Vacation On A Shoestring

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Vacation On A Shoestring

If you are like most of people, the holiday season leaves you exhausted and low-spirited. All the shopping you did, all the travels you went through, all the traffic you cursed, all the dishes you made, all the gifts you wrapped, all the smiles you faked – the holiday season can really take it out of you. And what’s worst – it’s over so soon you don’t even get a chance to celebrate it like you mean it! When January sneaks in you rightfully might NOT be in the best mood. That’s why January is such a perfect month to cheer yourself up and start planning a vacation.

Typically a vacation is a costly luxury and January is usually a pay-your-Christmas-debtstype of month so why would incurring extra expenses lift you up? Well, with the post-holidays blues kicking in, having something to look forward to is a well needed distraction. Plus our Vacation on a Shoestring Budget Guide contains budget friendly ideas carefully selected from various websites and reading it now means you still have at least a few months to start or expand your vacation fund.

Are you ready to plan now and spend less?

Are you an explorer or do you prefer typical and well known tourist destinations? Do you enjoy city breaks or are you more of a beach lover? Or maybe you’re all up for nature trails and camping? Realizing what your vacation personality is, becomes way more important than choosing a specific destination especially when you travel on a budget.

To find out more about your vacation personality, click here.

So Many Places, So Little Time

Once you get an idea of what sort of vacation you are looking for, deciding on a destination (destinations - if it’s a road trip) is inevitable. Luckily, talkative travelers have been leaving their footprint on the Internet for years now so you can easily not only Google your dream vacation spot but also read reviews and scroll through advice. Just start typing and be prepared for many, many results.

It will be best for your budget to choose a few ideal destinations as opposed to focusing on one spot. Being more flexible on the location might save you hundreds, especially if you are not very flexible on travelling dates (obviously being flexible on both location and dates is an optimal budget friendly solution but let’s be realistic here).

It’s All About The Journey

So you have your dream destinations narrowed down. Where are they in comparison to where you live? How far would you need to travel? How will you get to your dream place?

If you have chosen a road trip in your own car as one of your vacation ideas, you should only consider travelling within your own and neighboring states. Any further place will add extra time and cost, and this is what we are trying to avoid here. For Texas road trip ideas check here, for Louisiana road trip ideas check here and here.

If a road trip is out of the question and you prefer to spend your vacation in one spot, then your travel options open up to buses, trains and planes.

As flights usually take the least amount of time, it’s worth to consider them first. This is where aggregated flight search engines come in handy with their rapidly growing best-deal-finding features. It might be overwhelming to decide on using just one meta-search website which always offers the CHEAPEST options so why not shop around? It’s still January after all! For details on those useful online flight search tools, click here.

If you prefer ground transportation, that choice is available too. Unfortunately, the only bus and train meta search service, Wanderu, doesn’t work wonders if you are not sure where you want to go exactly. And even if you do, it doesn’t make any recommendations based on your previous searches, which means you might spend ages selecting various dates and locations. Similarly, CheckMyBus doesn’t help much either. It is actually much quicker and more efficient to visit individual bus and train providers and try for their sweet deals. You can find USA bus operators here or try your luck with Amtrak.

Let’s Get Busy

If your vacation involves lying on the beach all day, feel free to skip this section.

Having chosen your destination means you can finally plan activities to do and places to see within the area. Here again, Google proves to be indispensable. Even with  TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet being the first results, you can still find travelling blogs presenting many ideas on what to see in the area and how to see it for less. Make sure to check opening times and admission prices of local attractions in advance. You can save money by purchasing special passes instead of buying tickets at each individual place. You can also save both time and money by buying online as opposed to onsite.

Even if you choose staying in one place, don’t forget that you still need to move between attractions. Check local means of transport and don’t forget to download the Uber app just in case!

Sleep Like A Baby…

Accommodation is such a big part of your vacation, especially if you plan to stay in one place for the entire time that you need to consider your needs before budget. You don’t need 5 star hotel luxury to feel that you are on vacation but you probably need access to a clean bathroom and opportunity to have an undisturbed sleep. RVs or tents are not for everyone either and you don’t need to feel forced to choose the CHEAPEST option just because you are travelling on a budget.

You can still stay at a nice and reasonably priced hotel by following these tips or you can get more flavor for the area by staying with the locals through Airbnb.

Eat Like A King (or Queen)

While accommodations are usually counted in your vacation budget, food spending becomes easily overlooked and tends to surprise us. We can’t avoid eating but we can follow a few simple vacation eating-out rules by planning ahead. Check out those tips  here.

Just Give Me a Break!

Does all of the above seem a little bit overwhelming? Perhaps you are not the sort of person who can spend many hours on Internet research just to find the best deal. How about choosing a discounted packaged deal at Groupon Gateaways or Groupon Last Minute Travel Deals instead? They are designed for travelers who want to spend less but don’t fancy making all the flight and accommodation choices. Packaged deals still let you decide on HOW you are going to spend your time away, though, so you maintain a comfortable level of freedom.

Planning a vacation on a shoestring budget is a challenge, that’s for sure but it’s also an eye opening and horizon widening experience. And as Joyce Meyer once said, “we don't grow when things are easy; we grow when we face challenges”. So let’s plan a vacation and let’s grow!