Posted on: 29 October 2017
As long distance travel costs mount, many families are opting to visit some of the amazing locations closer to home. America's national parks are among the most popular destinations in the country, with nearly 331 million visitors during 2016.
If you want to add a national park to your family holiday, here are 4 ways to save money and have fun.
Stay Outside the Park. National park lodging options can be hard to book and often cost a lot of money for full families. A much better lodging option is usually to stay in the local community right outside the park. Large national parks often have several different towns that provide lodging as little as a few minutes' drive outside the entrance. Yellowstone National Park, for example, is next door to towns like Cody, Wyoming and West Yellowstone, Montana, where lodging is much less expensive.
Buy a Pass. If you're going to more than one facility covered by the National Park Service, it's a good idea to buy an annual pass that usually allows you and several others to enter the parks for free. Currently, annual passes cost $80 for most people and are free for those with permanent disabilities. Seniors can also get a lifetime pass for the discounted rate. If you've considered planning a family trip with Grandma or Grandpa, this is a great reason to do so now.
Look for Free Parks. It may surprise people to know that not all national parks charge an entrance fee. The very popular Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Redwood National Park in California, for example, are open to the public with no entrance fee. And kid-friendly places like Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado often come with a minimal charge of three or five dollars per person. Check out the individual park's website to make sure there are no additional costs, such as parking.
Pack Food and Souvenirs. Like any attraction that has an entrance fee, national parks often suffer high prices inside the facilities. Avoid some of this cost by planning ahead. Pack coolers in the car with the kids' favorite beverages and snacks. Bring small backpacks to carry water and snacks while exploring. And check with your place of lodging to learn about the restaurant options just outside the park entrances. Remember that your entrance fee covers as many times in and out as are necessary that day. Finally, consider buying the kids some nature- or animal-themed souvenirs online and giving them out while you're inside the park.
Visiting U.S. national parks is a great, budget-friendly family road trip. And by following these easy tips, you can make it even less stressful on your wallet and more fun for everyone.Share