As spring turns into summer, many people are looking to hit the road for the traditional summer vacation. The COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to increased travel this summer. As restrictions have eased and locations have opened up, “revenge travel” is opening up as people look to go on all the trips they’ve missed over the past year or so. With many budgets still tight, here are a few things to consider as you hit the road for your next vacation.
Choosing affordable adventure
The first thing to keep in mind is why it might make sense to choose an affordable adventure. For many people, money is still tight as we recover from any economic impacts from COVID-19. And after all, who likes spending more money than they have to! So if you are in a situation where you’re looking for an affordable adventure, here are some great ways to save money on your next trip.
In most cases, your travel and lodging costs are the highest components of any trip or vacation. There are a variety of different ways that you can save in these two categories. One way is to consider using credit card rewards to help offset your hotel and airline costs. Just signing up for one or two credit cards can potentially give you enough points to offset a good chunk of your airfare and/or hotel costs.
Pro-tip: Use our free travel budget calculator to help plan your next trip!
Look at day trips and staycations
Another way to reduce the amount of money that you spend on travel and lodging is to look at day trips and staycations. With a staycation, you typically explore your hometown as a tourist and sleep in your own bed each night. A day trip can work the same way, where you travel by car to a nearby destination, spend the day and then return home at night. You will spend some money on gas but nowhere near the cost of a hotel room.
Another idea for an affordable adventure is to take more of an extended day trip. By combining a couple of day trip ideas into a longer road trip, you still save money on your transportation. Especially if you have a larger household, being able to road trip all in one car saves a lot of money compared to having to buy everyone their own ticket. Road trips are a popular vacation idea this summer, and will likely put you in contact with fewer people than traveling by airplane if that’s something that’s important to you.
Consider a National Parks pass
Besides your travel and lodging, another big factor towards the total cost of your vacation are your entertainment costs. If you have Yellowstone, Yosemite, or any of the over 2,000 National Parks and Federal Lands on your bucket list, consider buying an America the Beautiful pass. Available for $80, this pass is good for a year and allows the pass owner plus three adults (or the entire car where the entrance is charged per car) entry into more than 2,000 federal recreation sites.
You’ll also want to research what the conditions are before you get to your park, rather than just showing up and hoping for the best. Different National Parks have reopened in different ways, with some parks still completely closed, while others only have certain areas or programs open. Due to the increase in popularity of outdoor destinations this summer, many National Parks are extremely busy, especially those that are still limiting the total number of visitors per day. It’s a smart idea to research your destinations ahead of time so that you can know what to expect.
Affordable travel gear
The MOST inexpensive way that you can travel is to use things that you already have, rather than spending money on gear that you won’t use or won’t use often. Still, you want to make sure that you are putting yourself in a position to have a great trip. If you’re planning on hiking or being outdoors, you’ll want to make sure that you have comfortable shoes and a great backpack. If you’re traveling by airplane, look into a neck pillow or a similar gadget to make your flight more enjoyable. And investing in a quality suitcase will likely pay off over time.
The Bottom Line
The cost of travel and lodging are two of the biggest factors in determining how affordable your next trip will be. Just like any other expense, creating a budget or a sinking fund can help you have fun without going into debt. Make a plan and you’ll be well on your way to having an amazing time and making outstanding memories.