This article on family outings was originally published on Wealth of Geeks and we were given permission to republish it here.
Having fun has never been more expensive.
A new study revealed that classic family outings – baseball games, movies, and theme parks – have become insurmountable costs.
These pastimes passed on from generation to generation might have to stay in the past if people can no longer afford to participate in activities that simply cost too much.
Dreams of catching a foul ball or visiting Cinderella’s castle are common aspirations in young families. It’s part of a tradition that has remained relatively unchanged since Walt Disney opened his first theme park.
“Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America—with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world,” explained Walt Disney.
Inspiring, yes, but with high costs, is it really attainable?
Priced Out of Priceless Memories
Summer vacation is often when a family takes trips, whether splurging on Disney or going to the movies. What’s changed is that now everything is expensive, and pocketbooks are hurting with these rising costs.
“I had to explain to the kids that Mickey was out of Daddy’s budget,” says Steven Martinez, who had promised his kids a trip to the House of Mouse.
Disney offers many categories of places to stay, ranging from deluxe resort hotels to so-called value resort hotels and even their own timeshares.
Still, even those accommodations that are supposed to be budget-friendly are often out of reach for young families.
But it didn’t always use to be that way.
A More Affordable Middle Class
According to a study conducted by The Hustle, traditional family outings have “increased in cost at 2-3x the rate of inflation.” In addition, the study – which compared family outings in 1960 to today – concluded that “American families have to work up to 2x as many hours as they did 60 years ago.”
Since most people can’t just double up on their hours worked to go on vacation, what are real families doing to combat the rising cost of basic activities?
“The topic of expensive family outings is near and dear to my heart,” Lauren Tingley explained. “Just last weekend, we spent over $200 on snacks and gas to take my kids to their swim meet in a town that was just an hour away,” says Lauren.
Still, she is optimistic and offered some simple hacks for making the most of family activities without breaking the bank.
“Be a tourist in your own town,” recommends Lauren. “We will walk around downtown, visit the local museum or art gallery, and eat before we go.”
She suggests spending time in nature, taking advantage of free events such as concerts or festivals, and staying with friends and family over Airbnbs, hotels, or trying to navigate a timeshare rental or trade.
And as far as trips to Disney? “We are skipping them for now,” Lauren told us.
What are Other Parents Doing?
Alexandra Fung, a mom of four and co-founder of Upparent, uses this trick: investing in memberships of places you can visit multiple times a year. “We’ve had memberships to various state parks, zoos, museums, and amusement parks,” says Alexandra.
She cites such factors as her interests, the ages of her children, and where they lived as deciding factors on where to sign-up for a membership.
Hacks like Lauren and Alexandra’s are great solutions to battle inflation and could shift how we view family traditions. If fewer families can go to a big theme park like Disney World, it may lose some of its popularity.
Some savvy parents have learned to make unattainable vacations possible by planning ahead and staying organized.
Start early when deciding on a budget, destination, and dates. “The two factors are choice and price,” Lorie Carson told us. “The earlier you reserve, the more likely you will design the ideal getaway,” she says.
Lorie manages to make the most of her trips by curating a budget, so she’s never ticket shocked along the way.
Finally, she recommends searching for credit cards that offer cash back travel rewards. “I used my Capital One rewards to pay for accommodation, dining, and gas,” she says.
While these hacks are undoubtedly effective, they still beg the question: is Disney worth the value it costs? “Yes,” Lorie believes, “a vacation to Disney World is worthwhile, but some expenses will undoubtedly make the trip unaffordable.”
Crafty moms and dads have to develop tricks and life hacks as family outings become increasingly out of reach for regular families.
Walt’s original vision for Disney is worth returning to a place where families could have fun together. “We didn’t go into Disneyland just with the idea of making money,” he said.
Unfortunately, with prices starting at $109 just to enter Disney World, it’s possible that Walt’s original vision is being ignored in favor of avarice and dollar signs.
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