Travel Guru Samantha Brown Makes Family Vacations Doable on Any Budget

Samantha Brown You've seen her on the Travel Channel gallivanting around the world to the most exotic of locales, but when it comes down to the best vacations for families, Samantha Brown says sometimes the simplest trips are the best ones. While we'd all love to dash off to stay at a five-star resort, that's not a realistic scenario for many families, and she says it's not necessary to create lasting family memories

I caught up with Samantha recently to talk about her current involvement with our nation's national parks and to get some tips for traveling on the cheap with kids in tow.

What are some of your fondest memories of traveling as a child?


My childhood memories involve loading up into station wagon and going to Canada or Pennsylvania. We had a cooler in the back with sandwiches my mom packed, and stayed in motor lodges. Now you see me staying in five-star hotels, but my beginnings are much more nostalgic.


What mistakes do you think parents make when traveling with children today?


There are so many children’s groups and teen groups and other options for kids at various hotels, but maybe we shouldn’t keep them that busy. Vacation is the time to really tune in to your kids and not overschedule them. Spend time with them. It’s also more affordable that way if you don’t have to sign up for that $75-a-day kids’ club.


And make sure you unplug. Vacations are a time to talk, so when you’re in the car, find facts about states as you go through them to discuss, play games, enjoy one another.


You’ve teamed up with Nature Valley to help raise money and awareness for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). Why do you think our national parks make such great destinations for families?


I’m so proud to be involved in this project. Our national parks teach our kids about our beginnings as a country, how we affect nature, and what our presence means. There are almost 400 national parks in the United States, and trips to them are both educational and fun and can really instill a sense of curiosity and wonder in kids from a young age. I really wonder about kids today – where’s that curiosity if they just sit in front of a video game. This country was hard fought for and it’s never too early to learn that.


Also, national parks are extremely inexpensive -- admission is about the price of a movie ticket, if even that. The system is there for the people no matter who you are.


Why are vacations important for families?


What makes travel so special is that it marks a new beginning. We all need it in our lives. It doesn't have to be going across the continent; it can be in your own state. Though I don’t believe in staycations, I believe you need to get away.


What tips do you have for traveling on the cheap?  


Look at your own state -- state tourism websites are fabulous. Local business will advertise for cheaper hotel rates and coupons for restaurants; it’s a great portal of information and budget deals. Also, always make breakfast your biggest meal. it’s the cheapest and most important, then have a lighter lunch and dinner.

What are your family's vacation plans this summer? Which national parks have you visited?

Image via BusinessWire

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nonmember avatar Mathieu

Regardless of your vacation methods, the memories arise from families enjoying each others company. It is often the minor actions, such as that talk you had with your eldest whilst sitting in some smelly airport, or when find suitable apartments. The moment of creating a memory of warmth and togetherness can be achieved through doing very little.

amy7243 amy7243

We need all the cheap tricks we can get for trips. We never get to go on vacations :(

elasmimi elasmimi

We just spent a fortune taking the grandkids (from Alaska) to WDW. They could not tolerate the heat, and spent most of their time at the hotel pool. Just got back from the Smokey Moutains, and they say they liked it much better there. Next time we'll spend more time just chillin together!

MamaM... MamaMandee

Thanks for the tips! We have a few camping trips planned and one big trip to a local amusement park.

ceciliam ceciliam

I'm not sure what we will do this Summer.

lalas... lalasmama2007

We'll be going to the shore like we normally do.

godde... goddess99

1st I love Samantha Brown. We are just planning on going to a zoo and an iron mine this summer.

Bob192 Bob192

We are really blessed with kids that love the outdoors.  All of our vacations are planned around camping.  They are really happy to be outside and away from all the technology.  I'm sure they'd love to live that way, don't know if I could.

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