10 Frugal Vacation Ideas

It's good to have 10 frugal vacation ideas up your sleeve if you're like most people, and you have to consider your budget when planning trips.

  1. Take a staycation. The "staycation," or stay-at-home vacation, is a staple of any list of frugal vacation ideas. Does a staycation sound boring? You're probably thinking about it the wrong way. If you went on a traditional vacation, you'd spend at least a couple thousand dollars on hotels, rental cars, and airfare alone. Imagine all of the fun things you could do in your home town with even half of that money. You could rent a limo, eat at the most expensive restaurants, buy pricey mixed drinks, and have all your friends over for a huge blowout. Doesn't sound so bad now, does it?
  2. Do a house swap. If the frugal vacation idea of staying at home is simply too much for you, a cheap way to get out of town is to swap homes with someone. You'd be surprised to find out that people living in destinations you think of as fun and exotic want to get away just as much as you do. Use a site that specializes in house swaps, or simply ask around. Just make sure you make sure the opportunity is legit beforehand.
  3. Go last minute. This can be tricky if you need to plan ahead for vacation days. However, if you can wait to make your plans until the last minute, you can manage to score a great vacation package despite being frugal.
  4. Get back to nature. Camping can make for a really relaxing vacation. Cabins generally cost less than motels, and if you're on a super tight budget, tent camping is the most frugal vacation idea of all. You'll also save on food costs by building a campfire and roasting hot dogs.
  5. Choose the path less traveled. The more popular a destination, the more expensive it tends to be. It's true that vacation spots tend to be popular for a reason, but that doesn't mean you can't have a great, frugal vacation in a less well-known area. For example, instead of Florida, why not head to Alabama? Plan for a memorable vacation by finding a place off of the beaten path with quirky local attractions and a colorful culture.
  6. Hit the road. Renting an RV means that you get your hotel and your transportation as a package deal. You don't even need a fancy destination to have a frugal RV vacation. Simply point to a spot on the map and head out; you're sure to find fun and adventure.
  7. Go with a group. Going with a group is a good frugal vacation idea because pretty much any vacation is cheaper per person the more people you have. Get group rates at hotels, or even rent out a house. And traveling with friends can make your vacation even more memorable.
  8. Volunteer. If you're willing to do some work on your frugal vacation (and work could mean anything from walking dogs to planting corn) you can save money by volunteering your services in return for food, transportation, or lodging.
  9. Mooch off of friends or family. Chances are you know at least some people living in interesting locations who would be willing to put you up for a few days. This frugal vacation idea comes complete with built-in tour guides–your hosts! Just don't forget to offer a stay at your residence in return, or at least a nice dinner and a bottle of wine.
  10. Take advantage of loss leaders. Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and many cruises will offer ridiculously low rates on the basics because they know they'll make it up with extras such as gambling and alcohol. If you have good self control, you can take a frugal vacation by sticking to the things included in the price. Just make sure to read the fine print, or you might wind up paying more than you expect.
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