Old Way: Beach Houses
New Way: Boating
Instead of a room by the water, consider a room on the water. Houseboat rental fees vary based on boat size and lake popularity, but even luxurious models that sleep 12 can cost $100 or less per person, per day. Forever Resorts (800-255-5561) rents houseboats from marinas at nine waterways including Lake Mead in Nevada, Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, and Lake Powell in Arizona and Utah. Find more offerings via houseboating.org (888-454-8825). Or explore Maine coastal villages and uninhabited islands on a traditional windjammer. The Maine Windjammer Association (800-807-9463) offers a clearinghouse for 12 vessels (usually sleeping 20 to 40), which start at about $150 per person daily.
Old Way: Planning
New Way: Touring
For every family trip, some poor soul—probably you—gets stuck with the planning. But someone else can do the work for a national or international group tour. Established outfits such as Tauck (800-788-7885) and Trafalgar (866-544-4434) tailor tours for families, while others, such as Adventures by Disney (800-543-0865) and Thomson Family Adventures (800-262-6255), exclusively offer group trips. Tours may have higher rates—Disney's weeklong Quest for the West tour in Wyoming starts at $2,849 per adult—but they can save you money on incidentals (meals, activities, and lodging often are included in the price).
Old Way: Resorts
New Way: Dorms
College can be a bargain—if you're hosting a reunion. Many schools rent empty dorm rooms during the summer; daily room rates can start under $100. Try smaller schools such as College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine; Niagara College in Southern Ontario, Canada; and Hope College in Holland, Michigan. You may also gain access to cafeterias or rec centers with your rental.
Old Way: Camping
New Way: Farming
For peace, quiet, and really fresh eggs, visit a farm. One option is The Inn at East Hill Farm (800-242-6495) near Troy, New Hampshire. Others include Liberty Hill Farm in Rochester, Vermont (802-767-3926), and Mountain Dale Farm in McClure, Pennsylvania (570-658-3536). Room fees range from $50 to $125 per day.
Old Way: Hotels
New Way: Safaris
Don't play it safe; try an exotic locale such as the Billie Swamp Safari at a Seminole reservation in the Florida Everglades (800-949-6101). Groups stay in huts for $65 nightly and, on tours (for an extra fee), see bison, eagles, and more. Or stay among more than 400 animals at Safari West Wildlife Preserve and African Tent Camp (800-616-2695) in Santa Rosa, California, for $130 to $295 per room, per night (rates are seasonal).