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Planning a family vacation on a budget can feel completely overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be an expensive nightmare! There are places in the U.S. and abroad where you can have a lovely vacay without going bankrupt.

GOBankingRates reached out to travel experts to find out some of the most affordable — and fun! — destinations for middle-class families. From stunning national parks to charming beach towns, these affordable vacation recommendations are perfect for middle class families.

Baja, Mexico

Zach Lazzari of Cross Border Coverage recommended Baja, Mexico, as an excellent choice for families looking for an international adventure.

“Skip the resort scene in Cabo and rent a car and grab an Airbnb on the East Cape or a place like Todos Santos,” he said. “You get the benefit of affordable flights to Cabo, rentals are pretty cheap, and it’s a beautiful scene that is friendly for travelers and families.”

Lazzari also suggested considering Loreto, another great town with an airport, for a safe, accessible and exciting family vacation.

Lisbon, Portugal

Alex Cornici of The Traveler highlighted Lisbon as an exception to the notion that Europe is synonymous with expensive travel.

“On the one hand, it offers an intense cultural experience at meager prices for accommodation, dining and cultural activities. On the other hand, it can be highly family-friendly, because the mass of historical places, beaches and the tram system will gladden both children and parents,” he said.

The Smoky Mountains

For those looking for an affordable family experience closer to home, Cornici recommended the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

“With camping on-site available and even renting rustic, bare-bones cabins, one gains affordable access to hiking, wildlife observation and whatever else nature has to offer,” he said.

Tim Hentschel, the co-founder and CEO of HotelPlanner, also praised Great Smoky Mountains National Park for its free entry, endless exploration opportunities and budget-friendly accommodations in nearby gateway towns.

Bali, Indonesia

Cornici suggested Bali as a perfect option for adventurous families willing to go the extra mile.

“Besides being budget-friendly, at least for most countries due to its favorable exchange rates, it also offers beaches and cultural tours in Ubud,” he said. “Family-friendly accommodations and welcoming, bustling hospitality make it a favorite for parents and kids alike.”

US National Parks

Echo Wang, CEO and founder of Cool Travel Vibes, recommended exploring the incredible and affordable national parks in the U.S.

“Many have ranger-led hikes and programs, keeping everyone entertained,” she said.

Hentschel also emphasized the abundance of family-friendly activities and affordable accommodations near the 63 U.S. National Parks and more than 400 national park sites.

Southeast Asia

Wang also suggested considering Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Vietnam for their delicious food, cultural experiences and activities that are both immersive and relatively inexpensive.

Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast

Hentschel recommended a road trip along the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast, from New Orleans to Pensacola.

This stretch offers “beautiful beaches, most everything is about a third less expensive, delicious fresh catch seafood and plenty to see and do,” he said. “You can road trip all the way from New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, to Destin and Pensacola, or pick a beach town like Gulf Shores or Panama City Beach and enjoy an affordable and family-friendly vacation that won’t break the bank.”

Margaritaville at Sea

For an affordable Caribbean getaway, Hentschel suggested Margaritaville at Sea, which offers 2-night, 3-day excursions from Palm Beach, Florida to the Bahamas starting at $100.

“If you’ve never been to the Bahamas, this is probably the cheapest way to go,” he said.

Syracuse, New York

Hentschel recommended Syracuse as an alternative to Broadway for theater-loving families.

“The quality of performances is on par with Off-Broadway in New York City, with much less expensive tickets, hotels and restaurants,” he said. “While you’re there, tour Syracuse University and attend a sporting event or two.”

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Lastly, Hentschel suggested visiting the Amish community and Hershey Park in Lancaster County.

“This road trip is a rite of passage for many families living in the Northeast or Midwest who are close enough to take the family to see the Amish community, tour the Hershey chocolate factory and go on all the rides at Hershey Park, all in one weekend,” he said. “This is a less expensive trip than Orlando and includes some of the same combinations of educational/cultural/historical immersion, entertainment and adventure.”

By following these expert recommendations and tips, middle-class families can enjoy unforgettable vacations without going broke. As Cornici put it, “Affordable travel does not equate to compromising on experiences. It involves making the right plans and, in most cases, accepting the local way of life, as it may offer experiences that are deeper and more enriching than those offered on a platter on the normal tourist route.”

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