Summer’s here, and people want to go out, breathe in the fresh air, and have new experiences. Though sometimes fun costs money, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The key is to be creative with summer travel on a budget (staycations aren’t a bad idea either!). You can have a fun summer without accumulating too much credit card debt. Here are some of our favorite tips for summer travel on a budget:
A tent is an upfront purchase, but if you have an outdoorsy family or friend group, it’ll pay for itself for years to come. Bringing your own food (don’t forget the s’mores!) doesn’t cost more than your usual grocery trip, and you can play games, go swimming, and tell ghost stories. You can also go fishing and cook your catch for lunch or dinner.
Check out lower-cost theme parks.
A major factor of summer travel on a budget is not automatically choosing the most popular (and usually most expensive!) choice. For people with kids, or people who are kids at heart, Disney World is the first thing that tends to come to mind. Disney World isn’t the only fun park around though. There’s plenty of other exhilarating parks to visit! Even at the less expensive parks, you’ll find everything from roller coasters to more relaxed rides. Just make sure to check park’s COVID procedures ahead of time. Once you’re set though, enjoy your day at the park!
Take a regional vacation for exciting summer travel on a budget.
All of the U.S. has unique things to offer. With that, visiting places within driving distance is an affordable way to discover new places. The West Coast has Seattle for coffee lovers and the artsy Portland, Oregon, and the eccentric attractions of Montana. The East Coast has beaches and boardwalks, and the South has the charming Helena, Georgia. It goes to show you don’t have to leave the country to have noteworthy experiences – points for summer travel on a budget!
Consider traveling off-season.
This might not work for everyone, but if you can get time off in the fall or winter, flights and hotels are much cheaper. There’s so much to enjoy locally or internationally for a good price. You could even get free accommodation as a house sitter, if you don’t mind doing tasks such as watering plants or walking pets.
Swap out some restaurants meals for grocery shopping.
If your lodging has a microwave or kitchen, you can skip pricier restaurant dinners for microwave meals and cheaper desserts. If you don’t have those amenities, bread, granola bars and certain pastries hold up without refrigeration for breakfast or snacks. This will help you achieve summer travel on a budget.
If you’re just dying to have unique food you won’t find in your home country though, avoid the touristy, overpriced restaurants. To get a cheaper (and more authentic) meal, seek out places in local neighborhoods.
*Avoid “too good to be true” deals or sketchy shortcuts.
It’s hard to resist a great deal, especially if money is tight. But certain “deals” are more trouble than they’re worth. For example, lots of people compare airline ticket prices from different sites. That’s a completely valid and useful tactic, but you might come across one or two scam sites. For example, one such site offers a $146 ticket from Washington to Mexico City. You’d be a fool not to jump on that deal, right?
Not so fast.
The reason this site’s tickets are so low is because of the exploitational practice of “hidden city ticketing.” When you book with these types of sites, you fly to your connecting location – the one you wanted to go to all along – abandon your plane once you get there, and leave the airport instead of boarding the connecting flight to the final destination you never intended on going to.
While it’s technically not an illegal practice (as of now), it’s quite risky. For starters, you’d have to take a carry-on bag, because checking a bag would mean it’d reach the final destination without you. Even then, you’d still get into trouble if your carry-on gets checked in at the gate. Airlines also penalize those who use hidden city ticketing, with consequences such as invalidation of airline miles and revocation of elite status. Bigger consequences include letters demanding payment, lawsuits, or even banishment from an airline. Probably one of the worst ways to do summer travel on a budget.
Budget airlines are the best (and ethical!) ways to save money. It won’t be a fancy ride, but it’s wallet-friendly, and you’ll have more funds to enjoy your vacation.
Summer travel on a budget doesn’t mean you have to skimp out on fun. Calculating your vacation budget is a great start to your adventure. You’ll have a fun vacation and lifetime memories.