The original article was published as part of a partnership with Wild Sky Media. The original can be found HERE.
Numbers do not lie: Before the pandemic, an astonishing 55% of Americans did not use up the vacation days allotted to them in a year. And today, with costs rising in every direction we turn, it’s possible some folks are questioning if they can afford to vacation at all.
Rather than forgoing an adventure altogether, we propose you plan a budget-minded trip. After all, you don’t have to spend a fortune to see or experience something new. With the following planning tools in your toolbox, you can reap the rewards of travel — making lifelong memories and new friends, for example — and keep some money in the bank.
Explore your geographic region.
Thanks to increasing flight costs, there’s never been a better time to explore a new-to-you destination in your state or region. This is the perfect time to visit some of the less well-known national parks, which offer amazing experiences without all the crowds. No matter where you are, a local, accessible gem awaits.
Prepare your own meals.
Dining in restaurants, especially if you’re traveling as a family or large group, can really run up the travel tab. An effective way to keep down costs while on the road is to eat out less; instead, pack favorite snacks and the ingredients needed for easy-to-make meals (think PB&J or turkey sandwiches, nuts and dried fruits). You can also consider toting along a couple of pots and a camping stove, which makes a hot meal possible just about anywhere.
Consider taking an RV.
More and more travelers are taking an RV to their chosen destinations. This transportation option has many benefits (learn more at Go RVing), including that an RV trip eliminates hotel costs and allows users to prepare every single meal with an in-RV kitchen or an outdoor kitchen setup where you’ve parked. It’s also important to note that state and local campground fees for RV parking are comparatively low, averaging about $45 per night.
Key in on national and state parks.
Spending time in nature is good for the soul, and it can be incredibly kind to your wallet too. The US is home to more than 400 national parks, most of which charge no entry fee (and even widely known parks that do require paid entry have designated fee-free days). If you’ve been thinking about going to a national park for years, check it off your list now and enjoy a budget-friendly adventure. The same goes for state parks: Many have no fee, and others charge just a nominal day-use fee.
Travel during destination off-seasons.
Summer travel is ideal, we know: The kids don’t have to miss school, the weather is predictable, and you can pack less gear thanks to the warm temperatures. But summer is also the high season for travel, and prices go high as well. If your schedule allows, look into your destination’s low season and visit then. You’ll enjoy a quieter, less-crowded version of the place, and it will be easier to stick to your budget.