I admit it: I was bitten by the travel bug when I was very young, and now there are very few things that I like as much as traveling. Over the years, my wife and I have taken our family to incredible places. But there was a big difference between our trips and those of many vacationers; We didn’t have excessive amounts of cash to spend when we went on vacation, so we learned to travel cheap, while still having a great time doing it.
From the beginning, I want you to know that I do not intend to detail all the places you should go on your next vacation, but that I am going to show you HOW to make your next vacation economically. If you are an exclusive Disney fan, then you might as well stop reading this article right now, because when you consider the high cost of admission and food inside the park, there is no cheap way to go. However, if you’re not stuck in the expensive BIG NAME Florida theme parks, I can offer you some great options.
Our journey begins at my family’s favorite destination: Gatlinburg, TN, home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. East Tennessee is a very family-friendly vacation destination, offering plenty of options for budget-conscious travelers, and can be enjoyed for much less than most people think.
Not only that, but all of the cost-cutting vacation ideas I’m going to share with you can also be applied to many of your family’s favorite vacation spots.
1. Don’t spend a lot of money on luxurious hotel rooms. You can save a lot of money by renting a log cabin. Cabins cost roughly the same per night as hotel rooms, but are a more affordable option. Why? There you can have one or more meals, every day, and you can usually find cabin rentals with free third or fourth night deals. Do you want to save even more money? Ask another family to go on vacation with you; then you can split the cost of the cabin and your common meals.
2. Have breakfast, lunch or dinner in your cabin. Doesn’t that sound great? Oh, but it is. Many of the cabins in the Gatlinburg area offer fantastic views of the mountains or are located next to a stream. If you are looking for a place to get away from it all and spend some time relaxing, even a couple of hours a day, then a log cabin is the one for you. Even if you don’t want to cook, you can save money by stocking up on a few staples and eating breakfast at the cottage, or eating a roast chicken and potato salad for dinner, instead of spending a lot more money at a restaurant.
3. Spend a day in the National Park. It is shocking to read the statistics of how many people come to Gatlinburg and never set foot in the national park. And that’s a shame. Speaking personally, some of our most enjoyable moments, as a family, are spent tubing, wading, or having a picnic by one of the streams in the park. Not sure where to go? That is an easy fix. Drive to Sugarlands Nature Center (on the outskirts of town) and ask a ranger. They are very knowledgeable and will help you get on your way safely and quickly.
4. Take a walk! Literally. With nearly 900 miles of trails, dozens of waterfalls, hundreds of scenic overlooks, and natural areas available, the Smokies offer something for almost every outdoor enthusiast. And best of all: the trails are classified by degree of difficulty and length. So whether you are a beginner or an expert hiker, you can find a trail that is right for you. Are the trails safe for children? Many of the trails and outdoor sites are rated family-friendly. Need help? Again, ask a Ranger.
5. Go to Dollywood. I told them I had good news for theme park junkies. Dollywood is a large, family-friendly park, packed with great attractions, has a water park, music performances at various venues, all day, and to top it off, the park offers very affordable food and drinks. Tired of spending thousands of dollars on theme parks, then go see Dolly. Dollywood will present you with affordable vacation options. Helpful Hint: If you plan on spending multiple days in the park, which we’ve done, consider purchasing season passes. They are very affordable and will save you a bundle in the long run. Who to ask Call Dollywood or ask one of their helpful salespeople. They will guide you in the right direction and do so with a smile.
6. Hang out on Main Street. But before you do, be sure to set a spending limit. If you don’t predetermine your spending limit, you can quickly break your bank along Gatlinburg’s main street. But here are some fun options: Instead of buying whole family meals, at some of the most expensive restaurants in town, treat the kids to an Ogle Dog, or after dinner, buy them some baked goods from Donut Friar. , hang out in some shops or enjoy a round of mountain miniature golf.
7. Take the kids to school early shopping and save a bundle! I never thought I could really save money on vacation, did I? Well, in Gatlinburg (Pigeon Forge), you really can. How? Take a day out and go shopping at the Belz or Tangers Outlet malls. You’ll find incredible deals on clothing, shoes, and back-to-school items from well-known brands at hundreds of stores.
8. Rainy day? No problem in Gatlinburg. Get the kids in the car and drive to one of Knoxville’s malls. They’re less than an hour away and offer great indoor fun for everyone. Don’t you want to drive that far? Then, stop at the Smoky Mountain Knife Works or Bass Pro Shop. Both are huge stores and will provide hours of entertainment.
9. Fishing trips create memories. Bring your rod and reel, grab some bait, and go soak a line in a nearby mountain stream or lake. Fishing licenses can be obtained locally, along with all the free tips you’ll need to have a great time outdoors. What fish are available? Mountain trout is my favorite, but the area also offers some great bass and shit fishing.
10. Wildlife viewing is an amazing and affordable option. Grab a picnic lunch, take the family in the van, and head to Cataloochie to see some elk, Cades Cove for the deer, and the Roaring Fork for the bears. Don’t forget to bring your camera and binoculars too, because everyone likes to see wildlife up close. But remember: wild creatures are best viewed from the safety of your vehicle – this is not a petting zoo. So bring your binoculars and get safe views, without endangering the animals or your family.
I can’t believe we got to ten so fast. Looks like I just scratched the surface. Which, I suppose, I did. But, at least you get the idea. Now that I have started the thought process for you, I am sure you will be able to come up with many more money saving ideas of your own.
Great vacations can be cheap, if you do them the right way! But remember; If you really want to create good memories, then you need to spend quality time together. Because when all is said and done, the kids won’t remember another restaurant meal, but they’ll never forget the good times they spent together swimming in a Smoky Mountain stream, watching elk graze in a mountain meadow, or catching a nine-inch trout. . in ice water, in the middle of July.