Do you love to travel? I love taking trips, seeing new places, meeting new people, and trying new experiences. But there’s nothing worse than coming home from a trip dragging a big, fat credit card bill. If you spend half the year paying off your last vacation, it’s really hard to get to the point where you can save for the next vacation. And that’s our ultimate goal, to be able to save ahead and pay cash so that we have no “vacation regret” weighing us down.
Becoming financially independent means that we live by a budget, and until you’re debt free there probably isn’t a lot of extra room in the budget to go on expensive vacations. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t go anywhere. While you are paying off debt you may have to curtail your activities a bit, but this should just be a temporary thing, while we are getting our finances under control. Until then, though, we can still go on some great trips if we do it right.
How can you afford to go on vacation on a budget? You have to get creative, thinking outside the box for trips you can take that you can pay cash for. I talk a lot about finding fun things to do that cost little or no money, but I want to share some stories from a few friends who were willing to share stories and photos of their bargain trips that show that you can take amazing trips without breaking your budget.
Megan Heuberger, of www.bikinibarrel.com, says that flying on September 11 is always really cheap, which she states is “sad but true”. She also shared photos from a trip where she camped free on the beach in Baja for 2 weeks, which sounds like such a good time.
Honestly, if I am on a beach vacation I am rarely in the room anyway, I spend the entire time on the beach or in the swimming. I think I could easily pitch a tent and sleep out by the water.
Katie English, of www.homesick-wanderlust.com, said she was able to buy an error flight on Travel Pirates to get a great deal on airfare to Chile. Travel Pirates is a website dedicated to inexpensive travel, and if you are lucky you can take advantage of errors on published prices for hotels or airfare before the error is discovered and corrected. It takes research and diligence to find these types of deals, so you have to be patient and flexible in your travel plans.
Jennifer Hewitt, of www.myperfectlydamagedlife.com, was able to take a trip to Thatch Caye, a private island resort off of the mainland of Belize for a discount that she found on Groupon. They stayed in a villa over the water, that had a patio with a hammock. Many activities were included in the deal, including kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. They also had bicycles available to get around the island.
Jacquelyn Marie, from https://facebook.com/gettinglosttogether/, rented a cabin for a week in Maine for $500. She said it was on a lake overlooking Mount Katahdin, is called the Woodworth Family Estate, and was “secluded and amazing”.
In an article Jacqueline wrote about their week in the cabin, she stated “we spent much of the vacation relaxing around the cabin, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, playing on the beach, visiting with family and friends and enjoying the wildlife around our cabin”.
We recently spent a week in Mebane, NC. We were able to rent a home just out of the town of Mebane that was large enough to sleep all 8 of us for $150/night. This was a whole lot less expensive than getting three hotel rooms would have been, and it was very quiet there, where we could wind down. It also had a BBQ grill on the deck where we cooked dinner and watched the fireflies. This was probably the most exciting feature because we don’t have fireflies here in Wyoming. I found the deal on Airbnb; the website has listings for a variety of available rentals all over the world, from whole homes or condos, to single rooms.
We have a large family, so I always try to find places to stay that accommodate several, and a place to cook is always a bonus. This saves so much money, we can eat out if we choose, but we don’t have to. It’s also really nice with small children who wake up needing to eat right away, they can have breakfast without dragging the whole family out of bed to get dressed and going in the morning. If you have teens, it’s handy to have plenty of snacks on hand, and room to get away from each other too.
There may be places to buy travel that you don’t normally think of. Big box stores, such as Sam’s Club and Costco, sell travel packages. You can also book travel through memberships such as AAA. Watch for last minute deals. Sometimes when hotels or flights aren’t booked up you can get a discounted price if you are flexible on dates or destinations. Try also to think about alternate forms of travel, such as taking a train. Riding cross country on the train is very economical, and the scenery is different than what you can see from the highway.
All of these examples show that you can have a great time if you are willing to rethink how you travel. And if you save so that you can pay cash for your trip, you can still stay on track to become debt free. Remember that travel is something we do for enjoyment, and overspending on a vacation is not relaxing or enjoyable. And being able to go have fun periodically helps us stay motivated to reach our ultimate goal of being completely debt free. What are your best bargain travel ideas?