Ten Vacation Ideas That Don’t Have to Cost a Bundle

Do vacations have to cost lots of money? Do you have to go far away to enjoy them?

1.  Head to the lake! Go to Google maps, identify the closest lake to where you live.  Then search for rentals on the lake.  You save travel costs to far away places, but still feel like you’ve been away.

2.  See a park! Visit the closest state or national park to where you live and camp or stay in a cabin.  Prices are usually very affordable.

3.  Staycastion Idea:  Visit the closest art museum, and, assuming it is within 1 to 2 hours, return home rather than stay in a hotel.

4.  Rent a house, not hotel. Heard of HomeAway.com, or VRBO.com?  Excellent opportunities to find rental houses/condos in excellent locations without high cost of big hotels (but beware!  There are all price ranges, so pick carefully).

5.  Summer in the mountains.  Head to the mountains and not the beaches!  Many ski resorts across the country have summer activities including hiking, white water rafting, golf, etc.  Costs are generally lower than winter months which is high season.

6.  Kayak stayacation.  Our family loves to kayak.  We don’t own kayaks, but we enjoy renting them.  For this vacation, spend the day on a local lake.  Be sure to bring the sunscreen!

7.  Hike.  Identify great hikes in your area.  Start you search online, but if that doesn’t help, Barnes and Noble (or any other book seller) ought to have a section on outdoor activities.  Spend a day hiking, again with the advantage that you don’t have to stay away from home for the night.

8. Boat staycation.  Don’t own a boat?  No problem.  In recent years boat clubs have begun to spring up.  Arrange to rent a boat of your choice.  This can get pricey, but you can sometimes find daily deals with boat club deals.  There are almost always a wide variety of boat types available.

9. Cooking Class Staycation — use Google or your favorite search engine to locate a cooking class and take the whole family to it.  Heck, take two families.  The fun here is that you usually get to eat what you cook.

10.  Race a Car – Another staycation idea is to locate a company that lets you race cars.  If you live close to a large race track it is most likely that there is a company that does this.  Google is your friend.


Add to the list!  Turn these 10 suggestions in to 20, 30, 100!  What have you done or heard done for a cheap and simple vacation?

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by Thad on March 30, 2012 · 11 comments

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  • http://www.add-vodka.com Daisy

    Great ideas! Doing things “off season” like Worksavelive says is also a great money saving tip. Like skiing/snowboarding, skating, etc.

    • http://www.thadthoughts.com Thad

      Off season is certainly the way to go…or right before “in-season” starts. We saved a bunch on a vacation last year that was right before summer high season started. The weather was good, but the prices were better.

  • http://wellheeledblog.com Well Heeled Blog

    I’ve had good luck checking out deals on LivingSocial Escapes and TravelZoo. If you have a home in a touristy area and you are comfortable with the risk, you can also do home-swaps – that will get you free vacation lodging.

    • http://www.thadthoughts.com Thad

      I have heard about the home-swaps, but am not too sure how comfortable I would be about doing one. I think the daily deal sites are an excellent way to score some great vacation savings.

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  • http://www.joyfulselfmanager.com Anthony Thompson

    These are some great and totally fun vacation ideas. I’ve never heard of HomeAway.com, or VRBO.com, but they sound like a couple of good sites to check out.

    I love each and everyone of your vacation suggestions. Thank you for sharing.

    • http://www.thadthoughts.com Thad

      You are very kind Anthony! I really like the staycation ideas–when gas is $4.00+- a gallon I would rather stay close to home and enjoy the things in the area!

  • http://worksavelive.com WorkSaveLive

    I looooove VRBO. I’ve never vacationed anywhere without using it – you can just find so many good deals and the houses/condos you rent are amazing!

    I’ll echo your thoughts on going to the mountains in the summer. It is MUCH cheaper there that time of year and there is so much to do that is inexpensive: white water rafting, hiking, biking, touring small/awesome towns, fishing, etc.

    • http://www.thadthoughts.com Thad

      We have used them several times. Always a great experience. Saved money every time.

      We have friends who many years ago were able to ski in Colorado in early June! Doesn’t happen every year, but it can happen!

      • http://worksavelive.com WorkSaveLive

        We skied in March/April and saved quite a bit of money. Although I don’t think the “powder” was all that great.

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