Make vacations doable on nearly any budget

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The New York Times reports that scientists from psychology to biology are finding that vacations and time away from the regular routines of daily life are helpful in promoting mental well-being and good physical health. You might be thinking, “Great, but they aren’t good for my wallet.” There are several ways in which you can make vacations a more frequent, budget-friendly part of your life.

Make Vacations Doable on Nearly Any Budget v2

Plan Convenient Trips

First and foremost, plan a short vacation that you can easily fit into your schedule: one or two nights over a weekend, or an extra day in the city where your next meeting or conference is held. You can see the highlights of a city in one day, enjoy a sporting event or even just lie out on the beach or in a spa and relax. If your line of work doesn’t take you out of your own neighborhood, considering looking for a local vacation; possibly even being a tourist in your own home town, complete with a hotel stay to really make you feel like you’re on vacation.

There are probably even cities within a few hours of your home chock full of sights and events that you’ve never seen or done before. Many states now even offer trip guides that tell residents about easy day trips within the state. One perk of taking a short trip that you can drive on a tank of gas or less is that you can leave on the spur of the moment. Another is that travel costs for a shorter trip are significantly less than going across the country.

How to Get Hotel Stays for Less

Like renting an apartment or a car, the playing field is not always level. The people in the rooms on either side of you at any given hotel might be paying more or less than what you are paying. There are several tips for getting your next hotel room at a lower rate. One way is to shop on online hotel sites like Hotels By Day, which lets users find top hotel rooms for the day, often a significantly cheaper option than staying overnight. Day guests have a home base in the city, and pay a fraction of nightly rates in the same luxury accommodations.

These “intra-day” stays bring convenience and flexibility while reducing your travel spend. If you’re planning a quick in-and-out trip, booking a day stay allows you to enjoy the area and head back home after. You’ll save at least 40% on hotel bills. Arriving early in the morning, with the HBD app, users can secure an 8am check-in without ever having to call the hotel. Find yourself wanting the rest of the day to enjoy hotel amenities but checkout time is approaching? Flip open the app, book an afternoon stay in 5 seconds and you’re done. Turnover, sleep some more and book that after lunch/pre-flight massage for 2pm.


Free, Fun Activities and Adventures

Many large cities and small towns are full of free or inexpensive entertainment options. Just walking the streets of town like New Orleans will fill your day with historic sites and the sounds of jazz. There are tons of free exhibits, explains MiniTrips; everything from a national historic site to a museum tour can be enjoyed for free. In places like Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago and Memphis you can find street corners teaming with street performers ready to entertain you. In some places you can even enjoy observatories for free.

Taking tours of college campuses, some of which can be quite beautiful, and driving down scenic highways is another fun, free way to spend a relaxing day away from the office. There are also national parks for picnics and tours. With these ideas in mind you can travel practically anywhere and have something enjoyable to do that won’t take a chunk out of your trip budget.

Meal Planning

Meals make up a huge cost while on vacation. You can make traveling more affordable by taking simple steps to cut your food costs. For families, look for hotels and resort packages that offer “kids eat free promotions,” suggests Some restaurants also offer kids eat free days or times. You can also cut food costs by looking for hotel rooms with a refrigerator and microwave so that you can take some of your meals in your room. Simply getting the free continental breakfast at your hotel and keeping a TV dinner in the fridge to heat up after your day of fun on the town can leave a lot of cash in your pocket.

The four main costs when considering a vacation are travel, lodging, meals and entertainment. With tips on how to save on hotel rooms, find free entertainment, and cut the cost of meals, taking a vacation can go from an unattainable dream to next weekend’s reality. Online companies and trip planning sites make it easy to find good deals and organize a trip that will leave you relaxed and keep your budget out of the red.

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About Michael Hodson

I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all.