Tuesday, August 16, 2011

tips for traveling on a budget

there's no doubt that robert and i love our small town life. we love its quiet pace, little diners, and kind farmers. but as the leaves start to change around the dirt roads near our home, we grow antsy, and the adventurers in us start waking up from their summer slumber. and we want to travel. before we have children (and especially after that, but it will be different), we want to go and do. as much as possible.

but the thing is, traveling takes money. and those aren't dollar bills falling from the autumn sky.

so we've spent years perfecting the art of traveling on a dime. and we still haven't got it all figured out yet. but we've been able to see lots of our  beautiful land without breaking the bank, and for that i am thankful.

sure the eiffel tower looks splendid, and who wouldn't want to go sailing on the white cliffs of dover and visit venice and go to a street market in mexico? but international travel can easily (though not always) cost more than domestic. what about the grand canyon, or mt. rushmore? the sandy shores of california or the islands of new england? the united states has an endless array of things to do and see. of course, for international readers, this applies to your country as well. it's a matter of seeing your home through new eyes.

you've got to be safe, folks, and sanitary. that much is certain. and i'm not suggesting stay in every motel 6 you can (if any). but there are some downright charming mom and pop motels along the way to most any destination. robert and i are staying in cabooses, actual train cabooses, on our new england trip through pennsylvania dutch country. these places are usually a bit cheesy, quite kitschy and altogether fun. they are also about $50 less than a chain hotel.

everywhere we travel, we ask the locals where they like to eat. chances are, they won't point us in the direction of the most expensive steakhouse in town. usually, they lead to little roadside diners with divine sweet tea and sweet waitresses with accents dripping like slow honey. they lead to places that have country fried chicken specials and perfect barbecue sauce. this year, robert and i have based our new england trip around places featured on the food network, most of them from diners, drive-ins and dives. go here for the reference Web site.

make a loop. it can cost double, if not more, to rent a car, drive somewhere, and drop the car off at a different location. robert and i found that out when we drove from seattle to los angeles last year. if you're on a road trip or renting a car for any reason, try to circle around and end where you began. it will save hundreds. if looping isn't an option, try contacting the rental car agency to see if they have any cars that need to be taken to your end destination. they are sometimes willing to work out a deal.

don't be afraid to travel to the beat of a different drum. one of my favorite travel sites is roadside america, which lists all the random, fun attractions such as the world's largest (fill in the blank). sure, it's important to hit the major tourist spots. a trip to hollywood isn't complete with a walk down the boulevard or a visit to the sign, but what about visiting marilyn's grave? or visiting randy's doughnuts just to see the huge pastry on top? these are the sweet little moments of spontaneity that make a trip worthwhile.

whether you like to travel on a budget or splurge (because after all, what's a vacation if not a splurge), the important thing is to go. just go. go and do and see and explore and taste and smell and get lost and laugh. even if it's just camping in your backyard or going to a hotel in the heart of the city. a little time away is good for the soul, i say. and while you're out, take pictures, won't you?

20 comments:

jeanette from everton terrace said...

I've had the wanderlust bug all my life and while I've been lucky enough to see many other countries, I still love seeing all our vast country has to offer. There are still lots of places in my own state for me to visit. Love locally owned places, the food is always better. I'm sort of an anti-chain gal. That caboose sounds super fun!

Paula said...

Love this post, your photos and travel tips. Eating where the locals ate and doing the loop re: rental car hire definitely enhanced our already fantastic New Zealand trip. Happy travels gorgeous people x

Ana Magdalena said...

great tips, i need to bookmark this post ;)

yours truly, melissa said...

Great post (& blog for that matter!) I love, love, love to travel & agree with you - our country has so many wonderful places that I want to see.

Stephanie Shepherd said...

These are really good tips and you're right, spontaneity does make for great vacation memories. We like to have a general idea what we're doing and where we're going, but we do enjoy going off path a bit.

Claire said...

I'm from the UK and feel slightly ashamed of how little I have seen of my own country. It's definately worth looking at your home as a holiday destination. I'm sure there are loads of places around me that tourists would love to go but I've never made it.

Liz Taylor Training said...

I think a lot of people spend a ton of money while dining out on vacation and eating where the locals do, asking questions, etc. is def. a great way to help. Awesome tips!

Thisisme. said...

That's a great post, especially for these times, when most people are having to work to a budget. I certainly agree with eating where the locals eat. The food is usually terrific and you're not being taken for a ride when you get the bill!! I do envy you going to New England - I'm sure it will be a wonderful experience for you.

Valerie said...

Great, practical tips! I love what the U.S. has to offer. We have a huge variety of sites and landscapes that are rare to be found all in one country. (Side note: My husband and I are visiting New England this fall, too!)

Jennifer Rod said...

these are great and came just in time. im doing some new england travel in the next few weeks... hope i run into you! ;)

Amber Blue Bird said...

diners, drive-ins and dives is my favorite food network show so the fact that you based a trip around the places featured...well you just earned 100 cool points in my book

Erika Lee Sears said...

such great tips! I love traveling!

Kelsey said...

These are such great tips!! I've written a few posts about traveling on a budget too, you should check them out :) xo!
Top 5 Cheapest US Destinations
Traveling on a Budget

Blondie's Journal said...

We love going off the beaten path and I'm happy someone else does, too. Great tips, Courtney and I love your pictures!!

XO,
Jane

Bibi said...

Great advice, darling. this will make traveling a better experience and so much easier on the budget. Thanks!

alltraveltips4me said...

Great,practical tips!Nowadays, Budget Travelling is very important.

Mrs. Ham said...

my favorite family vacations growing up were the ones when everything went wrong, when we didn't stay at the nicest places, or eat at the best restaurants. our family laughs so hard about those still to this day.

i love your blog. great comment, i'm following now!

tanandmeg.blogspot.com

S and O said...

Great tips!
I love all of your pictures :)
xoxo
Olivia

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

All great tips!!!

discount scuba gear packages said...

Thank you so much for sharing these tips!! They are amazing!

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