Vacations don’t have to be expensive

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Vacations can be expensive, but vacations can also be cheap.  I have a list of place I want to go to that I can’t afford yet, but I have the travel bug like so many others.

I live in the United States, which is an amazing place to live if you’re looking for quick, cheap and diverse destinations to visit.  If you’re on the east coast you have the Appalachian Trail, beaches, great US history destinations, rivers, forests, and cities to visit each weekend.  The Statue of Liberty in NY, the Liberty Bell in PA, a replica of the Mayflower in MA, Washington DC, Gettysburg VA, the Hunley in Charleston, SC… If you’re in the West, you have BLM land and National Parks that will make your jaw drop!

I made myself a promise a while back, that I would explore the US before I venture to the rest of the world.  I wanted to be able to talk about the awesomeness of the United States to anyone I met in the world, to tell them about amazing slot canyons in Utah, the beauty of the Appalachian Trail, Niagara Falls, the redwoods in Yosemite, the culture of New Orleans, and some of the extremely random places throughout the country.   Did you know there’s a little-Sweden in Kansas? or “The Danish capital of America” in California? CarHenge in Nebraska?  This country if so jam packed of incredible places to see, most people think they need to spend $1k on a flight to Europe to see things worth while.  There’s plenty of things within a weekend drive from where you live.

Why not explore your own country first, then when you visit other countries, you can talk about the amazing things we have here and give others suggestion on where to go when they come here.  I bet if you tell them about the hidden gems away from the tourists in your country, they’ll do the same for you in their country.

Oregon TrailI was craving an adventure and after a 5 minute discussion with a co-worker, we had made plans to go see Mount Rushmore.  My coworker and her husband borrowed a pop up camper from family and we left early on Saturday morning.  It’s about a 6 hour drive to get there and we came back by Sunday night.  That might sound like a quick trip, but when you’re with friends, the drive there and back is part of the enjoyment of the trip, it’s not always about just the destination.

For instance… who doesn’t want to stop on the side of the road in the middle of no where for a little Oregon Trail throwback?

I had a blast, got to be with friends, see a beautiful area and a National Monument, have a camp fire, and have a mini escape.

Here was the total cost breakdown:

Gas: $166
Camping: $20
Park Entrance Fee: $10
Food: $30
Firewood: $5
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Total: $231

Split that 3 ways and it was $77/each… add another $10 on personal spending of non-communal items and I easily spent under $90 for a weekend getaway.

There’s no reason you have to pay for expensive flights or hotel rooms. If you don’t like camping, then go spend the weekend in a nearby city at a friend’s you haven’t seen in a while.  Go pick a city you normally don’t get to and get a hotel room just outside the city in a suburb.  Rent a cabin somewhere… there are plenty of inexpensive ways to do things, especially with friends.  Not every vacation has to be an epic budget buster… and remember, the drive is part of the vacation, blast the music, tell stories, and don’t forget to stop at stuff that piques your interest or those signs that say: “Place of interest ahead” or “Scenic overlook”.

Enjoy the trip and be sure to share places you’ve gone, what you did, and how inexpensive you were able to do it in the comments below.  You’ll help other readers get ideas and maybe gain some of your own from their comments.

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