Ideas and Tips to Get Away Whenever YOU want!
I have a gypsy soul – at least that’s what I tell Doug. I ALWAYS want to jump in the car and run away, but our bank account hasn’t always agreed with my plans. That hasn’t stopped me. I’ve just learned to be more frugal. So you want to get away for the weekend, but your bank account says you should probably stay home… No worries, you can still do this!
Hotel Stays vs Camping
A very easy way to save money is to change up which hotel you stay in. This alone can save over $100 a night depending on how classy your first choice was, and how ‘basic’ your final result is. Staying in a less frills hotel doesn’t mean you will enjoy your destination any less. Use it to your advantage! Make it the reason you do more exploring instead of hanging out in your room. We happen to be big fans of Motel 6. Always clean, pet friendly, and provide a place to rest our heads at night.
Depending on the time of year, camping is a viable option to omit the hotel altogether. Camping doesn’t need to mean tent and sleeping bags on the ground (although this is definitely going to be the least expensive option), it could be cabin camping, or RV camping. Just like hotels, depending on the amenities of the campground the price can vary greatly. Evaluate again – do we need to go swimming or have the club house where we can play a round of pool?
We are fans of KOA. There are 3 different types of KOA’s Holiday, Journey, and Resort. Journey is usually right off of the highway and good for the night. Holiday offer’s amenities such as pools and cabins, and are located closer to destinations. And Resort is just that, they are more ideal for longer stays with staff-led activities all while staying within the campground.
Find one that fits your needs. KOA is not the only option, with a little searching you may find an even less expensive place to stay that offer’s everything you need. If you don’t mind pulling out and using the tents, a lot of state parks offer camping for around $10.00 per night.
I’m a foodie – so this one was really hard for me. Saving money on food is no brainer, but how to save that money on food while traveling isn’t always as easy. Tricks we’ve learned – Pack a snack. If you are going out for a few hours, grab a backpack and throw an apple or granola bar and a bottle of water in there for everyone. I know, it’s not necessarily the fried Buffalo wings you want for a mid-afternoon snack, but if you’re really hungry, that granola bar or apple will do just fine to hold you over until the next meal.
That bottle of water will prevent you from stopping in somewhere to grab a drink and unintentionally staying for 3 hours because you ordered a bacon cheeseburger. A good friend of mine pointed out; we always pack a diaper bag for the baby’s emergencies, why don’t we pack an emergency bag for ourselves? Pack the Snack!
Cook! Again, I know, you’re on a vacation or day trip – who wants to cook? KISS – K.I.S.S. – Keep it Simple Stupid J Cooking while traveling can be super simple and doesn’t need to be a chore that no one wants. Cabin camping? Throw some burgers on the grill and pick up potato salad from the local grocery store.
Hotel stay? See if they have a microwave for the room. Frozen dinners may not be gourmet, but have certainly come a long way from the old TV dinner’s. You can buy steamable vegetables, rice, and even pasta these days. Grab a cooked rotisserie chicken from the store, and microwave your sides. RV camping?
Crockpot! Frozen meatballs (whether previously made at home or the store bought kind) can be tossed into a crockpot with some sauce in the morning. Head out for the day. Come back to the camper with a few rolls and some cheese and you’ve got yourself meatballs subs for dinner. Just on a day trip? Make sandwiches before you leave in the morning.
If you have to stop for food, or have decided that part of your trip will include going out for a meal, ask the locals where they go. They aren’t eating at the Four Season’s every night. When they go out to dinner they are going to find someplace with good food and an atmosphere they like – Just like we do when we go out to eat close to home. So ask!
Nature vs. Tourists
When you are just looking to get away for no other reason than to get away, consider finding something more nature driven than tourist driven. Once we really got started on checking states off of our list we made a rule that the state doesn’t count as completed until you have actually done something in that state. Driving through on an Interstate shouldn’t constitute as seeing the state.
We also decided that doing something in the state didn’t have to mean that we did something everyone else who had ever been there had done too. Just because NYC is the largest city in the United States doesn’t mean that is where you have to go to check the state of New York off of your map. A trip through the Catskills will bring you to quaint little towns that still have Main Street and only 1 blinking light directing traffic.
Length of your Get Away
Shortening how long your escape is can radically change the expense report… Just because your child has a 9 day Spring break, doesn’t mean you have to fly to a foreign country for 9 days. Instead take 9 separate day trips. Each day get up and go an hour in a different direction. Or go for 3 nights in the middle of their break to go on hiking trails and bike rides one state over.
Regardless of how tight your budget is, you can always find an Adventure!