Believe it or not, planning a vacation that's fun, affordable and kid-friendly might not be as hard as it seems.
In fact, a study conducted last year by home-sharing website HomeAway and the University of Texas found that the cost of the trips vacationers took, be it $100 or $5,000, had very little effect on the memories they made along the way. Instead, the presence of family members and friends improved the vacation memories of those surveyed by at least 20 percent.
If you're taking children on your next journey, focus on planning a vacation full of new experiences rather than expensive upgrades. The 2017 Kidpinion Travel Survey from HomeAway and FamilyFun magazine found that 46 percent of kids said their favorite part of vacation is seeing new places and trying new things.
Prioritizing new experiences doesn't have to mean jetting off to someplace exotic (though it certainly can). It could mean seeking out hidden gems close to home and saving big as a result.
Whether you're headed to visit your favorite Disney characters or want a weekend away in the mountains, home-sharing could be a great way to reduce the cost of your next vacation. Websites like HomeAway, Airbnb and FlipKey make it easy to search for a house that fits your family's budget and unique needs.
Renting a house, cabin or condo could even get you more amenities than a typical hotel, which could help keep your kids occupied after a day full of activities. Thirty-six percent of parents and 38 percent of kids in the Kidpinion Travel Survey said they would rather stay in a vacation rental than any other type of accommodation.
Click ahead to see eight U.S. home rentals around $300 a night or less that are packed with features your kids will be talking about long after your vacation ends.
This two-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom house sleeps up to five people and is available for an average of $264 per night.
The house sits on the Bonefish Bay waterfront with a private fishing dock. There's also a pool and hot tub on the property. Inside, there's a rec room with a ping pong table. There are also kayaks free for guests to use. CoCo Plum Beach is a mile away, accessible by a pedestrian and bike lane in front of the house.
This two-bedroom, two-bathroom "treehouse" cabin sleeps up to eight people and is available for an average of $275 per night.
The elevated property has a wraparound deck with a grill, as well as a fire pit below. Families staying at the Branson Cedars Resort, where the cabin is located, can enjoy access to plenty of outdoor activities, including a pool, disc golf course, children's playground and volleyball and basketball courts.
This three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom townhouse sleeps up to six adults (nine people total, including infants), and is available for an average of $229 per night.
The home includes parking for two cars and is located in a private community within walking distance of Downtown Disney. Geared toward families with young children, this home has an en-suite nursery in the master bedroom as well as several strollers and high chairs for guest use. There's free Wi-Fi and Netflix, a private grill on the back patio and access to a Mickey-shaped community pool and hot tub.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
This three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo sleeps up to 12 people and is available for an average of $228 per night.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
The condo features ocean views and is located in the Dunes Village Resort at the north end of Myrtle Beach's "Golden Mile." In addition to being close to the beach, guests have access to the resort's heated indoor water park with a lazy river, waterslides, hot tubs and a game room. The Family Kingdom theme park and Ripley's Aquarium are also nearby.
This three-bedroom, three-bathroom cabin sleeps up to 10 people and is available for an average of $302 per night.
While there's plenty to do in the surrounding Smoky Mountains, inside this cabin families can enjoy a home theater, a game room with pool and foosball and a private indoor putt-putt golf course. The cabin is also within driving distance of Gatlinburg, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Dollywood.
This six-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom house on Martha's Vineyard sleeps up to 13 people and is available for an average of $289 per night.
The house has two living areas with cable TV and a rec room with pool and ping pong tables. There's a grill on the home's patio and a private tennis court in the backyard, plus a nearby playground for the kids.
This three-bedroom, three-bathroom townhouse sleeps up to seven people and is available for an average of $112 per night.
The home in the Windsor Hills community has several smart TVs, a PlayStation 4 and a Star Wars-themed kids' bedroom. There's a private pool as well as a larger shared pool with a waterslide and a community playground. Plus, the property is 2 miles from Disney World.
Eldred, New York
This two-bedroom, two-bathroom house in the Catskills sleeps up to eight people and is available for an average of $183 per night.
Eldred, New York
The home is "super kid friendly," according to the property manager, with a custom-designed kids' bedroom that features a mini indoor playground, complete with a climbing wall, swings, monkey bars and lofted beds. The home also has plenty of kids' toys, books and games. Outside, guests have access to a lake for swimming and boating.