6 Steps to Plan Ahead for a Cheap Summer Vacation

By | May 19, 2015

Summer vacation. The words alone conjure up visions of fun and warmth and laughter … and expenses. Summer vacations can definitely be pricey endeavors, whether you travel alone, with your partner or with your whole family.

If you forego the typical summer vacation plan, however, you can save a great deal of money and have an amazing summer holiday on a very tight budget. Here are six strategies you can utilize to have a great vacation while keeping your wallet intact.

Be a local tourist. Have you ever actually visited the highlights of your current city or region? Spend a few moments checking out what the top 10 or 20 sights in your area are and ask yourself how many of those you’ve visited at any time in the recent past (if ever). For many people, that number is surprisingly small and so, for many vacationers, becoming a local tourist makes for a very interesting vacation.

Simply turn your summer vacation this year into a bit of a staycation and visit all of the interesting destinations in your city. Check out the top museums, landmarks, beaches and historical areas. Hit a few of the really well-known restaurants. Get to know the wonderful tourist destinations offered by your area, especially if you’ve written it off as “boring” in your head.

Visit a national park. America’s national park system is one of our nation’s treasures. The natural beauty contained within the parks is some of the most stunning in the world and it can be accessed at a tiny price. It’s very cheap to camp at a national park, and even lodging – in the form of nearby hotels and cabins – isn’t too pricey.

If you want a vacation where you’ll be blown away by the majestic beauty of natural vistas, you almost can’t go wrong with spending several days in a national park. Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Denali, Acadia, Glacier – they’re all waiting for your summer visit.



Explore your own region. Instead of flying to some grand destination across the country, or in another country, simply hop in a car and explore some of the interesting areas within a few hours of your home. Almost every region of the U.S. offers some amazing getaways nearby, and taking advantage of that eliminates the cost of plane tickets and vastly increases your travel flexibility.

Spend some time looking at some of the most interesting locales in your state and in all bordering states. You’ll probably find something utterly compelling if you look for it, and the best part is that you can simply drive there at your convenience without the expense and challenges of flying.


Wait until the very last minute. This might seem crazy as a summer vacation strategy, but it can actually produce a surprisingly cheap vacation. Simply wait until the absolute last minute to plan your trip. Wake up one morning, see what cheap flights and hotels are available that day, book a flight and a cheap hotel at your destination, then travel somewhere unexpected.

You’ll wind up in a completely unexpected place, which will be full of surprises for you, and you’ll be doing it with a dirt-cheap plane ticket and an inexpensive hotel room because you’ll be providing last-minute fill-in for the providers of those services. Sure, you won’t be able to carefully plan your vacation, but it will definitely be exciting and unpredictable – and cheap.


Housesit for a remote friend. If you have friends in a remote city who are going on a trip, offer to housesit for them while they’re gone. Simply go visit them for a day or two before or after their trip, then watch their house for them while they travel as you explore the city where they live.

 This strategy enables you to spend a day or two with old friends and enjoy a vacation in a new city with free housing and an easy place to prepare cheap meals, saving you money on food costs.

Travel someplace less typical. Many of the most expensive vacations are to the “usual” tourist destinations – Paris, the Caribbean, Disney World, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and so on. Instead of going to those flashy destinations, aim for something a little off the beaten path. Instead of vacationing in Paris, stay in a smaller town in France. Instead of going to the Bahamas, go to Grenada. Instead of hitting Disney World, go to Cedar Point.

There are inexpensive alternatives to almost every pricey vacation spot in the world that will provide similar experiences and fun at a far lower price. Plus, people are often much more curious about an unusual place that they may not have heard of than the same old places everyone visits.

Summer vacations don’t have to kill your wallet if you apply a few smart strategies to the equation, and some of those strategies can produce an even more memorable summer experience. Think outside the box this summer and you may find yourself with an unforgettable trip at a forgettable price.


This article was written by U.S. News Staff. View full article here.

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