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How to vacation on a shoestring budget!

Summer is here! Kids are out of school.  Everyone loves to get away from the day to
day drudgery and stress.  When we think
about getting away we usually think about the Caribbean, Europe
or someplace exotic.  Then we look at our
pockets and get “depressed”.  So what can
we do?  Is the “good life” only for the
rich and famous?  NO!  Not if you make a few modifications in your
mind, your pockets and your expectations.

            First let’s
look at the purpose of a vacation.  The #1
reason is to get away and relax.  #2 is having
fun with friends and family and #3 is exploring new adventures while expanding
your view of the world by seeing something new.  So why do we need to go far away?  Look in your own backyard!  Like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, “There’s no
place like home!”

Where ever you live there is something to see! I am in New York. I often speak
to a lot of New Yorkers who have not seen the many wonders of this city.  How about you? Every city has history, old
neighborhoods, all types of museums etc. State parks are a hidden treasure.
They have camping areas and some have free activities for kids and adults.  Tap into your local Department of
Tourism.  You’d be surprised at the gems
around you.    

            Here are
the top 3 ways to have a vacation on a modest budget.

  1. Plan
    for it!  Most banks and credit
    unions offer vacation clubs.  You
    can put a few dollars away each paycheck and get a lump sum in time to
    plan (and pay for) your vacation.
  2. Look
    for discounts! Many places offer discounts if you are traveling off
    season. Websites like offer comparisons of websites offering
    deals on hotel rooms, rental cars and packages. Check with your job. Many
    offer corporate discounts on car rentals, theme parks, city sites etc. Organizations
    like AAA and AARP offer discounts on the same even though you have to join
    and pay an annual fee.
  3. Drive!
    Save the cost of airline, train or bus tickets and put the money in your
    gas tank.  Especially if you are
    traveling with more than 2. If you do drive, a little preparation goes
    along way.
    1. Get
      your car checked by a mechanic. 
      Oil changes, wheel alignments, proper tire inflation etc will help
      in fuel efficiency and safety.
    2. Drive
      at a constant speed. Use your cruise control. Gas is wasted with Herky
      Jerky driving!
    3. Plan
      your route!  In the age of the GPS
      we tend to forget about maps. Carry one with you in the car.  I have been on the dirt road that leads
      to nowhere following my GPS.

These are just a few suggestions.  What were your best “bargain” vacations?  Share your thoughts. Enjoy the summer!