Summer Travel for Less

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Now that it’s officially June—three cheers for summer months—and the clouds have given way to some glorious sun (well, if you live elsewhere than the Bay Area, that is), let’s talk summer travel, shall we? It pains me when my friends and family say they don’t have the funds to travel, because, hey, guess what — jetsetting doesn’t have to break the bank. I know, I know, easy for me to say, right? I get paid to do this stuff. Still, I do plenty of globetrotting on my own dime, and what kind of intrepid nomad would I be if I hadn’t picked up some tips along the way (which I’ll so keenly share with you below if you so desire)? So I challenge you, good peoples of the Internets, to all to step away from the computer this summer (going cold turkey is the best way!) and inject a good dose of travel into your stationary lifestyles. Your blogs will be waiting when you return, I promise.1. Travel by train. With gas prices on the rise again, and the cost of plane tickets not any better, trade in your car for an old-fashioned trip on a locomotive. Take a long weekend journey through New England, along California’s southern coast, aboard Canada’s famed Rocky Mountaineer, or else hop the cross-country Amtrak that will transport you from one ocean to another in less than a week.

2. Embrace the Great Outdoors. You don’t have to go far to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether you live near the Rocky Mountains, in the Smokies, along the East Coast, or even close to the Great Plains, you can always find a patch of grass to call your own (S’mores and late-night gab sessions come with the territory). Sleeping on a hard, dirt-packed ground not your thing? No worries: Glamping – a glammed-up version of camping that offers a more luxurious night’s stay in a cabin, yet still out in the wild – is on the rise.

3. Travel close to home. It’s a common misconception that the most desirable locations are located halfway around the world. Not true. From Portland, Maine, to Austin, Texas, some cool and quirky spots can be found right at your doorstep and don’t require much advance planning– other than filling the tank with gas, booking a place to stay, and making a restaurant reservation or two.

4. Jet set midweek. If you’ve been receiving alerts from search engines and airfare trackers regarding flight deals that seem too good to be true, they a) probably are, or b) likely leave and/or return on Tuesday and Wednesday. Airfare prices for midweek travel are often reduced by a third or more (these are the prices airlines tend to advertise), so consider avoiding weekend travel and book flights that fall midweek instead.

5. Consider off-season destinations. Good news to all of those who like the heat: Sunny locales like Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean see the most visitors in the winter and early spring months (December through April), meaning prices are at their lowest during the summer. Just be sure and check the weather forecast in advance to make sure you’re not planning to hit up Haiti during hurricane season or Guatemala when mosquitoes cloak the country.

6. Couch Surf. If you’re outgoing and open to meeting new people, this non-profit organization that allows you to crash in other people’s homes is a fine way to make new friends during your globetrotting (and get a free place to stay while you mingle). Visit to create a free profile and browse others.

7. Take the Roads Less Traveled. That European rail tour isn’t looking so good with the daily weakening of the dollar, now is it? While a jaunt across the Atlantic could quickly empty your bank account, there are still destinations where the dollar goes far. Consider less-traveled spots like Honduras or Nicaragua that still provide a plethora of cultural offerings—and a killer tan.

8. Embark on a road trip. While the cost of fuel is nothing to scoff at, if you rope in a few gal pals to join you on your trek, taking a road trip can actually be an economical way to travel. Combine that with glamping or CouchSurfing, as mentioned above, and you’re practically traveling for free. Pack a cooler of refreshments and a trunk full of non-perishables, and you’ll further reduce expenses incurred.

9. Seek last minute vacations. Want a weekend away but failed to plan anything in advance? Not a problem. If your departure and arrival times and location are flexible, you’re the prime candidate for budget travel. Most airlines sell remaining seats a week or so in advance for a much reduced price. Check out or, which post weekend travel fares from one to 10 days beforehand, or else visit your preferred airline’s website to see what kind of last-minute deals you might find.

10. Extend a work trip; get there for free. Already heading to Los Angeles (or somewhere equally as vacation-worthy) for a midweek business meeting? Make the most of it: Ask ahead of time if your company would consider extending your ticket a few days for a much-needed break, provided you use vacation days and pay for any extra nights in the hotel.

Now what are you waiting for? Get to planning that much-needed vacay! Speaking of which…what are your summer travel plans? And do you have any money-saving tips I didn’t touch on above? If so, share them with the Internets, please!
  • June 1, 2008
    just me

    Couch surfing seems synonymous with bed bugs, to me…

  • June 1, 2008
    Heather B.

    A big huge fat thank you for posting this. Perfect post and perfect idea for what to write this week for BH. So thanks!

    (How much do I owe you 😉 )

  • June 2, 2008

    i normally have several plane tickets lined up at any one time. while i am super excited for my trip to NYC/Philly at the end of the month, i wish i had more travel on the horizon. fingers crossed, i might have some exciting travel news to announce in 2 weeks ala tip number 10. although it is a mighty big fingers crossed.

  • June 3, 2008

    Love the tips, what a great post.

  • June 3, 2008

    I am traveling to Atlanta this summer for an anniversary trip. I’ve always just driven through on my way to FL and never stopped to do the “tourist” things. We used Priceline to get our $189 a night hotel room for $55. We have also been able to get rental cars for under $10 through Priceline.

  • September 1, 2016

    As always, I love reading your posts. I think you have some of the best, comprehensive posts on a little of everything. This was exactly what I was looking for! Thanks so much for the tips, they are perfect for traveling light on the pockets!

  • February 9, 2017

    Taking the road less traveled is a nice decision. Considering off season vacations is also a nice route to finding a decent travel experience.

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