Vacation Ideas That Won’t Break the BankJanuary 10, 2017
Taking time off from work to unwind is important. Around three-quarters of workers report being stressed at work, yet nearly 40 percent of Americans do not plan to use all of their allotted paid vacation time this year. Studies have shown that taking vacation time is good for your body — it can help reduce stress, maximize productivity, and improve quality of sleep, among other benefits. So why are Americans not taking vacations more frequently? To some, vacations are viewed as a luxury, and elaborate travel plans are simply not in the budget. However, taking some vacation time does not have to involve spending all of your savings. Here are a few vacation ideas for budget-friendly relaxing:
Find a Great Deal on a Cruise
Traveling to exotic islands might sound costly, but if you are dreaming of a relaxing beach trip for your next vacation, a cruise may be the way to go. If you play your cards right, there are many ways to score a great deal on a cruise. Be flexible about dates when booking your cruise — if you are able to go during the off-season months (January, May, November, and early December), you can save hundreds. To save even more cash, book very early or very late — cruise lines often offer discounts to early bookers as well as to last-minute bookers in order to fill up the remaining staterooms. To ensure you are getting the absolute best price, try using a website like Cruise Compete to compare deals from multiple cruise lines. Another appealing characteristic of cruises is that food, basic drinks, and even room service are often included in the price of the cruise. So, apart from gratuities and optional beverages, you will not have much to pay for once you board the ship.
Travel to Your Dream City
If you plan strategically, there are plenty of ways to cut costs on a big city vacation. If you are within a reasonable driving distance of your destination, consider carpooling or even taking public transportation like the Megabus to save on transportation. If driving is not an option for you, you can use a website like Kayak to compare flight prices to make sure you are getting the best deal. If you are not picky in regards to which city you want to visit, try Kayak Explore — you simply plug in variables like airports, dates during which you want to travel, and the amount of money you want to spend on airfare, and it shows you everywhere in the country (and even the world) that you can travel based on your preferences. As for places to stay, Airbnb or local hostels are often a cheaper alternative to hotels. Once in the city, choose affordable activities to fill your day — many large cities have museums that offer free admission.
Visit a National Park
With the National Parks Service (NPS) celebrating its 100th birthday this year, now is the perfect time to visit one (or multiple!) of our own national treasures. There are 58 national parks scattered across the country, so the odds are favorable that there is one within driving proximity to you. Fortunately, entrance to the parks are inexpensive (typically running from free to around $30) — and the NPS offers several free entrance days throughout the year. For the best deal on visiting multiple national parks (or the same one multiple times) in a year, consider purchasing the America the Beautiful Pass — an $80 pass that permits a personal vehicle and all of its passengers admittance into over 2,000 federal recreation sites, including: national parks, national wildlife refuges, standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As for overnight stays, national parks charge a small fee per night for tent and RV camping, and in certain national parks, you can find hotels within or just outside of the park.
Plan a “Stay-cation”
The least expensive option of the four, a “stay-cation” can give you a vacation from work without spending much (or any) money. Taking some time off to simply relax in your own home or explore your own town can leave you rested and rejuvenated for the beginning of your next work week. Whether you go see a movie, make a delicious new recipe, get a massage, find a new project to DIY on Pinterest, go to a local event, visit a local tourist attraction you’ve never seen, or just binge-watch Netflix all day, taking the time to do some of your favorite things can feel like a vacation in itself.
Vacations That Won’t Bust Your Budget
Even if you are on a budget, you deserve a vacation every now and then. Whether you are cruising around the Caribbean or surfing the web on your couch, taking vacation time has many health benefits. If you are looking to free up some extra cash for your next vacation, see how much you could save by refinancing your education loans. Want more inspiration for budget-friendly vacations? Check out our Pinterest board!