Save Money Traveling With Free Attractions

2813214_sWe have a family of five, so we have to be a bit conservative with our money. That means when we plan a vacation, we can’t simply choose based on a particular locale we want to visit.  We have to carefully consider how much the vacation will cost us overall.

Most people do this by considering the price of accommodations and travel to and from the vacation city.  Sure, those factors are important, but they don’t tell the whole story.

My husband has attended conferences for work throughout the United States. The kids and I tag along, so we’ve had the opportunity to travel to many areas of the country.  What we’ve discovered is that accommodations and transportation are only part of the financial consideration.  Perhaps even more important is the price of the attractions in the area.

Free Attractions Cut Your Vacation Expenses

For instance, when we traveled to Washington, D.C., we were pleasantly surprised by how many free attractions there were.  We stayed 4 days, and every site we saw was free except when we visited Ford Theater.  Even though our hotel room was more than $200 a night, by bringing our own food and eating in the hotel room, as well as visiting free attractions, that vacation was one of our most affordable.

By contrast, we recently visited Atlanta.  The hotel room was a bit cheaper, though only a bit. However, the only free attraction we could find was a visit to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s childhood home.  We took advantage of that, but many attractions were out of our price range.  We did go to the Georgia Aquarium, but that ran our family almost $200!  Other things we wanted to do but didn’t because of the price were tour the CNN studios, which would cost another $66 and ride the Ferris wheel, which would have cost over $50 for a less than 20 minute attraction!

How To Determine How Many Free Events a City Has

If you have a medium sized to large family as we do, free attractions can make the difference between an affordable and fun vacation, or a budget busting one.  Here are some strategies we use to determine how many free events a city has:

19275896_s1.  Search the web for “free things to do” in the city you’re thinking of traveling to.  For instance, you might type, “free things to do in St. Louis.”  If you find a lot of free attractions, great.  This might be a good city to visit.

2.  Look for National Park Service (NPS) tours.  In both Atlanta and Boston, we took advantage of free National Park tours.  In Atlanta, it was to see King’s birthplace home and in Boston, we took two free walking tours around the city of Boston.  To see if the city you’re visiting has free NPS attractions, visit www.nps.gov.

3.  If you don’t find a lot of free attractions, all is not lost.  Many cities have low cost attractions.  For instance, we supplemented the free NPS tours in Boston with a visit to Paul Revere’s house. This only cost our family $8 total and a visit to the Old State House, which cost our entire family $20.

For our family, finding free attractions in a city is one of the ways we save money on vacation.  The more people who are traveling with you, the better the savings.

What are your favorite strategies to save while on vacation?

Posted in: Travel

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