Traveling even short distances can be expensive during peak vacation months like July and August. But with creativity and planning, having a holiday on the cheap (we’re talking really, really cheap) is not only possible but can be really fun. After all, the attitude adjustment a getaway can provide doesn’t always require a major latitude – or longitude – adjustment.
Here are 11 ideas for getting away from your day-to-day grind without feeling short-changed, both literally and figuratively.
1. Be a tourist in your own town
Yes, we’re suggesting a staycation, but instead of spending time doing things around your house, get out and see your city from the perspective of a tourist. Rent a hotel room for a night or book an Airbnb (maybe one with a pool!) and get away from your everyday routine.
2. Rent an RV
Recreational vehicle parks abound throughout the country, and services like Outdoorsy let you enjoy the fun of the RV life without having to go all-in on purchasing an RV. Find your RV, find your campground and hit the road. Don’t have a hitch? No problem. There are drivable RVs available, and some RV owners will even drop off and set up the RV for you at your desired destination.
3. Go backpacking ...
If an RV sounds too fancy for your tastes and you prefer something more rugged, consider a long weekend carrying everything you need to survive on your back. While gear can be expensive if you don’t already own it, stores like REI often rent the equipment you need at less expense than buying.
4. ... or geocaching
Do you like treasure hunts? Geocaching is exactly that, on a global scale – and no, this isn’t virtual reality, it’s real reality. Just go to the official geocaching website and see how many goecaches are near you. Sign up and get started using your phone or GPS for a free adventure.
5. Do a house swap
If you’re willing to let someone stay in your home while you stay in theirs, house swapping can be a great way to see someplace new for cheap. There are lots of house swapping websites where you can explore your options. Also, before you pursue this option, make sure your homeowners insurance policy will cover any problems that arise while someone is staying in your home.
6. Be a voluntourist
If you don’t mind a little work on your holiday, voluntourism is a great way to see new places, meet new people and do some good in the world. Working ranches and farms offer free or discounted accommodation for doing some work. Not only is it a less expensive way to vacation, you’ll likely learn something new in the process.
7. Do a summer share
Wish you could rent a house for the summer on the beach or lake but don’t have the funds? How about sharing it with friends and family? Summer shares can be a great way to enjoy a getaway without all the expense. Whether you share the home simultaneously or divide it by specific days, you’ve got a destination to enjoy all summer long.
8. Visit friends & family
Maybe some of your friends or family members would charge you for your room and board if you go for a visit, but probably not, right? Unless, of course, you decide to stay for weeks or months on end. But a weekend or even weeklong getaway to catch up and enjoy some quality time is a great way to break up your routine. Travel options like Megabus make getting away cheaper and easier, even if you don’t have a car.
9. Build an adult pillow fort
If money is really tight, get creative and turn your home into something entirely new. Camp out in the living room with a blow-up mattress or even a tent to make a dramatic change. Even better, you could build a pillow fort with sofa cushions, sheets and whatever else helps you fortify your camp. Buy some of your favorite junk food, rent a few movies and you’ve created a memorable weekend shakeup for almost no money whatsoever.
10. Be a house sitter
It’s possible to make a little money during your getaway. One of the easiest ways to do this is to house-sit for someone. Services like TaskRabbit make it easy to get your information out there for people who may be looking for a house sitter. Or you could let your friends and co-workers know you’re up to the task if they’re heading out of town. Keep your rates low and you may be able to live in someone else’s home all summer long.
11. Hit the beach
Beaches are still one of the least expensive getaways around. Even if you live in a landlocked state, there are plenty of sunny options where sand and water meet, meaning you can probably pull it off as a day trip, overnighter or weekend getaway.