Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cheap Places To Go On Vacation

If your vacation budget is not quite as big as it has been in years past you are probably thinking about cheap places to go on vacation and we are here to offer a few suggestions in the next few posts.

Vacations are one of the first places most think about cutting when money gets tight but there are still ways to make it happen for your family even when it has be a bargain. Cheap vacations are within the reach of most. One can even determine the cheapest time to go to Vegas if that is your thing but unless you live in the western US that is not what this post is about. This post is about finding a place not far from home that you can take the entire family.

There are three main categories of expense while on vacation. First is transportation, second is food and shelter and third is entertainment. There are ways to save on all three of these with a little advanced planning and a willingness to do things differently than what is considered normal.

One of the primary things that has to happen in order to take advantage of the cheapest places to go on vacation is that one’s mind must change about what has to be in order to experience ‘a vacation’. The $200 per day (tickets etc.) to go to Disney World in Florida is out. The 4 star dinners ever night are out. Premier hotels are out. What has to be the primary aim has to become something along the lines of having an enjoyable time with those you love, in a place that takes you away from your ordinary life. However you may define that. Most people would agree if they made that target the focus of the vacation, their vacation would be a success.

If you can accept this presumption then it opens up a world of possibility on a very limited vacation budget. So let’s look at each of the three areas of expense and see what can be done to minimize the dollars spent on this week or two doing some really fun stuff.

First let’s look at transportation. Flying is probably out for most people that are on a budget as that alone can add at least $200 per person to the cost of the vacation and that pretty much leaves driving the family car. In order to not consume a lot of vacation time with travel you will probably want to limit the distance to about a day’s drive each way. In actuality this amount of time would be spent flying anyway so the time spent is about the same. It is just the distance that is limited. I have found that 4-5 hundred miles is about as far as I want to try to travel in a day with a family so that would have to be the maximum distance for me to reach my cheap spots to go on vacation.

Most people would be surprised at what locations are within 500 miles of your home. Depending on where you live of course, this varies but no doubt there are many places to visit within that range. You will need to get an atlas out and do some research at this point and figure out what falls within your maximum distance you are willing to travel for your cheap place go vacation. There is a handy tool at this website that will allow you to say how far you want to draw a radius around a given point on a Google map and then it will show you on a map how big that circle is. Although this tool draws a circle as a straight line around the point on the map, it will give you a good idea how far you can go on your days drive. You may want to decrease the distance you are willing to travel by perhaps 10% in order to accommodate driving distance opposed to the map’s radius distance.

When you have identified your cheap locations to go on vacation you will then need to figure out how to eat and sleep within your budget. Of course depending on the time of year and if you have the proper equipment you can camp. For most people this would be the cheapest accommodations other than staying with friends or family but that is not always desirable. Other than camping, there are plenty of less expensive hotels and motels. Unfortunately you may need to do some legwork in the local area to find the best bargain. This will mean you roll the dice at least for the first night and dedicate at least a part of your first day at the vacation destination to finding great less expensive accommodations or a better equipped/higher quality place to stay. You might drop off each adult at a different hotel / motel and let they take the time to properly access the property (take digital pictures) and then go back and pick them up for the group comparison. This takes leg work but can be a sort of adventure and really pay off in a great value for the rest of the trip and more so if you plan to return to your new found choice of discount spots to go on vacation.

Next you need to figure out a way to eat as cheaply as possible while on this frugal family vacation. The first and most obvious choice for the majority of meals is to buy groceries and eat in the room wherever you are staying. This can be done quite easily for breakfast and lunch or even the evening meal although sometimes you might be able to afford one meal a day out and the evening meal might be your choice. You can save on eating out too if you check for local specials and have appetizers and drinks in the room before you leave for dinner. Another thing you can do is to buy a cake or pie and share it in a public place like the park or at the beach. It can be a lot of fun to just do something different.
Another twist on the evening meal is to grill out at a public place like the above mentioned park or beach just don't go over board and spend too much doing this. Make sure it stays simple so you don't kill the budget on the BBQ. Use common sense and try your best to buy things that can be used again and again all during the vacation. Use the KISS system and don't make the home meals complicated and this should help a lot with cost.

Finally we are left with entertainment for the week and a way to do it without spending a fortune. Of course, this is extremely dependent on where you are but usually most activities outside can be nearly free. Things like fishing and hiking, sightseeing, visiting museums and even old churches. Most areas have tourist information that will give you a list of what is in the area as well as you can research before you leave via the Internet. You might even plan your trip around festivals that can offer days of entertainment for next to no cost except for what you choose to spend.

If you have read this far you know a lot more about cheap places to go on vacation. We have covered transportation, shelter, food and entertainment for the family and how to make saving money fun if you plan your activities and do them as a family. There are cheap places to live and there are cheap places to vacation and sometimes you can find both not very far from home.


Beto Meditabundo said...

@boasorte I lived I'm Florida for 12 years. I love Florida and I miss it so much. I live in wisconsin now but it's for job reasons. I'm Hispanic and the Latin culture is very much alive in south Florida. Mostly in Miami like everything is in Spanish, I lived in Kendall (Miami) for a couple of years then moved to the ft lauderdale area. To be exact Coral Springs. You would love it there. Hands down top 5 cities to live in south florida. From coral springs you are 15 minutes from the beach at the furthest. Taxes are still 6 percent. Great people awesome environment. Low crime. Great schools. And you are 30 minutes from Miami to go party. Its a great place. I would also recommend Weston, Pembroke Pines, Kendall, Doral, Parkland, Sunrise, Aventura... Good luck!!

Frederick Guyton said...

Here is the list of the cheapest places in the world: top 10 budget places for vacation. You are welcome to choose one which is the most appropriate and suitable for your budget!