It’s summer break. That means some people are heading out elaborate beach vacations, cruises, Disney trips or huge adventures. But what do you do when you have just a few days and not a lot of money. How about a frugal mini vacation? Our family has been known to hit the road one morning and pack in a ton of memories in a very short amount of time. So whether you have procrastinated because you didn’t feel like planning a major vacation or just don’t have a lot of time to do a big trip, here are 5 tips for planning an amazing frugal mini vacation.
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5 Tips for a Frugal Mini Vacation
Look at the Map differently
Get out a real paper map or pull up a map online. Pick a city that you have never visited and see how far it is. Have you been to Indianapolis lately? When is the last time you took a road trip to Nashville? Chattanooga? Chicago? Consider that you can leave your house in the morning super early and be in a brand new city in time for a late lunch.
Look for Free Stuff
Most historical sites and state parks are either free to the public or have a minimal entrance fee per car. Maybe you can hike to a waterfall you’ve never seen or visit the home of a president. A vacation is not about spending hundreds of dollars at an amusement park or touring the latest greatest attraction. It’s about making memories and doing something out of the ordinary routine. You can do an internet search for free things to do in the area you are visiting and will probably find some options. Don’t be afraid to step outside your normal activities. Look for a ferry boat, historical fort or national figure’s birthplace.
Don’t feel like you need to buy a souvenir at every place you visit. Consider just taking extra pictures that you can print out and turn into photo magnets when you get home.
Get Discounts on Hotels
Stop at the Welcome Center when you cross into a new state so you can pick up the hotel coupon books. If you are traveling on a weekday, you will often find discounts at many national chain hotels. Look for one that has a free complimentary breakfast so you will save on that meal as well. You can find some of those same deals online.
If you really want to save money, then think about where your extended family lives. Are they several hours away? Could you crash on their couch or use their guest room after exploring a new area?
On one mini vacation last year, we knew we were going to go to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, but weren’t sure where we wanted to go after that. We had a general idea but didn’t want to tie ourselves down. We saw a sign that told us we were only a few hours from Lake Michigan so we just took a detour and drove up to Indiana Dunes State Park. It was unexpected, unplanned and absolutely worth every minute of the extra drive.
Don’t limit yourself to the known destinations. Sometimes you have to be willing to explore. Follow a brown road sign off the interstate and check out something new. You just might find something amazing.
Some times the cheapest thing to eat on a road trip is the snack bars and chips. But don’t fuel your body on junk the whole time. There are times when you just have to pay the price for a real meal when you are out on the road. Eat breakfast at your hotel, snack through one meal but plan to eat out at least once
Since lunch menus are typically cheaper, then you could eat a big lunch and then eat something smaller for supper.
When is the last time you took a mini vacation? Got any stories to share? I’d love to hear!