Sometimes vacation can seem like an unaffordable luxury. Make sure you think about vacation time when you’re negotiating your overall compensation package with a new employer. Work your vacation expenses into your annual budget and save for it.
We believe that everybody deserves to take a break. No matter what your budget is, there is a vacation out there for you! Here are some ideas for planning a low-cost vacation:
- Plan a staycation. There are lots of great daytrips around the area. If you can’t afford to get out of town, stay here — but really vacation. Unplug. Plan the daytrips you’ve been meaning to take for, oh, the last 10 years. Visit your favorite museum, take the kids to an amusement park, go for a hike at Great Falls, a bike ride on the C&O canal, kayaking on the Potomac, a driving tour of a civil war battlefield, or fishing at your favorite spot.
- Camping or RVing! We know that this isn’t for everyone. But if you like the outdoors, this is an excellent — and affordable — option. So grab your gear and head to your nearest National Park (or State Park). If you don’t already own camping equipment, consider renting or borrowing from a friend. You can also rent a cabin, the slightly more upscale version of camping.
- Keep it local. Instead of jetting to Europe or even flying to the West Coast, pick a spot close by. If you love the beach, check out Assateague, Chincoteague, Dewey Beach, Cape May, the North Carolina Outer Banks, etc. If the mountains are your thing, we’re not far from some great national forests, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and super close by, Catoctin. If you like cities, there’s Atlantic City, NYC, Philly, Asheville (so cute!), and Nashville, all within driving distance.
- Stay with friends you haven’t made yet. Sites like CouchSurfing let you connect with like-minded people who love travel so that you can crash on their couch for free! A great option if you’re road tripping or backpacking and enjoy meeting new people.
- Stay with family or friends. Free lodging! Ahem, we mean, great memories. Vacation is the perfect opportunity to catch up with far-away friends and relatives.
- Rent a place on Airbnb or a similar site, instead of shelling out for an expensive hotel. If you get a place with a kitchen, you can cook some of your meals instead of eating out all the time. Most people think that bed and breakfasts are more expensive than hotels — this is not always the case.
- Go to a developing country. If you do have the itch to go abroad, consider going somewhere off the beaten path — it’ll be a great adventure, and cheaper than, say, Europe. Staying in a hostel, eating like a local, and taking local transportation can all help you save money. So will staying in one place rather than trying to cram three cities into one week. Sites like Kayak and Hopper’s flight predictor can help you find a cheap flight. Be sure to check with your Community Ladders advisor about getting money and using credit cards abroad — we have different advice for different countries and situations.
- Take a cruise or book an all-inclusive deal. Not a hostel person? Consider taking a cruise or booking an all-inclusive package deal that includes flight, hotel, food, and alcohol somewhere like CheapCaribbean or Travel Zoo. You won’t get as much freedom to choose where and what you eat, but you’ll also save a lot on eating out. Note that you may have to pay for airport transfers yourself, which are often costly.
Vacation is a great way to build family memories and a much-needed way to de-stress (and actually increase your productivity at work). For more great tips, or to learn more about Community Ladders, come to our Member Appreciation Rooftop Party — non-Members are welcome!