Have you been dreaming of a family vacation but worry that you can’t budget for travel right now? Or maybe you can’t stand the thought of spending a small fortune on one of those readymade vacation packages. Either way, you’re in luck. In this post, I share my five best tips for planning a memorable vacation on any budget.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Americans are wasting over $52 BILLION each year by not using all of their vacation time. There are many reasons people don’t take vacations. Some feel like they can’t take more than a day or two away from work because of their workload or responsibilities. Others feel like they have no room in their budget to travel. Or maybe it simply comes down to not having the time to plan your next trip.
While all of these reasons are valid, there are even better reasons to make that vacation happen. Vacations are a great opportunity to reset, find ourselves, and create peace and joy in our lives. These experiences improve our performance at work. And more importantly, they improve our marriages, families, and other relationships.
But what about the cost?
When we dream about vacation, it’s easy to fantasize about springtime in Paris, a hike to Machu Pichu, or a romantic getaway to the South Pacific. But in reality, we can experience the same benefits without traveling thousands of miles and spending a small fortune. Some of my most memorable adventures have been a short drive and just a few nights.
One of these memorable places is Lake Superior’s North Shore. Less than a three-hour drive from Minneapolis and you’re on scenic Highway 61 that covers 151 miles of natural perfection. This is an artist’s dream, with plenty of inspiration for writers, photographers, painters, and sculptors alike. Outdoor enthusiasts won’t be disappointed with ample opportunities for hiking, canoeing, fishing, cycling, camping, and rock-climbing.
Wherever you’re headed, there’s likely the option to travel as frugally or lavishly as you wish. You can pitch a tent and camp for less than $20 per night or enjoy fine dining and spa treatments at high-end resorts. Whichever you choose, there are many ways to make sure your trip is memorable. Here are five ways we keep it fresh whether we’re traveling close to home or exploring a new country.
FIVE WAYS TO CREATE MEMORABLE ADVENTURES ON ANY BUDGET
1 – STAY SOMEWHERE DIFFERENT
You know that gorgeous campsite with sweeping views of Lake Superior? And that perfect little hotel with miles of undeveloped coastline? It would be really easy to keep going back to those spots year after year. But new locations create excitement and anticipation. These new experiences expand your view of the world and encourage self-discovery.
Next time you’re planning a trip, challenge yourself to stay somewhere new. Try an Airbnb instead of a hotel. Check out the camper cabins in state parks and national forests. Or stay on a farm, in a treehouse, and don’t forget about hostels. There are so many excellent options and each is guaranteed to be an exciting new experience.
2 – TRY SOMETHING NEW
Most of the things I love doing today weren’t on my radar 20 years ago. The idea of sleeping in a tent in pouring rain sounded miserable. Paddling a canoe 20+ miles into the wilderness seemed terrifying and dangerous. And a 90-mile hike … was that even possible?
Little by little, we tried more new things. We invested time in the activities we loved and dropped the ones we didn’t. I’m grateful that I found the courage to step past my comfort zone and find new hobbies I’m deeply passionate about. You’ll never really know what you’ll like until you give it a try.
3 – GO EXPLORE
I know lots of families who take a vacation to the same resort every summer. I think that’s awesome and a wonderful way to connect and create memories.
If you’re one of these lucky people, you can still make each vacation a new adventure. I challenge you to do a little research and find new places you’ve never been to. I promise you they’re out there.
I traveled around the entire state of Minnesota the previous two summers visiting every state park. After I finished, I started noticing other amazing places I missed along the way. No matter where you’re going, I know you can find somewhere new to explore.
4 – MAKE THE BEST OF THE UNEXPECTED
Not everything goes as planned. Sometimes it rains the entire trip. We’ve had snow while camping in September. And then there was that time something (a fox, bear, or wolf) ate one of my shoes while camping in the middle of nowhere.
Don’t let these moments dampen your fun. If it won’t stop raining, go for a drive, pick up a new book, visit a museum, or cuddle up with some hot cocoa and listen to the rain. If you’re someone who likes to go, go, go, savor these opportunities to rest and restore.
5 – ENJOY LIFE’S SIMPLE PLEASURES
Some of the best things in life are the little things we often miss in our day to day lives. Get up early and watch the sunrise. Head to the beach and listen to the waves. Go for a hike and enjoy a picnic at the highest peak and soak in the view. Or take a moonlight swim in the warm summer air. Slow down and take pleasure in the little things we often miss.
You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world or spend your life savings to have an incredible vacation. Find the courage to leave your comfort zone and try something new. Whatever you do, use those vacation days and live your best life!
How do you ensure you use all of your vacation days? Comment below or come share your best tips on Facebook.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March of 2016. It has been completely revamped for accuracy, comprehensiveness, and readability. Please enjoy and feel free to share this newly revised content.