The summer is a great time of year to take leave from work, head out of town, and enjoy an opportunity to travel with your family. Of course, traveling can be expensive but luckily, there are plenty of budget-friendly ways to take a much needed break.

Exercising your imagination and finding local, inexpensive ways to vacation on a budget will allow you to escape from your day-to-day routine while remaining within your budget. Here are some ideas.

Be a Tourist in Your Own City

So many of us forget the amenities we have access to right at our fingertips. We often visit our local attractions once or twice on a school field trip and then never return. Take the summer as an opportunity to revisit the popular sites in your city that you haven’t seen in a while.

Change your view of where you live to that of a tourist. Think about what you would do if you had never been to your city before, and then go and do those things. Pack a picnic lunch and spend a summer day exploring the sights and sounds of your hometown.

Skip the Highly Sought After Destinations

If you’re eager to take a trip outside of your local stomping grounds, think outside of the box. It’s easy to want to follow the norm and take a trip to the beach in the summer. What if, instead, you took a trip to the mountains and went hiking at the ski resort you visited in the winter?

Avoiding common tourist traps will also enable you to avoid the inevitable price jump that comes with the summertime. By visiting the less traveled destinations you will be able to avoid paying tourist prices. You may even be able to tap into some special price offerings that encourage people to visit.

Take a Trip to the Closest Town

It’s likely that you live within a 3-hour radius of a town that experiences high travel volume. A city with close proximity makes it possible for you to plan a day trip or overnight to indulge in the feel of a vacation without the price. Much like the opportunity to be a tourist in your own town, you can revisit some sites you’ve seen in the past.

You can pack a picnic lunch and a change of clothes so that you can inexpensively enjoy the sights during the day and later indulge in the nightlife of the town. You can choose a city you’ve never been to that’s close to yours and try their local cuisine. However you decide to approach it, you have the ability to stay close to home while still experiencing something new.

Visit National Parks

Visiting a national park is the best and most inexpensive way to see something new without breaking the bank. They offer hiking, natural springs, caves, ancient structures, and more. You can opt into guided tours or do your research and create your own nature adventure.

By only spending money on gas, you can visit your local national park and have a phenomenal time without the extra costs.

Find Last-Minute Vacation Deals

Travel sites are abundant and you should capitalize on the convenience they provide for vacation planning. Expedia, Travelocity, and Last Minute Travel all allow you to opt in to their travel alerts. These alerts can help you monitor price fluctuations on hotel and flight prices. They may also offer sales that allow you to visit at a fraction of the cost without sacrificing the experience.

A word of caution: make sure you’re familiar with the area in which you’re offered a deal. Sometimes the “deal” that you’re given isn’t enough of a discount to warrant an immediate purchase. Instead of being open to anything, highlight a few destinations of interest and limit alerts to these areas. This way, you will have a general knowledge of the pricing of the area of interest and you’ll avoid the pressure to purchase a deal that isn’t a deal at all.

Search for House Sitting Opportunities

Sometimes all you need is a little change of scenery. House sitting is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. You’re able to change your environment while also earning some money to put toward a bigger vacation.

Market your services to your friends and family. Social media, Craigslist, and your community center’s “help wanted” board are also great places to find people who are looking for house sitting or for you to offer your willingness to assist.

Make sure you’re playing it safe, though. Be alert to situations or people who may compromise your safety. It’s always wise to make sure you complete an initial meeting to discuss the parameters of the opportunity. Bring along a close friend to the meeting. They may be in tune to warning signs of compromising situations that you’re missing.

Visit Friends or Family for Cheap

Part of the value in a vacation is spending time with people you love and care about. If you’re looking for a getaway, consider visiting your out-of-town family or friends. Plan a long weekend and let them give you a tour of the town they live in.

Do some research and ask to house sit when they’re out of town so you have accommodations for free and a place to cook your meals. Whatever your approach, friends and family are excellent resources for an out-of-town trip option that enables you to stay within your means.

Go Camping

Camping is a great way to vacation if you already have the proper equipment. If you don’t have camping gear you can save up for the essentials. Buying your own gear will enable you to travel on a regular basis without always spending money.

Often outdoor stores or university campus recreation departments will offer camping gear to rent. This is a good way for you to try camping without making the initial investment. After you’ve experienced it you may find that you want to save up and buy your own gear. Either way you’ve experienced something new without becoming broke in the process.

Try a Staycation

Somewhat related to becoming a tourist in your own town, you can indulge in a staycation. If you have vacation time but no extra funds to leave your area, you can always take off of work and plan a relaxing staycation.

Look into activities you enjoy that you aren’t able to experience when you’re at work. For example, take a yoga class during your normal working hours. Or, perhaps, splurge on a day of relaxation at the spa with a massage or a pedicure.

At the end of the day, you’ll be able to relax in the comforts of your own bed. A staycation may be just what you need to rejuvenate before you return to work.

The Bottom Line

There are plenty of budget-friendly vacation alternatives to help you keep more cash in your wallet. Be creative and look for opportunities that exist close to home. You’re bound to find at least one way to engage in a much needed summer break without breaking the bank.

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