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Family vacation funds are always precious, especially for clans on tight budgets. Sadly, many families mistakenly assume that a dearth of dollars translates to limited options for travel. It is therefore incumbent on travel advisors to help cost-conscious clients realize the breadth of opportunities available to them.
While most advisors know this and work to maximize travel experiences within budgetary frameworks, others unfortunately aren’t always fully equipped with a portfolio (or a mindset) that reaches to the budget end of the spending scale. Reflexively encouraging families to accept steep discounts to amusement parks or cruise lines, for example, might indeed save them a bundle and deliver outstanding value, but it can still cost a family more than they can afford for an experience they might not really want.
As the father of a family with a voracious travel appetite but limited capital, I speak from experience; I’ve had to convince an agent or two that a few days of thrilling roller coasters wouldn’t beat a week of trail walking and wildlife viewing in a national park.
With this in mind — and driven by the Family Travel Association’s (FTA) mission to inspire all families to travel — the FTA is determined to demonstrate the full scope of opportunities available to families and the professionals poised to help them, no matter what a family’s budget is.
FTA members run the gamut, from Abercrombie & Kent to the wonderful Kampgrounds of America (KOA) network that stretches across North America. And while there’s no denying the quality of service provided by $1,000-a-day operators or hundreds-a-night all-inclusive resorts, so, too, must we recognize the appeal of frugal travel, even if the sales margins and profit incentives for agents might not be as strong.
In addition to KOA, agents have plenty of choices for budget travelers, including CityPASS, which provides families with easy, heavily discounted ways to see the top tourist attractions in various North American metropolitan areas; nature-based attractions, especially national parks, in destinations across the U.S. and beyond; and mountain destinations with pricing for people of all income levels.
Remember, kids can find thrills in something as simple as a playground slide. Similarly, parents find satisfaction in watching their kids revel in whatever grabs their interest. Recognizing this means being ready to craft budget-appropriate experiences for all, since families deserve a great vacation no matter how thin their wallets may be.