6 Affordable Kid-Free Vacation Ideas
Vacationing with your children may be the stuff memories are made of, but it's also a lot of work. In between moments of relaxation and travel-induced excitement, you do have to take care of them, after all.
Kids need meals and clean clothes, and they tend to ask a million and one questions — especially when they're somewhere new. And if you have kids in diapers or little ones who can't walk on their own, well, you can forget about having much of a "vacation" at all.
Now, let's say you get a chance to vacation without the kids. Sounds like a dream come true, right? It is, except that you may not be able to justify spending a lot of cash when you have kids at home. With that in mind, it's smart to look for trips that let you enjoy some kid-free time without breaking the bank. Here are a few options to consider.
1. Pet-sit somewhere new
If your budget is pretty small and you're willing to go almost anywhere, a pet-sitting gig may be an option you want to explore.
TrustedHousesitters.com, the biggest international housesitting and pet-sitting website, allows you to search for jobs all over the globe. You don't get paid for these gigs, but you can score a free Airbnb-style vacation experience if you're willing to watch pets while their owner is away.
Where can you go? A quick look at the website shows homes requiring pet care in destinations like New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Hawaii, and Dubai. While these destinations can be expensive to fly to, you may be able to get your flights covered for free with the right combination of travel credit cards.
There are plenty of more realistic and closer options as well, ranging from Las Vegas to Denver to Orlando, Florida. Most of these gigs require you to care for a few cats, a dog, or some chickens for a few days or a few weeks.
Competition can be stiff for attractive destinations, so you'll need to build an attractive profile and gather a few references. But then start bidding on the destinations of your dreams. It's a great way to score free accommodations in an interesting setting. (See also: 10 Tips for Landing the Perfect House-Sitting Gig)
2. Book a discount cruise
Don't like the idea of watching pets? Consider a discount cruise somewhere warm or, even more importantly, quiet. You can book fairly inexpensive seven-night cruises to destinations like the Caribbean starting at around $449 per person, and these cruises include your lodging, entertainment, and three meals a day at one price.
To find the best deals, consider low-cost cruise lines like Carnival and MSC Cruises. Also look for a cruise port you can drive to, which will vary depending on where you live. If you can skip airfare and drive to a cruise port in New Orleans, Louisiana; Florida; Galveston, Texas, or New York City, for example, you can reduce the costs of your trip considerably.
VacationstoGo.com is a solid place to search for discount cruises or just compare prices, and that's particularly true if you can cruise last-minute. The website's 90-day ticker connects you with unsold cruise cabins on soon-to-depart cruises for up to 82 percent off. Since not all cruises carry that kind of discount, you should also make sure to compare prices with cruises you book directly. (See also: 6 Money-Saving Items to Bring on Your Next Cruise)
3. Be reclusive at an all-inclusive
Booking an all-inclusive resort can be similar to booking a cruise since your accommodation, food, and entertainment is included for one low price. Many all-inclusive resorts are also marketed to adults only, meaning you won't have to deal with anyone's children. (See also: 11 Ways to Get the Most from Your All-Inclusive Vacation)
There are plenty of all-inclusive resorts you can book with rewards as well, including the adults-only Hyatt Zilara properties in Cancun, Mexico and Montego Bay, Jamaica. Both properties cost 25,000 Hyatt points per night based on double occupancy, but include your food, drink (with alcohol), and fun in the nightly rate. (See also: All-Inclusive Resorts You Can Book For Free With Points)
You will likely have to fly to all-inclusive resorts since the majority are located outside the U.S. But a good airline credit card strategy could help you score round-trip flights for free. The Southwest Rapid Rewards program is a good option for flights to the Caribbean since you get two free checked bags and flights frequently go on sale, but JetBlue can work well too, provided they fly out of your home airport. (See also: Best Co-Branded Airline Credit Cards)
If you're not into the resort scene and really just want to relax, camping can also work for a kid-free trip. It will certainly be a lot easier — and less stressful — with only yourself to care for versus your entire crew.
Camping can also be inexpensive if you choose a frugal trip versus "glamping" in a luxury cabin rental. You may be able to borrow a tent from a family member or friend and camp for little more than the cost of a camping spot at a state park, which could be less than $15 per night without electricity. Bring a cooler of food, a good book, and some fishing gear and you could get away for almost nothing. (See also: 6 Essential Money-Saving Items to Take on a Camping Road Trip)
5. Carefree beach vacation
A beach trip can be frugal if you're able and willing to skip the big mega-resorts and book something inexpensive instead. Imagine yourself in an affordable Airbnb for the week in a beachfront destination like Panama City, Florida, for example. You won't need a huge place, since the kids will be at home, so a one-bedroom or studio condo should work great. Condos that could work start at less than $90 per night. (See also: 6 Affordable Beach Destinations)
If you don't live anywhere near the ocean, don't discount the possibility of booking a lakefront cabin, either. Tons of waterfront options are available on websites like Airbnb and VRBO.com, but you should look for deals within driving distance.
Why is the beach such an affordable option? Because water provides a lot of activities. Depending on where you are, you could partake in a number of affordable pursuits that range from fishing, to stand-up paddle boarding, to kayaking, to good ol' swimming. Or, you could curl up in a hammock and listen to the waves while you read, paint, draw, or sit by a campfire. Book a place with a basic kitchen, and you may not even have to leave.
6. Winery weekend
A winery weekend is a trip that's hard to pull off with the kids in tow. But when you're kid-free, you can have your wine, learn about it, and drink it, too. Of course, you can drive to Napa, California to sample locally grown grapes and stay in fancy resorts, but don't forget there may be wineries closer to home, too.
In Michigan, there are actual wine trails to explore — or, at least, strings of wineries and breweries you can visit one after another with hotel stops in between. This option can be affordable since you get to choose where you stay along the way.
If you don't want to drive, you can also book a winery weekend at an adjacent hotel or a winery with a hotel on-site. A Romanza Suite at the South Coast Winery Resort & Spa in Temecula, California starts at just $219 per night, for example.
You can stay right on-site, pay $15 to $20 per person for wine tastings and even take a winery tour complete with wine and charcuterie.
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