Planning a family vacation without breaking the bank

There are plenty of ways to plan a family vacation without breaking the bank. Photo: Todd DeFeo

PHILADELPHIA, August 15, 2013 — At first blush, it’s easy to write off family vacations as stressful and little more than a threat to the checkbook.

That doesn’t have to be the case. There are plenty of ways to plan a trip without breaking the bank.

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Family trips, at a minimum, provide a chance for bonding and time together away from the everyday routine. Such excursions also offer the opportunity for a great educational experience — especially when the itinerary includes a visit to a place that played a major role in the country’s history, for example.

“You don’t need to spend the big bucks for a theme park type vacation where you need to pass through a gift shop at every turn and take a second mortgage on your house to pay for multi-park passes for the entire family in order to make everyone happy,” said Alisa Abecassis, a family travel expert and travel blogger at

“You don’t need to have a glamorous and expensive experience for it to be memorable, interesting and fun,” Abecassis added. “I would really like to encourage families to ‘road trip’ throughout the USA and find out what makes this country so amazing — to discover and learn about our history, to understand and appreciate our incredible diversity, and to create incredible memories by spending time exploring together as families.”

Just as history helps tell the story of any location, so too does food. Whether it’s “cactus candy in New Mexico, grits in Georgia (or) Memphis Barbeque,” Abecassis notes “food is a fantastic way to experience and “soak up the flavor” of wherever you are visiting.”

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“They say smell and taste are some of the strongest triggers for memories, and it’s very true,” Abecassis said. “Some of our fondest memories have involved some truly wonderful and some absolutely awful things we’ve tasted but they are memories that we share and they always bring a smile.

“My kids still laugh about the time when I let everyone order two slices of pie each at the Norsk Nook restaurant in Oseo, WI,” Abecassis added. “We ended up with eight slices of pie on the table and conducted a pie tasting. Each and every one was absolutely amazing and everyone had a different favorite. To this day, whenever we see pie on a menu, we talk about our pie tasting in Wisconsin.”

Of course, a disorganized trip can easily lead to disaster. So, take note of these three simple organizational tips Abecassis offers:

1. “Keep a small notebook or folder with all your travel materials (tickets, car rental reservations, hotel reservations etc.) I print hard copies of all emails and tickets. In the event there is no Internet or reservations are mysteriously lost, I have a copy.”

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2. “Assign a place for essential items and always return them back to that place. As an example, I always put my valet ticket in my back pocket of my jeans; my phone charger always goes in the top pocket of my backpack. No exceptions. This way I always know where to look, and I don’t stress as I know it will always be exactly where I put it.”

3. “Buy a carabiner and clip your keys to your bag, fanny pack or even your belt loop. You’ll always know where they are and you’ll be stress free never having to search for them.”

And remember to have fun. 

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Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo jouned The Washington Times Communities in May 2012. He covers travel and Georgia. A marketing professional who never gave up his award-winning journalistic ways, DeFeo revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He also serves as editor of The Travel Trolley.


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