Sometimes you want to go where no one knows your name. I used to always say that when my parents were watching Cheers and I’m sure they really appreciated it. Seriously though, sometimes you just need to get away and escape the mundane. We all have responsibilities and schedules, but doesn’t it feel nice to just leave them for a while and change your scenery?
The problem is that a lot of people can’t afford that little get away, but I assure you that it is healthy and rejuvenating to experience something new. There have been times where the idea of taking a luxurious vacation was laughable for our family, but for our own sanity we knew we had to find a way to just get out of town. We like to plan and we have discovered that through planning we can find ways to take fun and inexpensive little trips that make us all happy.
Only Eat Out Once a Day
Our favorite part of vacations is the food. We love to plan our meals and research the most popular restaurants in the area and have been known to take entire trips based on a restaurant we want to try. However, we plan in advance for costs of the food. If we don’t stay at a hotel that offers free breakfast, we always take breakfast food with us then we check out the menus of the places we want to eat. IF we can get the food that we want at lunch, we usually go then, but if we cannot then we wait and have an early dinner. When we are busy enjoying various activities we usually aren’t super hungry, but we always pack extra snacks just in case.
VRBO and AirBnB
I LOVE staying in these! For one thing, I think it’s really great that I can rent a place to stay from someone who may need the income to keep the little place they love. The best part though is the prices. Some places charge crazy cleaning fees or deposits so you have to be careful about that, but you can usually find a pretty great deal! We got a 3 bedroom/3 bath condo in Orlando for cheaper than staying in a regular hotel and everyone had plenty of space!
National and State Parks
The best thing about Washington DC is that most of the museums and attractions are free. You don’t have to go to DC to see amazing attractions, you have State and National parks nearby that you probably have not explored. Recently, we needed to just get away for a bit and so we drove 45 minutes to Andersonville National Historic Site. I have been many times through the years, but it was such fun to see the kids learn and explore as well.
We went through the POW museum and then walked the site of Andersonville Prison. There was even a nearby village that had a blacksmith shop and old mill where the people were so happy to see the kids and teach them a few things. You may be concerned that kids would find it boring, but they were actually quite enthusiastic. We have decided to continue exploring National and State Parks for small adventures.
I admit that I am not a camping kind of girl. I have tried it, but I am just not comfortable with it. However, I know lots of people that love to camp. This would be an ideal way to save a bit of money and to really enjoy being with your family in the great outdoors. Okay now that I’ve typed it I want to try it again.
Make Plans and Pay With Cash
You should always have a plan. I know there will be additional costs along the way, but a good estimate is very important. I start putting cash aside each week when I know we are going on a trip and try to say that is the limit that we can spend. We rarely go over the designated amount and since we have saved the money over time we don’t feel as though we have taken a loss.
Save your pennies
Our first year of marriage we had a tall jar in the corner of our bedroom that we would put our change in every night. It’s something my father always did and I wanted to continue the tradition. When it was time to go on our first anniversary trip we decided to cash in the coins and discovered we had enough to pay for our meal at a fine dining restaurant we had been desperate to try. Ever since, we have saved our change and traded it in once a year for something we really want to do.
Check for Discounts
In several of the larger cities we have gone to they have offered a City Pass. For a special rate you can experience a number of the city’s top attractions and it is definitely worth it! You can also check for Groupons while you are planning the trip. Local restaurants will often advertise by offering a coupon for a meal so be sure to check out brochures and guide books in your room.
The best way to explore and understand a place is if you walk through it. If possible, find lodging near the attractions so that you don’t have to take your vehicle or pay for transportation. You will save money and you will experience the city in a different way.
I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped us! A little escape is good for the soul, so go find an adventure!