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  • Costa Rica on a budget


    When planning a family vacation, costs can quickly skyrocket, as parents must factor in the price for kids and extra hotel rooms. Yet those who are willing to compromise a bit can easily accomplish everything they want to within a reasonable budget.

    The Chicago Sun-Times recently profiled a family that wanted to have a great vacation without breaking the bank. At the same time, they weren't looking for a "staycation" - they still wanted to leave the country.

    The family of four eventually settled on Costa Rica, thanks to a deal that allowed them to get round trip tickets for just $300 each. That left them plenty of wiggle room with their $4,000 budget for activities and lodging.

    Skimping on the lodging was hit-and-miss. Using websites aimed at college students searching for hostels, the family was able to find some homestyle operations with affordable rates. Some of these were hidden gems with friendly owners who gave the travelers all the attention and service they would have received at more expensive hotels. Others featured sinks that came off the bathroom walls.

    By avoiding a tour company, the family was able to shop for the cheapest price on their activities. Over their weeklong stay, they were able to snorkel, hike the rainforest and go on a horseback ride.

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