Summer is already upon is, and if you blink, it might just pass you by. If you haven’t made any vacation plans yet because you think you can’t afford to travel, think again! There are plenty of ways to have fun on the cheap, and you can get away from home for short money if you plan carefully and are flexible about where you go and what you do.
Try these tips to start planning your last-minute summer travel, and you can still make some memories to get you through the long, cold winter — it’ll be here before you know it!
- Sleep Under the Stars
Camping is a whole lot cheaper than staying in a hotel, and you might be surprised to learn that there are campgrounds close to just about any popular destination — including big cities. If hiking isn’t your thing, no problem: Just Uber into the nearest destination to take advantage of interesting sightseeing, but sleep on the cheap at the campground.
Pro Tip: If you don’t already have gear, look for a used tent and other supplies on Craigslist or eBay. You’re not hiking the Appalachian Trail, so you don’t need top-of-the-line equipment for a weekend jaunt.
- Try Airbnb
If roughing it isn’t your style, Airbnb has loads of budget-friendly options all around the world. You can save a bundle by renting out a room in someone’s home instead of a full place if you’re traveling solo, or spring for a small house if you’re traveling with family. Having access to a kitchen is a huge benefit for budget-conscious travelers, since it eliminates the need to splurge on restaurant fare. Which brings us to our next tip …
- Make Your Own Meals
Sure, it’s nice to eat out and have someone wait on you, but if you have three meals a day away from home, your costs are going to go through the roof. And if you’re bringing your whole family with you, you could easily blow through your travel budget by the second day. Instead, hit the grocery store for road food that you can keep in a basket at room temperature or veggies and sandwiches to store in a cooler. If you stay in a house, apartment or hotel with an efficiency kitchen, you can cook your own meals, which is way cheaper than eating out. Eat in most of the time, and you can splurge here and there on a nice dinner or a couple trips to the ice cream stand.
Pro Tip: If you absolutely must stay in a standard motel room, at least pick one with a microwave and a mini fridge. This will let you pack up leftovers from dinner to have for lunch the next day. Bonus points for making less expensive lunches the main meal of your day and having in-room leftovers for dinner.
- Never Leave Home Without a Refillable Water Bottle
Touring a new place in the hot summer sun is bound to leave you thirsty, but you don’t want to be caught paying a markup for a bottle of water. Bring along your favorite reusable water bottle and fill it in the hotel room before you head out each morning. Many public places now have bottle filling stations alongside their water fountains, so it should be easy to stay hydrated for free instead of spending a couple bucks each day on agua. If you have a family, this could add up to significant savings over the course of your vacation, so make like a Boy Scout and be prepared!