A vacation is a beautiful thing, capable of recharging us fully when the day-to-day grind has slowly sapped our energy over time. Often the prospect of taking time off to go relax somewhere exotic is all that keeps us going through a particular rough patch, and that makes sense — we need a little variety here and there. Our brains are programmed to think that a vacation has to be all soft beaches and sunny weather, though, which isn't always the most affordable option.
Since that's the "dream" vacation, an entire industry has arisen out of the idea of selling the perfect tropical escape. As with anything in sales, the most expensive option is the proven one everybody wants. But in addition to high price, springing for a beach vacation upsold by some travel agency can result in huge crowds and high stress, thus making time that's supposed to be relaxing somehow even more overwhelming than normal life.
That's why getting creative with your vacations can not only help you save money when on a budget, but be much more likely to result in the real relaxation you crave paired with a truly unique experience. So if money's tight, go outside the box with your vacations with these six cheap vacation ideas:
When the weather is nice, few things can be quieter and more relaxing than camping away from the rush of city life. Renting a campsite is also dramatically cheaper than even low-end hotels and motels, so in addition to mixing up your vacation with a little nature, you're not spending a ton of money to do it.
2. Last-minute cruise
Cruises can be pretty dressed up tropical vacations that aren't all that cheap, but if you have the flexibility to spring for a lucrative last-minute deal, you could score big time.
3. Road trip
Flights are often the most expensive part of any trip. If you've got the time and gas prices aren't too bad, try driving somewhere domestic. In addition to the savings, you'll encounter all kinds of unique things only seen on the road.
4. Go off the beaten path
If you still want to stick to flying but not flock to where everyone else is going, you'll undoubtedly encounter some deals. As a bonus, you'll be able to tell everyone how awesome your vacation was without their eyes totally glazing over due to it being the thousandth time they've heard about that trip.
5. Be a local tourist
Spending every day exactly the same in a constant cycle between work and home means there are all kinds of places in our hometowns we've probably never set foot in. Time off is about relaxation, not necessarily going somewhere far away — try using it to explore your surroundings with a perspective you've never had before.