10 Cheap Vacation Ideas: How to Vacation without Busting Your Budget
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As summer sets in, many Americans are looking for cheap vacation ideas. And it’s no wonder. A family vacation can set you back a couple of paychecks before you know it.

First, let me tell you it’s worth it for your soul, creativity, and stress level to take time off. We all need to step out of and away from our everyday lives in order to reset and recharge.

Second, let me tell you that you can vacation without breaking the bank. There are plenty of ways to vacation on the cheap for a few days…or longer. Here are some ideas that will let you get away and make memories without breaking the bank.



I know a few of my clients are rolling their eyes at this option. Camping is not for everyone, but it is an affordable way to get out of town and spend time with friends or family. Whether it’s for a night, a week or something in between, getting away from modern conveniences (and interruptions!) to enjoy the great outdoors is good for the soul. Not to mention, campsites usually run less than $20/night – far cheaper than a hotel room. For example, you can camp at Yosemite national park for less than $30 a night. That’s a steal. Or if you really like to rough it and are ok camping in the wild, that’s free.


We all need to get away. Even if you can only manage to “get away” in your own town for a night or two, you can still feel recharged. Find deals on hotels in the off-peak season in your city or near where you live. You can enjoy the resort life (maybe even splurge on room service!) for a few days without having to buy a flight out of town.

Group Travel

Gather a group of your closest friends and family and plan a trip. Find a destination that works for everybody and use discounts afforded to group travelers. Many hotels and airlines offer group rates. Or you can rent a large house with primo accommodation for less than you might pay if everyone stayed somewhere separately.

Couch Surf

Do you have a friend or family member in a city or a place you’ve always wanted to visit? Ask if you can stay with them for a few days to explore their city. As a kind gesture, maybe offer to buy groceries or take them out to dinner one night. Or surprise them with a host or hostess gift. That cost is still going to be far less than had you booked a hotel room or stayed at an Airbnb in that same destination.

Trade Homes

Don’t want to stay with a friend? Ask if you can trade homes with them for a week. Leave a list of must-see destinations in your hometown and ask them to do the same for you.

Travel Off-Season

Peak travel season means peak prices. By going to a place during times of the year that are slower, you’ll save a lot of money. Summer is a great time to visit the Phoenix area, for example. Yes, it’s hot here, but there are a TON of resorts and hotels offering pools, spas, and food to keep you cool, comfortable, and stress-free. And some of them are even being offered at a discount.

Get Cheap Flights

PLane tickets can be the costliest part of any vacation budget, especially if you’re traveling as a family of four or more. By saving on air travel, you can drastically reduce the overall cost of your vacation. We love Airfare Watchdog to search for the best deal on flights. If you have a destination in mind, you can set up an alert and receive an email when deals to your city are available.

Take FREE tours

Many cities offer free walking tours. It’s a great way to get to know the must-see places in an unfamiliar area. And it provides something to do without spending a dime.

Think Outside the Box

The most popular places are also the most expensive because they are tourist destinations. These places thrive on getting tourists and those tourists paying a premium. Get creative and find an alternative to an expensive destination you have in mind. You don’t have to go to Costa Rica to experience the rainforest!

Whatever you choose, I want you to enjoy your time away and make some lasting memories. And if after reading through all of these options, you know you want to go a little bigger for your next trip, read this post on how to budget for a vacation.  

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