Summer is underway, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to plan a getaway, even if you don’t have much of a travel budget this year. By making a few alterations to your schedule, switching up where you visit, and—this is important—making a plan, you can have a vacation worth sending postcards from.
Switch Up Your Accommodations
Accommodations are often a large part of a vacation budget, but they don’t need to be. Check out sites like AirBNB and VRBO; since these sites allow home owners to rent out their place, they’re often more affordable than hotels. Plus, you’ll be in a home, which means you’ll have your own kitchen, making it easy to make food rather than eating out for every meal.
Forget Disney. National Parks abound throughout the U.S., and as such, chances are there’s one within driving distance of where you live. National parks make great vacation destinations, in large part because it’s summer, when you and the family can explore the many natural wonders. The nice weather also allows for camping – many national parks offer public camp grounds – saving you tons of money on hotel accommodations. Yellowstone may be one of the most popular of the parks, but it’s also one of the most affordable, in large part because there’s just a one-time fee for a full week of access (and it’s definitely more affordable than, say, Disney where you pay for daily tickets).
To really keep costs down, plan your vacation with friends or family. This way you can split many of the costs, including house rentals and groceries (so you’re making more of your meals, rather than eating out). If you’re driving to your destination—which is often more affordable than flying or taking a train—you can also split the cost of gas. Plus, you’ll be making trip memories with your favorite people!
Pick an Off-Season Destination
Come summer time, people are traveling just about everywhere in the U.S., but there are places that are technically in the “off season.” For starters, much of Florida is more frequented during the winter months; but if you’re planning on spending a lot of time at the beach, you won’t mind the piping hot temperatures too much! Check out popular ski towns, like Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Park City, Utah and Telluride, Colorado. These mountain towns are just as beautiful in the summer, offering hiking, fishing, zip lining and river rafting, and many boast some great festivals during the warmer months.
Research Where You’re Headed
Speaking of festivals, research your destination thoroughly before hitting the road. After all, when you know what you’re planning on doing —rather than just winging it—you can find additional ways to make your vacation money to go further. For example, many museums offer “free” days certain times of the month or week. As for taking tours, get some ideas from online research and then come up with your own “tour” of sorts, depending on your interests!
Still unsure about whether you have enough vacation money? Plan a staycation instead! You’ll have the bonus of staying home and not paying anything for a hotel or rental, all while making a point of finally crossing things off your bucket list of things to do/see in your own home town!
Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not blogging about food, she’s working part-time at a culinary vacation company, The International Kitchen, based in the Windy City, as well as repping Younique cosmetics and skincare products. Some of her writing can be found at Examiner.com.