Summer vacation ideas are fun to think about, and planning some time away from work is important. But the costs of travel can be intimidating, and might prevent you from taking the restorative vacation you need.

The good news is, there are a lot of great vacation options that can help you keep costs down without compromising on the fun and relaxing experience you’re looking for. Here are a few of our favorite ideas for affordable vacations.

Visit friends or family

Do you have any friends or family you enjoy spending time with? Do they live in an area you like to visit? Planning a trip to see them—if you can stay with them—can be a great way to make your vacation more affordable by cutting out the cost of a hotel.

If you need to fly to get there, it’s helpful to start watching airfare as far in advance as possible. Sites like Kayak let you set an alert, so that you can track fare drops and increases for the route you’re interested in. They’ll also advise you when to buy based on price trends, letting you know that your fare isn’t likely to get any lower before your trip.

House swap

Do you have any friends or family who live in a place you’d like to visit? A house swap can be a creative way for both of you to visit a new place without having to pay for lodging. 

Another way to do this is by using a site like ThirdHome or HomeExchange, where you can find other people who have homes they might be willing to let you stay in while they stay in yours. Those types of marketplaces usually have a vetting process and other protections, so it can be worth the small fee they charge to connect you with other home swappers.

Take the train or a bus

Is there somewhere you’d like to go that you can reach by train, or maybe a long-distance bus line like Greyhound? Traveling by train or bus can be a way to get to your destination more affordably than flying, and saves you the effort of driving (and the cost of gas, which can add up quickly).

In a lot of areas, a train route can be part of your vacation sightseeing and economical form of transportation!

Camping

Camping can be one of the most restorative trips you can plan—it often forces you to disengage from all of your electronic devices, get some exercise, and focus on the beauty of nature.

Campgrounds are usually very economical, and while camping does require things like a tent and sleeping bags, it’s usually easy to borrow gear from friends or even rent it inexpensively from sporting goods stores. If you plan to go camping frequently, check craigslist—it’s often easy to find camping gear that’s only been used once or twice (or not at all) at a good discount.

Staycation

Be a tourist in your own city! It’s a great way to avoid the stress of having to pack, drive long distances, or deal with flight delays and cancellations. It can also be surprisingly fun, because most of us have never explored the area we live in from a visitor’s perspective.

Think of what you’d do if someone were coming to visit you from out of the area—what attractions would you take them to? It can be helpful to do an internet search using the name of your city and ‘visitor’s guide’ or ‘things to do’ to find ideas. (You’d be surprised how many interesting things there are to do and see that you don’t even know about!)

Affordable activities

Once you get to your vacation destination, there are ways to save while still having fun and seeing everything the area has to offer.

  • National parks: most parks are free to visit. pack lunches and snacks (and water) to keep your costs down, and enjoy a day of exploring nature.
  • Local parks or beaches: these are also free to visit, and you and your family can do things like play on playgrounds, swim, paddleboat, or just relax.
  • Museums: a lot of museums offer child discounts, and many have a free day each week—so it’s worth doing a little research before your trip!
  • Geocaching: this is sort of like a scavenger hunt/treasure hunt. It’s great fun for the whole family, and it’s an ideal way to explore a new city. All you need to get started is a free app, and you can find options and information at geocaching.com.
  • Letterboxing: Similar to geocaching, with letterboxing you also use an app to follow clues and find hidden ‘treasures’. Each time you find one, you can add a stamp (passport-style) to your personal logbook and also leave your own stamp on the letterbox’s log book. It adds some memorable adventuring to your sightseeing.

Need some cash for your trip?

If you need a little extra money for your trip, Brigit’s Instant Cash is an easy way to get a cash advance of up to $250* ahead of your next payday.

It takes just minutes to get set up and get your cash, with no credit check, interest, or late fees. You can get started with Instant Cash today, by downloading the Brigit app. Once you repay an advance, you can request another one—so you always have a safety net for life’s unexpected expenses.


*Subject to Brigit’s approval and policies. Not all members are approved for advances and the amount varies per customer. Advances range from $50 – $250. Log into the Brigit app to learn more. No credit checks or interest, ever. Additional fees may apply for instant delivery of funds.