affordable lodging outside the National Park. If you are traveling on a budget, West Yellowstone, Gardiner, and the Cooke City Lodges are a few inexpensive places to stay. 

Washington, D.C.

For a city setting, a family can get by budgeting on vacation in Washington, D.C. The American historical sites are worth the trip, especially if the kids need more of an educational outing. Plus, with the warm weather rolling in, the cherry blossoms will begin blooming at the Tidal Basin. 

Because most of the monuments and museums are free of charge, it’s easy to cut costs. Visit famous sites like the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, Memorial Museums, and White House without worry. 

Find good deals on hotels in D.C. for April and May, with prices ranging between $300 and $600 for a family of four. Of course, the hotel’s proximity to sites and room availability affect the costs. So, families should book in advance if they plan to stay overnight. 

Flying to D.C. gets expensive, with prices between $1,684 to $3,812 for economy seats, so families on a budget should opt for a road trip. On average, a one-week trip costs around $964 for two people with an affordable hotel. 

Families can remain within this price if they bring their food and limit eating at restaurants. 

Bangor and the Maine Highlands

Home to more than 200 waterfalls, the Maine Highlands is the most-visited hotspot for families looking to enjoy outdoor activities for a vacation.  

From wildlife sightings to mountain climbing, every inch of this destination is recreational. Families can go hiking, water rafting, and fishing and even try to spot the elusive moose while enjoying the natural beauty of Maine. 

Check out nearby Baxter State Park, which has an admission price of $15 per person for non-Maine residents and is free for Maine residents! 

Even in the spring, Maine temperatures can be chilly during the day and freezing at night, so spending money to camp on-site is probably not a good idea. Instead, families can find affordable lodging in Bangor, Orono, and Greenville, with rates starting at $180 per night.  

Custer State Park, South Dakota

Custer State Park is a popular destination in South Dakota that can’t be missed. Covering an area of 71,000 acres in the Black Hills, Custer State Park is a resort full of wildlife and outdoor exploration. 

This destination is more notable than most because of the abundance of buffalo and goats roaming the vast hills. Families can enjoy the gorgeous views and explore the natural surroundings for an unforgettable vacation. 

Admission to the park for a temporary license for one to seven days is $20 per vehicle. 

Stay at affordable hotels nearby, like the Comfort Inn and Suites Custer, with one week’s prices starting at $84 per night! 

Families will save money by bringing their food and any outdoor equipment. 

Thousand Islands, New York

With over 1,864 tiny islands floating on the St. Lawrence River, families can have the outdoor water adventure of their dreams at Thousand Islands, New York. 

Thousand Islands has multiple water-related activities like fishing, boating, and rafting. This hotspot is also famous for its classic castles, with visitor fares varying between castles and tours. 

However, families can save money by purchasing bundled tickets to Boldt Castle and the Yacht House. Adult tickets for anyone age 13 and older are $12.50, tickets for children from five to 12 years old are $9, and children four years and under get in free. 

Thousand Islands has multiple resorts and lodges for your stay, such as Honeyville Manor and Bonnie Castle Resort & Marina. They have very affordable rates, starting at $68 to $120. Families can also choose to stay at several different campgrounds and cottages.

Inflation has triggered higher costs everywhere. Still, families can still save money by budgeting and cutting costs where they can help with travel expenses to have a fantastic vacation. 

This article was produced by Financially Well Off and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Author: Christopher Alarcon

Title: Journalist

Expertise: personal finance, side hustles, time management


Christopher Alarcon is a journalist with a deep passion for personal finance. He has contributed to major online publications, including MSN, Wealth of Geeks, and Business Insider.