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Are you long overdue for a family vacation? Ready for the sun and fun of Southern California but worried that you can't afford it? Travelling isn't just for the wealthy. Stop California dreaming and read on to discover how you can have the family trip of a lifetime on a shoestring budget.

Frugal FlyingSouthern California: Are you long overdue for a trip?

Making the hop from Philadelphia to Southern California doesn’t have to break the bank. There are plenty of options online where you can find discount tickets if you’re willing to think outside the box a bit. A nearby airport may also have a less expensive option! Trenton-Mercer Airport (TNN/KTTN) is only 43 miles from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Atlantic City International Airport (ACY/KACY) is 58 miles away. Web sites like SkyScanner let you choose from any number of different airports nearby and compare costs.

A quick search for flights leaving tomorrow show round-trip tickets for as low as $360! Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays are the most cost effective days to travel. Rumor has it that booking flights late Monday night will get you cheaper flights as well.

Affordable Accommodations

Thrifty travellers know that the best way to avoid sticker shock when finding a hotel is to plan in advance. Do your homework. Web sites like TripAdvisor and HipMunk have tons of choices. You can filter by price and location, and read reviews to determine which one is the right fit for you and your family. Also, don’t rule out Airbnb. Their website has an abundance of options for families, with ratings, so you can find a place to stay that is right for you. Book online in advance to avoid the headache of scrambling to find a hotel when you land. Your wallet and your sanity will thank you!

Comfort Cuisine

California might have a reputation as the kale capital of the world, but you can still find some good old fashioned Philadelphia comfort food on the West Coast. Cortina’s Italian Market has multiple locations and serves up a tasty Philly cheesesteak. ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney boasts a delectable steak sandwich too, along with other delicious fare. If you’re missing soft pretzels, head to Slater’s 50/50 where they’ve fashioned the iconic snack into homemade burger bread. Wash it down with their signature Bananas Foster milkshake for an out-of-this-world experience!

Economical Entertainment

What’s the first thought in your mind when arriving in Southern California? Disneyland! A visit to Mickey and his friends can cost you some big bucks.

Fortunately, you can still find cheap Disneyland tickets if you try. Start by going online and finding a reputable ticket provider. There are several that work directly with Disney to offer legitimate discounted tickets. Avoid buying any Disneyland tickets from people selling them on the side of the road or from places like Craigslist or eBay. These tickets are part of a common scam that tells you that you can “rent” tickets. You can’t rent tickets and will be charged full price for admission if you try to enter the park. Another way to get inexpensive Disneyland tickets is to avoid days when the entry fee to the park is likely to be the highest, such as national holidays, school breaks and weekends.

Had your fill of Disneyland? Southern California has countless family friendly options. A very popular one that's also wallet friendly is K1Speed. Have some friendly competition and get your adrenaline going! You can also take your family exploring some of Southern California’s most breathtaking National Parks. It’s a budget way to see some amazing nature and get a little exercise in too!

An amazing vacation to Southern California is doable for you and your family! It just takes a little bit more work ahead of time. Keep an eye out for discounts and pounce on them when you find one that matches your interests and budget. You’ll save money, and as a result, it will be easier to enjoy your California getaway!


Greg Dastrup is a world traveler and professional writer with a passion for learning new languages. He’s spent most of his career consulting for businesses in North America.


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