One of the most common questions about traveling with a family I am asked is about how we afford it. While we have written about how to make money on the road and about traveling slow as important ways we afford travel, one of the most important ways to save money is to travel to cheap places. Hotels and restaurants in Paris will cost a lot more than hotels and restaurants in Belgrade. With that in mind, here is a list of wonderful family destinations that will also be easy on your wallet.
Belgrade has a great central location in Eastern Europe, making it fairly easy and cheap to fly in and out of. It is a great city for walking, with main pedestrian streets in the center of the city, and large free family parks on the river. There are many public playgrounds around the city, though in varying states of upkeep. Hotels and short term apartment rentals are relatively inexpensive. People are friendly, and babies are especially adored. There are lots of cafes with great snacks for kids like boreks, a pastry stuffed with cheese, and family-like restaurants that serve huge portions.
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico
San Cristobal isn’t quite so easy to get to unless you fly into Tuxtla, but it is worth the trip to get there. It is a lovely small town, with a proportionally large community of international families. There are plenty of hotels for every budget. The surrounding countryside is particularly beautiful and it is easy to take a bus or taxi to explore underground caves or countryside parks with small waterfalls. Finally, tacos are one food the whole family can agree on!
Prague, Czech Republic
Okay, so Prague might not be exactly off the beaten path, but it is worth putting up with the extra tourists and the rising prices to enjoy this gem of a city. The beautiful old city has gorgeous architecture, complete with castles and mansions. The zoo is enormous and a family could easily spend a whole day exploring there. There are hotels for every budget from hostels to five star. Prague is in the heart of Europe, and there are many budget flights and buses to neighboring locations. While it may not be as cheap as it once was, it is certainly possible to stay within a budget while exploring this city.
Krakow is a bustling city with a beautiful old city. It is very easy to walk around and full of cheap cafes and restaurants. Families will especially appreciate the large central square where children can run around a little and enjoy the street performers. The city itself is very walkable with nice parks. It is also a great starting point to enjoy the surrounding countryside or go on a day trip to the salt mines. It easy to get bus or rail connections to other cities in Europe.
Get children excited about history by exploring the pirate stories that took place in this city. The old city of Cartagena is a wonderful place to explore and there are plenty of street performers. The beaches right in the city aren’t the best, but just outside the city you can find beautiful, quiet beaches the whole family will enjoy.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Again, not quite off the beaten trail but Laos hasn’t traditionally been a family travel destination. If your family is headed to southeast Asia, Luang Prabang is a lovely stop. The city has lots of temples to explore as wells as markets and delicious restaurants and plenty of coffee shops. On the banks of the Me Kong River, there are beautiful waterfalls just outside the city. There is also an elephant refuge, what kid would pass on the chance to ride an elephant?
Suchitoto, El Salvador
If you are looking for a Central American destination that is not overrun by tourists, El Salvador may be the place to go. It has beautiful, quiet beaches and small towns. Suchitoto is a small town located just an hour outside of the capital of San Salvador on the banks of a lake. The center of town has a nice square with some small coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants. Eat some pupusas, a thick tortilla stuffed with cheese, beans, meat, or even flowers. But be careful, they are addictive!
When choosing a family destination, think about what everyone in your family likes. For example, art museums are not on the top of our lists as things we want in a destination, but all of us are happy on the beach. Remember that if you are traveling on a budget, you want to go to places where there are lots of free things to do and explore. That’s why on this list I tried to include many cities with old sections that are interesting to walk around, parks, or near beautiful countryside. Don’t let your budget stop you from getting your family out to explore the world.