Americans are notorious for letting vacation days go to waste. Why are we so anti-vacation? Studies show that 87% of Americans say they would take more leisure time if they felt they had the time and money to do so.
While there’s not much we can do to get your boss off your back, we did speak with travel experts from around the web to gather ideas on maximizing those tight vacation budgets. Here are our favorite insider tips on taking much-needed vacations (no stay-cations here) on the cheap.
Focus on the experience, not the destination
“Too often, people get set on a particular destination (let’s say Maui), and when they search for flights or hotels, that destination might be too expensive,” says Robb Henshaw of GetGoing.com. “Instead of deciding you can’t afford to go, consider alternative destinations that would provide you with the same experience.” GetGoing.com is a tool that you can use to search by experience rather than destination – you never know what alternative beach or camping spot might be in your budget!
Consider alternate routes
Airfare is one of the most expensive parts of any trip. Why not consider an alternative form of transportation? Megabus, Greyhound and Amtrak are all known for their affordable rates, and can get you to dozens of domestic destinations while taking in the American countryside.
Make it a roadtrip
Speaking of road trips, traveling by car is another great way to stay within budget for your vacation. There are a number of great tools for finding local businesses and adventure off the beaten path. One of our favorite sources of road trip inspiration is Roadtrippers, a website and app that helps you route the trip and identify landmarks. Also be sure to check out their Facebook page for a stream of unexpected road trip destination ideas.
Take advantage of frequent flier miles
If distance or timing is an issue for your vacation, flying might be the way to go. Frequent flier miles are a great way to save money on flights – just remember to keep an eye on expiration dates and annual fees to avoid getting robbed of your hard-earned miles. For more tips on getting the most out of frequent flier miles, check out the thepointsguy.com, a blog that focuses exclusively on maximizing airline rewards.
Lodge with Airbnb
You know Airbnb as a way to earn money by renting out your home, but on the other side of the equation it’s also a great tool for traveling on the cheap. Renting unoccupied living spaces – from luxury apartments to tree houses to airstream trailers – is often cheaper than renting a hotel room or condo for your stay.
Don’t dine out for every meal
“It is tempting on vacation to want to explore all the fine culinary experiences around you,” says Robert Kissell of Southern Shores Realty. “Be prepared to cook some meals for yourself and stay on track. My family has found that dining out for lunch, for example, is far less expensive than dinner out. Making small changes like this make a huge difference.”
Reduce home costs while you’re away
There’s no reason to incur the day-to-day costs of home life while you’re away. Plan in advance to take care of these chores, from finding affordable care for your pets, to freezing your gym membership, using up perishable food and turning off any electricity costs you might incur while away.