• Have Escape Weekends Without Breaking the Bank

    This article first appeared at U.S. News and World Report Money. My wife and I have three children in elementary school and/or preschool, so the opportunity for “escape weekends” have been few and far between for a very long time. When we get those opportunities – usually thanks to a generous grandparent – we deeply …

  • The Finances of Showing Your Children the World

    This article first appeared on U.S. News and World Report Money. My daughter has dreamed of going to Paris for as long as I can remember. In kindergarten, one of her major art projects involved a paper sculpture of the Eiffel Tower. She’s watched Ratatouille more times than I can count. Whenever she has a …

  • The Traveler’s Dilemma

    Next month, I’m traveling from Des Moines to Indianapolis and making a return trip about five days later. At first glance, it makes a lot of sense to fly. It would take me from Des Moines through Chicago to Indianapolis in about four and a half hours. Alternately, I could drive this trip and it …

  • An Ode to the National Park Service

    Over the past two weeks, Sarah and I combined a tenth anniversary getaway for the two of us along with a family vacation for ourselves, our children, and Sarah’s parents and youngest sister. This meant almost two full weeks of traveling. Along the way, I kept taking notes on the inexpensive and free stuff I …

  • Some Tips for Frugal Conventions

    Once or twice a year, Sarah and I each take a “mini-vacation” of sorts in order to follow up on our individual interests and get a breather from the challenges of parenting three young children. During those “mini-vacations,” the other partner simply handles all of the parenting and household responsibilities for the handful of days …

  • Free and Inexpensive Things to Do in South Dakota

    Recently, I took a weeklong vacation to South Dakota with my wife, my children, and my parents. As always on such trips, Sarah and I try to look for the value. What things did we discover on the trip that were really enjoyable that were also free or nearly so? Here are some of the …

  • Using Group Travel to Save Money

    Last week, I traveled with my wife, my children, and my parents to South Dakota and Wyoming for several days. (I’m planning an article later this week outlining some ways to save money on a vacation to South Dakota.) One of my big ideas for planning the trip was to look for ways to take …

  • Food and Vacation

    Over the next two months, our family is going to be doing some vacationing in various places in the Midwest and Great Plains. The longest trip in that period will be nine days spent in South Dakota and Wyoming with my wife, my children, and my parents. Vacations can be a lot of fun, but …

  • Handling (and Avoiding) Souvenirs and Tourist Traps

    One of the things I really don’t like about vacations is the prevalence of gift shops and souvenir stands near every remotely popular attraction. I particularly don’t like it when you go through a museum exhibit or a tour of some sort, only to find yourself dumped into a gift shop. The children are hungry …

  • How We Plan for a Summer Vacation

    A few days ago, I mentioned that my family and I are going on a summer vacation to South Dakota and eastern Wyoming, where we intend to see Badlands National Park, Black Hills National Forest, Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore, and several other things in the area. Several people wrote to me after that post asking …

  • Planning a Group Vacation

    Two summers ago, my wife, my children, my parents and I all traveled to Texas together, in part to visit relatives but also to enjoy the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Because we took some time to plan the trip in advance and involved everyone going on the trip in the planning, we ended up finding quite …

  • Renting a House as a Vacation Option

    Last week, my wife and family and I departed for the Seattle/Tacoma area in order to be present for the wedding of my wife’s younger sister. While we were in the area, we did some wedding setup, but we also visited a lot of sights in the area, including Mount Rainier, Olympia National Forest, and …

  • Ten Things to Look For When Planning a Summer Vacation (Thanks to Readers)

    After my recent post on planning summer travel, I received a lot of emails from readers near the places we are planning on traveling to: Seattle, Boston, New Orleans, and Orlando. These helpful readers all offered up some great ideas for inexpensive travel to those areas and I saved all of them for future reference …

  • Planning Summer Travel

    This seems rather strange, perhaps, but Sarah and I have our summer plans more or less penciled in through 2015. That’s right, 2015 This summer, we’re going to Seattle. The following summer is a trip to New Orleans with my family. The summer after that will feature a trip to Boston, with the summer after …

  • Minimizing the Cost of Holiday Car Travel

    Like a lot of people this week, our family is traveling by car to a number of Thanksgiving dinners. As I taught the children to sing recently, “On the interstate and across the bridge, to Grandma’s house we go!” Of course, when you’re traveling during the holiday season, you’re opening the door to some potential …

  • Planning for Summer Vacation

    This summer, my wife and I and our three children – a four year old, a two year old, and a baby – are going on at least three different family trips. One will be to downstate Illinois, another will be to northeast Iowa and southwest Wisconsin, and the third will be to northern Minnesota. …

  • Camping Tips for People Who Don’t Like Camping

    Whenever people ask me how to save money on vacations, I always encourage them to consider camping instead of staying in a hotel. We do it often – in fact, I have some very fond memories of camping in Olympia National Forest and on Mount Rainier during our Seattle vacation in ’04 and camping near …

  • Frugal Vacation Notes: Great Free Things to Do in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area

    Over the past week, my wife, my children, my parents and I all went on vacation to the Dallas/Fort Worth area (we had planned a longer road trip, but we made an on-the-fly decision to just stick around DFW). While there, we visited family and saw a large number of sights and events in the …

  • Airport Frugality in the Era of New Security Regulations

    As you read this, I’m likely somewhere in the sky over the western half of the United States. I’ve flown quite a bit over the last decade, but I haven’t flown since the most recent restrictions on carry on items. These restrictions really shoot in the foot most of my strategies for saving money in …