How to Have a Budget Friendly Vacation at National Parks {Guest Post}

National Park

Planning an affordable vacation can be a daunting task. With travel and activity expenses, meals, and packing essentials, costs can really start to add up. It’s easy to grow bored of the old “staycation” in your city; you want to get out and explore! Little do most people know, national parks have a lot to offer in terms of a vacation experience. With over 400 national parks throughout the U.S., the beautiful scenery and loads of free activities are a surefire way to a centsible, good time. The following tips below will show you how to have a budget-friendly vacation by visiting a national park.

The less you have to travel, the cheaper it will be

With the sheer number and coverage of the National Park System, you’ll be sure to find one within a reasonable distance of your home. Remember, airplane tickets and gas prices add up, especially if you’re traveling long distances. If you can, pack your family or friends into a large vehicle and minimize costs by carpooling. Use our Find A Park tool to find a national park near you.

Mother Nature makes for a great hotel

Mountains National Park

Save money by choosing to camp outdoors instead of staying in a nearby hotel. You can find accommodating campgrounds at any national park. Choose an area with a temperament climate so you don’t freeze or get dehydrated in extreme weather conditions. Climates can vary from extremes, season by season, so it’s important to pack appropriately and to watch the weather. Bring sleeping bags, tents, and other camping necessities to create your own comfortable home away from home. Another great benefit of camping is that you can pack your own food and prepare it over a fire, skipping the costs of pricey restaurant food.

Cut costs on activities

National parks all over the country offer a wide variety of free activities each month. Whether it’s a fun-filled fright night for Halloween fun in the fall, rides on the Polar Express in the winter, or a 4th of July fest in the summer, national parks have something for everyone.  This winter was the 91st annual National Tree Lighting Ceremony in President’s Park in Washington, D.C. you can watch videos and see the tree lighting ceremony at You can view performances featuring the Avett Brothers, Joshua Bell, Mariah Carey, Janelle Monáe, and more!

Check out National Park Service’s calendar for an event near you. And don’t forget about the fun you can find in nature! From skiing in the winter to swimming in the summer, each national park has something special to offer no matter what season. For more information on planning a vacation to a national park, you can also check out the National Park Foundation.

This is a guest post on behalf of the National Park Foundation.

Source for photos: Wikipedia, National Park Service

About Kelly

is the founder of The Centsible Life, a blog where motherhood and money meet. Her goal is to help readers live well on less. Kelly is a mom to 4, and loves that she can stay at home with her kids, and still pursue her passions for writing, personal finance, and social media. You can often find her on twitter and Facebook talking money and motherhood.