Budget Money

Vacation on a Budget – You Need a Break!

May 11, 2016
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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.


Think you can't afford a vacation this summer? Well, stop thinking! You might be able to swing a vacation on a budget. Let's talk!

Latoya Scott
CFEI/Social Entrepreneur
Latoya Scott is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and personal finance writer with a mission to help millennials learn how to stop living paycheck to paycheck so they can become financially carefree.

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  • Aliyyah @RichAndHappyBlog May 11, 2016 at 11:50 am

    These are two good options. I’m planning to travel more in the upcoming years and definitely want to explore US cities, even the not-so-popular ones. Indianapolis is actually on my list. 🙂
    Aliyyah @RichAndHappyBlog recently posted…The Relationship Between Personal Finance And Personal DevelopmentMy Profile

    • Latoya S. May 13, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      Hey Aliyyah,

      Me too! Now that I’ve taken my first flight and gotten over my fear of flying, I’m ready to get out there and see stuff! I actually want to travel cross country though…just something about driving through different places that gives you more perspective.
      Latoya S. recently posted…Vacation on a Budget – You Need a Break!My Profile

  • Emily @ JohnJaneDoe May 11, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Since our daughter goes to a year-round school, we try to schedule vacations during off-peak times, like going to the beach in late September/early October (in the Carolinas, that tends to still feel pretty summery). That’s a good option for those who aren’t constrained by the school calendar, allowing you to get rates that are half or even a third off peak rates.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…The Cost of the Sick KidMy Profile

    • Latoya S. May 13, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      It sure is. We’re in SC so I can vouch for that summery feeling into the late fall. Its a great perk to be so close to Charleston, Savannah, and Myrtle Beach during off peak seasons. You save even more money!
      Latoya S. recently posted…Vacation on a Budget – You Need a Break!My Profile

  • Amanda Carew May 11, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    This year we are going to the Colorado Mountains (we are from Ontario, Canada.) This is our first trip we have saved up completely for it and won’t be using any credit. We will be camping, sometimes at free sites, and driving out there, along with making most of our meals. We are so excited for our trip and it’s been months in the making of cutting back, but SOOOO worth it.

  • Alexis @ Fitnancials May 11, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    You’re totally right. Kansas City is extremely underrated. I was surprised by how much fun I had there. The people, food, and things to do was right up my alley and I didn’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy myself.
    Alexis @ Fitnancials recently posted…The Struggles of Being an Au PairMy Profile

  • FinanceSuperhero May 13, 2016 at 11:41 am

    I am unique in the sense that I actually prefer staycations. They are usually my prime opportunity to recharge. When I actually take a vacation, I need a staycation immediately afterwards, as I like to maximize my opportunities when traveling to new places.

    I really like the tip about exploring up-and-coming cities. This is especially true for those who enjoy unique food and drink.
    FinanceSuperhero recently posted…The Thirty Day ListMy Profile

    • Latoya S. May 13, 2016 at 2:41 pm

      Definitely! I went on an all expenses paid trip with work last week to Disney and we came back on Wednesday. I didn’t start to feel like myself until Sunday night! I was exhausted and was so grateful I took the extra time off afterwards because I would have been good for nothing. Staycations are definitely up my alley because I know we haven’t explored everything our city has to offer.
      Latoya S. recently posted…Vacation on a Budget – You Need a Break!My Profile

  • Amanda @centsiblyrich May 13, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Good suggestions! We usually either camp or stay somewhere with at least a small kitchenette – we save a ton on food costs that way. We also go to lame destinations and never seem to run out of things to do!
    Amanda @centsiblyrich recently posted…How to be happy and content with your life right nowMy Profile

    • Latoya S. May 13, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      Yes, love kitchenettes and bringing my own stash of food. We did this when we went to ATL with our daughter a few years ago. We didn’t even have a kitchenette but we made good use of the mini fridge and a cooler by keeping cold items, juices, water, and fruit so we wouldn’t spend a fortune on snacks and such!
      Latoya S. recently posted…Vacation on a Budget – You Need a Break!My Profile

  • Femme Frugality May 13, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Love this! Staying with family and friends has been a huge one for us in the past, but as we’ve added kids to the mix that started feeling like more of an imposition. Budget travel can be done, though! It renews the soul.
    Femme Frugality recently posted…How Almost Anyone Can Go to Disney World for FreeMy Profile

  • Catherine Alford May 13, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Great post! While I’m not into staycations (because I always get distracted by kids and work), I like the second suggestion of finding places to go that are less expensive.
    Catherine Alford recently posted…3 Ways To Stay Calm and Happy During a Major Life UproarMy Profile

    • Latoya Scott May 18, 2016 at 8:03 pm

      Lol, I can definitely see that happening with me too, Cat!