Tap a national treasure. The best hidden secrets of the national and state parks networks are the many family-friendly, low-price vacation options, such as cabins that -- don't worry -- have running water and electricity. I found a cabin in the Colorado Rockies for $300 for six days, and it sleeps seven, which means you may be able to split it with another family. If you love camping, the prices drop and your horizons expand. Visit Recreation.gov, where you can search for deals by state, park, or activity.
Get your due. If you or your spouse has served in the armed forces, you may be eligible for military discounts from many travel companies. Mention your military status before you make any reservations.
Hit cruise control. Many cruises offer inexpensive, all-inclusive, sometimes last-minute deals. How about a four-night cruise from Miami to the Bahamas for $349 (per adult) on the Disney Cruise Line? Or seven nights on the Mexican Riviera starting at $559 (per adult) on Carnival Cruise Lines? Families who are willing to stay in an inner cabin (without a window) can cruise for extra-low prices and still enjoy all the same entertainment, adds Lanin. Try Cruisesonly.com or Cruise.com to sail away into the sunset.
MP Dunleavey is all about living well on the money you have. Check out her book Money Can Buy Happiness.