You work hard all year. So when summer rolls around (and you can hear crickets in the office every Friday afternoon), you deserve a vacation! Unfortunately, rising flight prices and the seemingly endless hidden travel fees (airlines really charge for a blanket now?) make planning a bugget-friendly trip a little tough. But it's not impossible! Travel Expert and Travel Channel TV Personality Sam Brown has traveled to dozens of countries and hundreds of cities without breaking the bank. We caught up with Brown to get her top tips on how to get away this summer without guilt!
Travel Within Your Own State
Your state’s local tourism website is a great place to get ideas for nearby vacation spots, many of which you’ve probably never thought about. Tourism websites often categorize ideas by theme—family fun, romantic adventures, sport adventures, etc.—making it easy for you to find a trip that suits your lifestyle and doesn’t require a pricey plane ticket. Plus, a lot of local businesses advertise on these sites, including hotels, restaurants, and more, so they’re great planning tools for tight budgets.
Be a ‘Contrarian’
Everybody wants to go to the beach during summer months. As a result beaches and hotels are not only packed, but they’re charging the highest prices. Think about where people don’t typically go—ski resorts, mountain resorts, etc. From New Hampshire to Utah to California, wherever there’s a mountain, wherever there’s a ski industry, those hotels offer their lowest prices during summer months.
Research Even the “Rich-Sounding” Places
One of my favorite vacation spots is Santa Barbara. It has a reputation as being very expensive, and yet I found it quite the opposite. You can find hotels in the downtown area that offer rooms for about $200 per night. You can spend your time hiking the mountains, paddle boarding (about $10/hour), or laying on the beautiful beach. It’s not always easy to find a reasonable airfare, but once you land in Santa Barbara, you can enjoy an excellent vacation without spending much money at all.
Don’t Think of Travel as a Luxury
Travel marks a fresh beginning. It’s a new start and something we all need, not a luxury.
Ditch Hotel Reservations
With more than 20,000 homes, condos, cabins, etc. that you can look into and rent, rental home websites like brbo.com and homeaway.com are a great resource! Unlike most hotels, staying in a home lets you prepare you own meals and save the money you’d normally spend eating out.
Bypass luggage fees by taking advantage of light, summer clothing. My main packing rule: All of my clothes have to get along, meaning everything has to match, whether it’s pants, shirts, skirts, or dresses so I can pair anything together. I use accessories to change the outfit, making it more upscale for a nice dinner or more casual if I’m just walking around. Belts and scarves are both suitcase essentials—there’s nothing like a scarf to make even a t-shirt acceptable at a nice restaurant.
Step Outside—Even If It’s Just for a Day
If you have a budget to think about—and who doesn’t?—look to your national parks. Many people only think of national parks when planning a big trip like going to the Grand Canyon, but it’s easy to take a road trip or even a day trip to a national park. With 394 options, one is closer than you think.
Visit preservetheparks.com to find out more about national parks near you. Admission is about the price of a movie ticket—or completely free!
Sam Brown is the National Parks Project Spokesperson and recently teamed up with Nature Valley to help preserve our nations parks. For more info, visit PreserveTheParks.com.