Author Topic: Cheap Vacation Ideas?  (Read 7518 times)

oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3114
Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« on: August 24, 2013, 07:25:21 AM »
We had a fabulous summer with some fun and interesting vacations. This year, I want to spend even less. Here are some details:

--We've seen bears before and do not want to see more.
--We're not fond of camping, but we could probably combine partial camping with something else.
--We like to vacation near National Parks with ranger programs and interesting history.
--We're in the eastern US.
--A staycation is definitely on my list. We've never done that before, and we live right outside DC.

I'd love your thoughts and ideas! I'm working on budgeting for next summer.



MeForNow

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 17
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2013, 09:49:12 AM »
Ideas:

Stay at youth hostels or airbnb. This could be somewhere a day's drive away, or perhaps for a night or two in DC during staycation?  BTW youth hostels can sometimes be fun places to talk to people. I looked at one DC hostel that has some programs like walks or movies?

Camp in your back yard, if you have back yard. Definitely no bears. I know you just said you don't like camping but I don't know which aspects you don't like. Maybe sleeping outside would be fun? You can also sleep in a frend's backyard.....

Look for some novelty.......something a little outside your usual zone..... Visit different neighborhoods, visit some gay bars..... Are there lectures or activities at the college or public library......

Find out when the museums have a free day......

Go to the beach.....

Since you like outdoor programs and interesting history, of course you can look for that locally....

oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3114
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2013, 03:22:19 PM »
Thanks. Those are great ideas.

crazy jane

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 226
  • Location: Northbrook, Illinois
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2013, 04:06:37 PM »
One of my teaching colleagues spent 40 days in a row going to a different park every day this summer with his kids. I think that is really badass.

Another idea would be to spend the vacation volunteering locally.

Frugal_in_DC

  • Guest
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2013, 04:51:37 PM »
We're outside DC too and did staycations last summer and this summer.  We enjoyed both and wondered why we hadn't done it before.  Google "DC off the beaten path" to get ideas of places that aren't packed with tourists.  Some ideas off the top of my head:

- You can spend a day checking out the Botanical Garden, National Museum of the American Indian, the Capitol Visitor Center, Library of Congress Jefferson Building, and walking around Capitol Hill.  And it's all free!

- Another nice day trip is a walk around Old Town Alexandria (there's a free trolley to the waterfront from King St. Metro), cool off at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, take a water taxi to the National Harbor, cool off inside the Gaylord, and take the boat back to Alexandria.  Just stay away from all the stores.

- You can hike or bike along the C & O canal and go to Glen Echo Park.

- The book Capital Splendor, by Barbara Glickman, features over 30 local gardens and parks.

- For day and overnight trips there's Shenandoah National Park, Great Falls, Harpers Ferry, St Michaels and Annapolis, and Chincoteague.  If you go to Shenandoah there's a nice little alpaca farm in Marshall VA and several wineries along the way.

BZB

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 281
  • Location: Houston, Texas
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2013, 06:40:59 PM »
Are there any quirky guided tours you could take either in DC or in the neighborhoods nearby? (For example Houston has walking tours of the "haunted" places downtown, and a tour of the underground tunnel system. I'm sure DC area has tons more options like that.

oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3114
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2013, 07:39:40 PM »
Are there any quirky guided tours you could take either in DC or in the neighborhoods nearby? (For example Houston has walking tours of the "haunted" places downtown, and a tour of the underground tunnel system. I'm sure DC area has tons more options like that.

Thanks!

oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3114
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2013, 07:40:59 PM »
We're outside DC too and did staycations last summer and this summer.  We enjoyed both and wondered why we hadn't done it before.  Google "DC off the beaten path" to get ideas of places that aren't packed with tourists.  Some ideas off the top of my head:

- You can spend a day checking out the Botanical Garden, National Museum of the American Indian, the Capitol Visitor Center, Library of Congress Jefferson Building, and walking around Capitol Hill.  And it's all free!

- Another nice day trip is a walk around Old Town Alexandria (there's a free trolley to the waterfront from King St. Metro), cool off at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, take a water taxi to the National Harbor, cool off inside the Gaylord, and take the boat back to Alexandria.  Just stay away from all the stores.

I have not  been to a few of the places above, so I have a lot to think about here. I love the idea of biking on the C&O. We could take a picnic. I've not been biking there in ages.

mc6

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 242
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2013, 08:16:52 PM »
If you tire of the usual DC sites, try Baltimore if you haven't already.  It has a big cool art gallery, cool neighborhoods, cool architecture,  a cool aquarium, etc. which could be done on the cheap with planning.

sassy1234

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 93
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2013, 08:37:25 AM »
I like to combine a few days of backpacking (very cheap), with a few days of staying at a nice hotel.  Once you are at the hotel, everything becomes nicer since you have been roughing it.  Also, renting a cabin or beach vacation home with a large group of friends is very inexpensive as well. 

Miss Stachio

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 79
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2013, 10:46:41 AM »
I was eating my lunch on the National Mall last week when a lady from the Netherlands who was on vacation in DC started talking to me about how it was the most beautiful city out of all the cities she's visited, how it's so friendly and green, and how she wants to move to live in DC.  So a staycation is definitely a good idea.

Since DC is a vacation destination for all sorts of people, you could consider arranging a house swap with someone who lives in a city you'd like to visit.

There's also so many free events going on in DC all the time.  This site is a good start: freeindc.blogspot.com/‎

Katnina

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 163
  • Age: 38
  • Location: NYC
  • 33 & happily retired!
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2013, 11:07:19 AM »
A lot of museums in NYC have free entry times- I'm sure a lot of the ones in DC that aren't free 100% of the time do too!
Also: picnics are a great staycation treat.  Either make everything from scratch or pickup a baguette and hummus/cheese/olives/tomatoes at the grocery store and call it good. 
Are there rowboats or canoeing that you can do fairly cheaply nearby?  That always feels vacationy to me.
rowboats in Central Park in NYC are $12 for the hour-and sooooo worth it.  And they have free kayaking lessons on the Hudson river on the weekends here- there must be stuff like that in DC/Baltimore too!

oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3114
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2013, 01:05:38 PM »
A lot of museums in NYC have free entry times- I'm sure a lot of the ones in DC that aren't free 100% of the time do too!
Also: picnics are a great staycation treat.  Either make everything from scratch or pickup a baguette and hummus/cheese/olives/tomatoes at the grocery store and call it good. 
Are there rowboats or canoeing that you can do fairly cheaply nearby?  That always feels vacationy to me.
rowboats in Central Park in NYC are $12 for the hour-and sooooo worth it.  And they have free kayaking lessons on the Hudson river on the weekends here- there must be stuff like that in DC/Baltimore too!

Kayaking on the Hudson sounds divine!!

I have so many good ideas thanks to you guys! A lot of these I had not yet found on my own, which just adds to fun.

JoshuaSpodek

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 275
  • Location: Manhattan
    • Leadership, values, meaning, purpose, importance, passion
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2013, 09:19:51 AM »
Vipassana Meditation has only a suggested donation so you could do a ten-day meditation retreat for only the cost to get there, including food, lodging, and everything. I've always given money, but they have absolutely no problem with you not paying anything. I go to the one in Massachusetts, but there's one in Maryland too.

It's challenging and not what most people would think of as a vacation, but you'll learn more about yourself than nearly anything else you could do. You'll learn a new (free) skill that will improve your life.

Check out their site: http://www.dhamma.org.

I wrote a bit about it on my blog too: http://joshuaspodek.com/vipassana-meditation
« Last Edit: August 29, 2013, 09:22:33 AM by JoshuaSpodek »

swick

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2884
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2013, 12:45:09 PM »
Also look into couch surfing! You can couch surf in your own town or a nearby one - or across the world. It is a great way to meet new people (I have many life long friends because I have slept on their couch or opened my home) and experience life as a local.

Also many bigger cities have their own Couch surfing groups that have meet-ups or social events if you don't want to commit to staying in someone's house.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6519
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2013, 08:25:51 PM »
Definitely the museums. I used to live in the DC area and I loved that most of the good ones were free.

Bike down to ... Mount Vernon? (I think that was it.)

Go visit Annapolis (hey, I was in the Navy)
Go visit Baltimore.
Skyline Drive?

Sorry, I've been gone a long time.  My memory...fading.

I like camping, but we tend to camp about 2-3 days and then hotel it for 2-3 days.

Also, go to some sites for your city (DC).  I plan on staycationing our next view vacations.  Because, well, I live in Santa Barbara, and it sucks traveling with a toddler.  So.  What do people do here?

I wrote down what I see people doing here, wrote down what I like to do in Hawaii.  Example: beach, biking, wine tasting.  Go to a resort with a pool.  Not sure how I'll manage this, but I wonder if there might be a local's special somewhere.

MakingSenseofCents

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 264
  • Age: 30
  • Location: RVer
    • Making Sense of Cents
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2013, 10:39:30 PM »
Since you don't want to camp, I would definitely try to score the best deals on hotel rooms. Lately, we have had really good luck with getting great deals on rooms. I like to use Airbnb, and you can easily find rooms in a great location for very cheap. Also, we have also had good luck with emailing management directly at hotels (usually their contact info is listed directly on hotel websites) and asking for what their lowest prices are.

oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3114
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2013, 06:10:44 AM »
Vipassana Meditation has only a suggested donation so you could do a ten-day meditation retreat for only the cost to get there, including food, lodging, and everything. I've always given money, but they have absolutely no problem with you not paying anything. I go to the one in Massachusetts, but there's one in Maryland too.

It's challenging and not what most people would think of as a vacation, but you'll learn more about yourself than nearly anything else you could do. You'll learn a new (free) skill that will improve your life.

Check out their site: http://www.dhamma.org.

I wrote a bit about it on my blog too: http://joshuaspodek.com/vipassana-meditation

I like this idea. I could use a meditation retreat.

oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3114
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2013, 06:11:48 AM »
Since you don't want to camp, I would definitely try to score the best deals on hotel rooms. Lately, we have had really good luck with getting great deals on rooms. I like to use Airbnb, and you can easily find rooms in a great location for very cheap. Also, we have also had good luck with emailing management directly at hotels (usually their contact info is listed directly on hotel websites) and asking for what their lowest prices are.

I had never thought about contacting the management of a hotel before. I might use that for an upcoming trip.

oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3114
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2013, 06:13:27 AM »
Definitely the museums. I used to live in the DC area and I loved that most of the good ones were free.

Bike down to ... Mount Vernon? (I think that was it.)

Go visit Annapolis (hey, I was in the Navy)
Go visit Baltimore.
Skyline Drive?

Sorry, I've been gone a long time.  My memory...fading.

I like camping, but we tend to camp about 2-3 days and then hotel it for 2-3 days.

Also, go to some sites for your city (DC).  I plan on staycationing our next view vacations.  Because, well, I live in Santa Barbara, and it sucks traveling with a toddler.  So.  What do people do here?

I wrote down what I see people doing here, wrote down what I like to do in Hawaii.  Example: beach, biking, wine tasting.  Go to a resort with a pool.  Not sure how I'll manage this, but I wonder if there might be a local's special somewhere.

If we did decide to camp, the 2-3 days camping and 2-3 days in a hotel would be perfect. We've done that before, except with really nice hotels vs not-that-nice.

lifejoy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3961
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Canada, eh
  • Lovin' the Mustachian life!
    • Not Buying This
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2013, 05:59:26 PM »
One of the best vacations I've been on was a staycation. My bf and I really enjoyed the lack of stress and near-zero travel time!!

What we did:

-stayed at an adorable bed and breakfast on the outskirts of the city
-went to restaurants we had never been to before, to make it all seem foreign
-ordered drinks (1 each) at the fairmont hotel, because the drinks are divine and they came with epic snacks!
-went to an indie concert in an old warehouse
-art galleries
-lots of eating
-made zero visits to our home until the "trip" was over

SO FUN!! (Says the girl who really doesn't like travelling... Heh)

oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3114
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #21 on: September 07, 2013, 04:35:05 PM »
One of the best vacations I've been on was a staycation. My bf and I really enjoyed the lack of stress and near-zero travel time!!

What we did:

-stayed at an adorable bed and breakfast on the outskirts of the city
-went to restaurants we had never been to before, to make it all seem foreign
-ordered drinks (1 each) at the fairmont hotel, because the drinks are divine and they came with epic snacks!
-went to an indie concert in an old warehouse
-art galleries
-lots of eating
-made zero visits to our home until the "trip" was over

SO FUN!! (Says the girl who really doesn't like travelling... Heh)

That sounds like fun! I never thought of staying at a hotel or B&B in my own town before. I had just thought about doing touristy things I would not normally do. Great idea!


mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6519
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #22 on: September 07, 2013, 06:43:43 PM »
One of the best vacations I've been on was a staycation. My bf and I really enjoyed the lack of stress and near-zero travel time!!

What we did:

-stayed at an adorable bed and breakfast on the outskirts of the city
-went to restaurants we had never been to before, to make it all seem foreign
-ordered drinks (1 each) at the fairmont hotel, because the drinks are divine and they came with epic snacks!
-went to an indie concert in an old warehouse
-art galleries
-lots of eating
-made zero visits to our home until the "trip" was over

SO FUN!! (Says the girl who really doesn't like travelling... Heh)

This sounds so nice!  I know that the hotel my stepfather stayed at while he visited has a "local's special".  It's not a fancy hotel, but it does have two pools, so - that's a thought.  There is a really nice resort (The Bacara) nearby, and a bunch of my friends seem to post pictures in/by the pool there - so there has GOT to be a local's deal of some type.  I know that they have wine tasting too.

Irishmam

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 58
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #23 on: September 07, 2013, 07:57:35 PM »
A couple of weeks before you go, sign up for groupon / daily deals at your chosen vacation spot and hopefully you will snag some cheap meals / deals.

smedleyb

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 434
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #24 on: September 09, 2013, 04:51:28 PM »
Sign up for travel reward credit cards, hit spending requirements for large point bonuses, put card in drawer and cancel after 11 months before yearly fee becomes due.  Wash, rinse, repeat, and travel in style to exotic locations for pennies on the dollar.   

michaelrecycles

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 184
  • Location: Monterey Bay
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #25 on: September 09, 2013, 06:45:42 PM »
Hop around on Megabus. The Megabus network is a bit limited on the West Coast, but it seems like you can get around pretty much anywhere on the East Coast and Mid-West.

When you arrive, couch surf or go AirBnB. Or stay with friendly Mustachians?

RootofGood

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1361
  • Age: 39
  • Location: North Carolina
  • Retired at age 33. 5 years in, still loving it!
    • Root of Good
Re: Cheap Vacation Ideas?
« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2013, 08:07:01 AM »
I see others mentioned house swapping/house sitting.  I've never done it but heard positive things as long as you are flexible.  Some even make it a routine part of their vacationing and stay in some pretty decent places for free. 

Staycations are cool too.  Catch up on some reading, explore local sites of interest, hit up some Smithsonian museums you haven't been to.  Take a day trip somewhere.  You're in a great geographic location to do awesome day trips. 

+1 on the Groupon/livingsocial thing if you are vacationing in another city and want or need to dine out.  We used restaurant.com coupons on our last vacation to Chicago and spent ~$15-22 at each lunch or dinner meal to feed a family of 4.  Decent restaurants too.  Also used livingsocial as they posted an awesome deal on our last day at a place right next to our hotel. 

Check out credit card cash back bonuses for signing up for new cards.  Free flights and hotel stays can be had this way. 

I'll throw cruises out there as an option.  But not generally for summer.  We love going on cruises as they are usually pretty relaxing (your hotel floats with you everywhere).  Off season rates in Nov-Dec-Jan-Feb are dirt cheap and you can often score a week long cruise for $350-ish per person (but you may have to drive/fly to Florida).  We have kids and they love the cruises.  When you add the cost of hotels, meals, and local transportation for a land based vacation, cruises often become competitively priced (if you find a sweet deal in the low season).