Have you ever been jealous of those friends whose social feed is full of photos from their cruise, their trip to Europe, or their hike in the Rocky Mountains? It’s funny how everyone else seems to lead a glamorous life of travel and experiences, when I sit at home doing laundry and watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Here are a few tips I’d just like to share with you to help you find ways to cheaply get away when you can’t really afford constant travel.
Make work travel more fun.
Do you travel for work? In our world of large corporations, a lot of people make trips for work. If your work allows you to attend conferences and seminars, take advantage of that time away from the office to learn and be refreshed. It’s amazing how excited I am about teaching and music after a weekend seminar with good coffee and a comfy hotel bed. Even though you’re still working, look at work trips as a chance to rejuvenate, even if that just means extra rest and good conference snacks!
I have several relatives, including my husband, that regularly travel for work to visit site locations. If you have these opportunities, enjoy the chance to see a new city, try new food, and embrace a change of pace. Some companies even allow their employees to bring their spouses or other guests along with them. If you and your spouse can take advantage of opportunities like this, you have yourselves an inexpensive getaway. Sure, maybe one of you is in the office all day, but you can explore the area and have a romantic evening after the work is over!
Save up for a big trip.
In the past year and a half, my husband and I have taken a cruise, visited Washington, D.C., travelled to see family in Michigan, Tennessee, and Georgia, and I have been to Europe. For a couple in their first year and a half of marriage, that seems like a lot to me. I also plan to travel with my school twice more in the coming months. How can we afford this? (Let’s be real, you’ve seen our budget.) We save.
Savings for travel need to be budgeted monthly. You don’t build up thousands of dollars in extra cash overnight. Well, maybe you do, but we certainly don’t. If you set aside even $20 a week for a year, that’s over $1,000 you’d have toward a vacation! Little by little is key.
One thing my husband and I do to save money for anniversary trips is keeping a change jar. All of our change goes into the jar and occasionally, we add a little bit of cash as well. We might add $5 when we get an unexpected gift or $20 when we work overtime and make extra cash. Little by little, we build up enough for anniversary trips. We completely paid for a 3-day stay in Atlanta to celebrate our last anniversary with this little jar. Pretty nice!
Use the internet to find good deals on trips.
You have to be careful any time you book a trip on a deal site, but it can be done. Ryan and I booked our first anniversary trip to Atlanta with Groupon.com, and definitely got a fabulous deal. We saved about $250 with the Groupon when all was said and done.
AND, the hotel clerk found out it was our anniversary and bumped us up to a top-floor suite for the weekend and gave us a free 4-course dinner for two. Woohoo!
It never hurts to mention that you’re celebrating an occasion. Perhaps a server will just be nicer and help make your night fun, or perhaps you’ll be blessed with extra perks. Our hotel went the extra mile to make things special because they wanted our loyalty, and you know what? They got it. We will certainly remember how well we were treated there when going back to the area.
Book a staycation.
Wait, what?? You read it, a staycation. This is the cheesy word for spending time at home not working and trucking kids to soccer and running a million errands. If you need some time to rest, but you have limited funds, take a few days off and enjoy your home.
You have to be very disciplined to actually make this work, but you can do it! Clear your calendar, avoid errands, let your kids spend a night or two at Grandma’s, and spend some time alone with your spouse. Order a pizza and take a walk through the park. Watch a movie in your home and remember what it feels like to retreat there from the busy world. Staying home can be a great time to rest if you commit to removing distractions.
Take a day trip.
Just because you can’t take a month off and tour the Andes Mountains with a Sherpa, doesn’t mean that you can’t explore new things. Stay a little closer to home. Find out what tourists want to see within an hour or two of your neck of the woods. Hike some local hills, go apple-picking, tour a local museum, or see a show. Even antiquing and a nice lunch in a nearby town could be a great escape without breaking the bank.
If you take a day trip, you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for transportation or lodging, but you still get to explore something new and be “unreachable” by the stress that surrounds your busy life.
Explore your home town.
Don’t have time to even spend an hour or two in the car? Explore what’s right around you! You know that local restaurant everybody talks about? Go there! Look up local attractions online or in a guidebook about your region. Support local business by souvenir shopping in your downtown. You’ll enjoy the time you spend, and you’ll have local places to show out-of-town guests next time they come by.
Find cool things to see and do when visiting relatives.
If you’re like my husband and me, most of our travel revolves around holidays and seeing family. If you’re road-tripping, consider stopping along the way to see things you might normally drive right by.
Ask your relatives about interesting things to do and see in their area. They’ll usually be pleased to show you their favorite things, and then you can avoid spending hours on the couch watching television and making small talk. Instead, you’ll be making memories in some of your family’s favorite spots.
Adjust your perspective.
What rejuvenates you? Is it rest? Time with your spouse? Time alone? Do you like to see and do a lot of things, or relax and take life at a slower pace? Remember that vacation doesn’t always have to be exotic. Beautiful memories can happen no matter where you are because you’re with friends or family that love you.
Avoid comparing yourself to your social feed. When you see that friends post exotic experiences, remember that boring moments don’t often make the social media publishing cut. They have normal lives just like you do.
Don’t give up on your dreams of travelling the world and experiencing new things! Just remember to be patient, consistent in saving, and to enjoy wherever God has placed you for the time being.