A vacation on a budget. Doesn’t that just sound delightful? I mean for me it does and I hope that this article written by my friend Kara from Frugal to Freedom will inspire you to vacation on a budget this summer. If you’re interesting in guest posting at LAAB, check out our guest posting policy. Take it away, Kara…
It’s a sad truth that the people who most need a vacation are the ones who can’t afford to go on one. I mean, let’s face it – vacation costs can add up quick. Lodging, car rental, food, activities…it can drain a savings account or blow a budget real fast.
I’m a low-income earner who believes strongly in the restorative power of vacation. I’m not lounging on yachts, but this year I’ll visit 14 US states over the course of three different trips. And I’ll be doing it super frugally.
I don’t believe money should be a barrier to travel or vacation. If you’re deep in debt, a low-income earner or working multiple jobs and have a hard time finding the time to take a trip, you may need a break most of all. Here are a few ideas to incorporate some down time into your life.
The first way to vacation on a budget is to have a staycation.
Staycations are an old idea. It may conjure up images of simply sleeping in and eating on your couch with Netflix on. But that is a lame vision of what can be an awesome break!
If you don’t have a lot of time or money, staycations are the best. I know I usually work 6 days a week – a full two days off is a rare thing for me. So sometimes just having two days off in a row feels luxurious!
To make those two days a proper staycation you need to do just two things:
- incorporate activities you love
- get excited about where you already are
People in larger cities will find it easier to get excited about where they are. How often do you get locked into going to the same places over and over again? You drive the same routes, buy food at the same store. Get out of your neighborhood! Walk around the grocery store in the other direction! Mix things up!
Trying out new activities in new places can be applied to your very own town. Not much of an outdoors person? Take a picnic lunch and your headphones to a park somewhere. Enjoy breaking out of your routine, being outdoors, and your favorite tunes. Bring a friend and a frisbee and turn it into a hang out session!
I joke about walking around the grocery store the opposite way, but if you’re really on budget lock down and can’t afford to try a new restaurant, simply try making a new meal. There are a zillion recipes online. Find something from a country you want to visit and make it in your kitchen. Use budget swaps for pricier items and you’ll stay within your budget.
Just because you’re staying where you already are doesn’t mean your staycation has to be boring.
The second option for having a vacation on a budget is to go somewhere ‘lame’.
I know everyone wants to jet off to New York or LA for the weekend, but not everyone can afford that. You know a city I’ve heard awesome things about, though? Kansas City. It’s supposed to have an amazing food scene. And for that matter, Detroit has an upcoming art scene. Indianapolis has great sports and world-class museums.
All these cities are seen as somewhat undesirable to visit in most people’s minds. That’s silly, as they’re all major cities with major attractions. They’re also pretty affordable to get to and from, and very affordable once you’re in there. Just compare lodging prices in NYC to Kansas City.
Thinking outside the major destinations will open you up to a world you didn’t even know you were missing, and will save you some dollars.
If you do decide to treat yo’ self (and remember, you should sometimes!) and go somewhere more expensive, here are a few easy ways to save some cash.
- Stay with friends or family
- Don’t buy any souvenirs: instead, spend money on experiences you can’t have at home!
- Eat at least one meal at home (you can make oatmeal in a hotel room!)
- Take public transportation or walk
- Limit your alcohol intake
Having a good time shouldn’t blow your budget. You can live it up and keep the spending down. What are some of your favorite budget vacation tips?
Hey, me again! Check out Kara’s frugal trip from last year. Hope you’ve been inspired to save some money on your travels this summer!
Author: Kara paid off $25,302 in student loans on less than $32,000 in three and a half years. She now blogs about living a big, adventurous life on a small budget at From Frugal to Free.