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Karen Dawkins

Founder and writer at FamilyTravelsonaBudget.com
I traded my legal briefcase for a suitcase and haven't looked back! I've been planning exciting vacations on budgets small and large for more than 20 years.



Considering a Walt Disney World vacation but overwhelmed by the planning? I can help. I've been to WDW more than 20 times, sometimes for a couple days and sometimes for a week or more. I've used the dining plans and haven't. I've stayed on property and off. Whether traveling with diaper-bottomed kids, preschoolers, elementary, tweens or teens, I've done it — more than once! My hubby and I spent our 20th anniversary here. I know the ins and outs and would love to help you plan a magical trip!

Cruise vacations

Cruise vacations are great for couples and families. I've cruised Carnival, Disney, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. Sorting out which cruise line is best, which destinations to visit, whether to take ship sponsored shore excursions or go off on your own, and even which cabin(s) is best can be overwhelming, especially for first time cruisers. I can help you sort through those questions to find the cruise that's best for you, your budget and your travel companions.

Travel blogging / writing

After an 8 day/7 night trip to Paris for our family of 5 which cost only $7000 inclusive (airfare, lodging, attractions, dining and shopping), friends wanted to know my secrets. I started my travel blog in April of 2012 to share my secrets, and by year's end I'd had 100,000 visitors. Since then the blog has grown exponentially, which humbles and amazes me! To learn more about travel blogging, please contact me.

Budget travel

We travel 10-12 times per year and have mastered the art of budget travel. I make a budget, then make travel plans to fit that budget to create a great vacation on any budget. Our family of 5 went to Paris, France for $7000 including airfare, lodging, attractions, dining and shopping, beating the travel agent quote by $5000. Closer to home, I have researched theme park meal deals and know which actually save you money. Let me help you decide where to go and what to do on your budget vacation.

Family travel

My kids are 20, 17 and 10. They've traveled to China, Europe, Mexico and throughout the North America. We enjoy being together, even on long road trips! My 20 year old misses the trips he can't take because of college, and he asks for phone calls and photos to follow along. How's that for an endorsement? If you need tips for planning and surviving road trips, help planning vacations the whole family will enjoy, or strategies for kids who struggle in new situations, I can help.

United States

I am a native of Ohio, home to the world's best theme parks and so much more. I live in North Carolina, and have explored the state from the mountains to the shore. Beyond my two "home states," I've traveled extensively through the country (though not the Pacific Northwest yet). I've explored dozens of major cities, state and national parks, and off-the-beaten-path destinations. I'd love to help you explore this great country.


I've been to islands throughout the Caribbean. Some are laid back and some are action packed. Some are safer than others. Some are cheaper than others. One thing they all have in common is that each island has its own unique culture. Whether considering a trip to a specific island destination or exploring the area by cruise ship, I can help you sort through the islands to find your perfect fit.


I've explored the popular vacation destinations in and around Cancun. I've been up and down the Pacific Coast of Mexico. I served on missions in Juarez. IT's one of my favorite destinations, and I'd love to share my experience here with you so you can discover its beauty too.


Raleigh, NC Travel Writer for Examiner.com


Featured blogger for Johnston County Visitors Bureau


Featured writer at TMS Mamas and Papas


Featured guest on Family Travel on a Budget at The Money Jar