A vacation to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge can actually be very affordable. I know, I was surprised, too. There are many different options when it comes to lodging, dining, and entertainment which gives you the chance to find the most affordable route for your family, while still planning out a full trip. There are also things that you can do to make sure you don’t go over budget during your stay there. Here are the tips that I use for staying in budget on my Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge vacation.
(We were given tickets to some of these attractions in exchange for sharing our tips. As always, we only share our honest opinions and experiences.)
Lodging that Includes Breakfast
When I’m searching for a hotel, I make sure that it includes a continental breakfast. That takes away the cost of one meal per day, which adds up quickly. Lots of hotels in the area offer a continental breakfast . I found one last time that included biscuits and gravy, muffins, cereals, and a waffle bar. It was a perfect chance for everyone to fill up before we started out each day.
Walmart Grocery Pickup
There is a Walmart right there in Pigeon Forge that has the option for grocery pickup. Download the app, pick a time, and pick up your groceries. This saves you time and money, since you aren’t tempted by impulse purchases. I can get snacks, sandwich ingredients, even stuff to grill hamburgers at a picnic area. You definitely want to try some of those delicious restaurants in the area, but this gives you a chance to save money on some meals.
Purchase Tickets Before You Go
Decide what attractions you want to experience while you are planning your trip and make your ticket purchases online. You can search for deals, you can check sites like retailmenot, you might even find discounts for buying early. Also, there is a chance you can find combo tickets. For example, at the time of this writing, there is a combo ticket for Dolly Parton’s Stampede/Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Offers will come and go, but a little searching can yield great results. Finally, pre-purchasing your tickets and passes means that when your trip actually happens, you don’t need to budget that money, because it’s already spent.
Dollywood Season Passes
Dollywood offers a payment plan on their season passes if you purchases the passes before a certain date each year. We were able to get discounted season passes for the 2019 season with a nine month payment plan. Start looking for this chance in October or November in the year before. Make sure at least one member in your party has a gold pass. The gold pass includes free parking and a 20% discount for food and merchandise. This will quickly pay for itself. Once you have your pass, you don’t need to factor in the cost of a visit to Dollywood on your trip(s.)
Take Advantage of Free Activities
There’s a pretty wide range of activities you can partake in that are totally free, too. There are little side trails all over the area that you can hike to see all sorts of natural beauty. You can go drive through Cade’s Cove, which is well worth the trip. In fact, it’s a great place to have some possible sightings of wildlife native to the area. Or if you want something a little more like civilization, the Island in Pigeon Forge has lots of lights to see at night, as well as a dancing fountain that you will really want to see before you have to go.
Now it’s time to go!
As you can see, with a little planning ahead of time, and a small amount of discipline, you can easily find ways to cut costs without cutting out fun on your Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge vacation. This way you can save your money for things like a visit to Dolly Parton’s Stampede, which you definitely should check out. Have fun in the Smokies!