My partner and I are itching for a getaway, but we're the *budget* type, and we would love to know what those in the community have done to create a nice getaway that was on a budget. Share your best budget vacation story!! If you could share the ones you used *money* for, and not points/groupons/coupons/giftcards/magic tricks ( ;) ) that would be even better, but share anyway!
We have taken some local vacations lately. By local I'm saying within 100 to 200 miles away. We are fairly lucky here in the Sacramento Valley because we are close to many beautiful locations. Last year we spent a couple days in Gold Country, took a three day trip to Redding, had a few two day trips to the SF Bay Area. These are all easy and fairly inexpensive drives. We had complimentary breakfasts at our hotels. The hotels, were fairly inexpensive but we used points and free credit card nights. I know I just fell out of the parameters with the points, but they help for cheap vacations/get always. All the places we visited we enjoyed for free. There were paid venues but we just enjoyed the free attractions. I have to admit since I started participating in this community we have taken more short vacations/trips. There are still many more places we want to visit that aren't too far to travel.
I feel that we do our best to get around to different areas, but I don't always feel a pull to anywhere in particular on the East Coast. In spring, summer, or fall, we do our best to get hiking. I agree I think you definitely have more natural beauty on your side of the country, haha! Or if I was into winter sports, I'm sure I'd be in New England area living the life. I guess we could go down south, but generally that's either a long drive or a flight down. Even with points, I still thank you for sharing! Can't wait to learn how to use the points better to get my vacations down to free too. :)
As many of you guys know, we're big fans of workaways and have tried to fit at least one in during our last few trips to Europe. Not only do you have free accommodations and food in return for 4-5 hours of work Mon-Fri, you get to be part of daily life in some beautiful places and connect with the locals and make new friends. We've done a lot of sightseeing using these places as bases for afternoon and weekend trips around the area. We'll generally do this for a couple of weeks, then have a couple weeks more on our own keeping the budget down by staying at AirBnb's and smaller local hotels. They're not only popular in Europe, but worldwide and in the U.S. as well.
There are several blogs out there that have daily emails that you can learn from. What I don't like about some of them is they talk more about elite status levels and flying in business and first class. While flying in those classes would be great I will stick with coach it takes a lot less money and fewer points. Hotel status you can get with credit cards and with some hotels you can get some excellent perks (I love my AmEx Hilton Aspire card). When I started the points and miles game I was reluctant to have credit cards with an AF. Once I got my feet wet with the Southwest card I expanded rapidly to the portfolio of cards I have now. I spend quite a bit over the year but I get a much larger return. My savings from using points for our Asia trip next month alone will cover my credit card AF for 5 years.
It takes some time to learn, I've learned more since I retired because I have more time and I still have a lot to learn. Take it a little at a time. Choose your cards carefully. Don't be afraid of Af because with the right cards you can make a lot more than the fee in a year. There are certain hotel cards that come with an annual anniversary free night, that night alone is worth more than the AF. Some airline cards come with annual mile bonuses (varies depending on card) and some come with an annual companion ticket at a very reduced price, or free and some just have a set discount, like $100 off the second ticket.
Cards with flexible points are great. Cards like our Arrival cards save a lot of money as well. My Arrival plus is one of my go to cards especially when there isn't a bonus category on one of my other cards.
Vmrjah, You may know all this already but I just wanted to help out a little bit.
Boy I went way off topic.
I'm subscribed to one in particular and I have looked up some others. I think what it comes down to is how much we realistically are able to spend. Even the Arrival Plus is getting a bit hefty for us right now, we just aren't in the same spending and earning income zone we were before, so our needs have changed (but our love for traveling hasn't -- haha).
I think once we're able to get back into a place to spend more we'll sink our teeth into airline miles and hotel miles. We racked up a ton of miles on China Southern only to find out we couldn't redeem any of them if our flights didn't start in China -- womp womp.
I appreciate any wisdom you spread!
After I retired I became well aware of income reduction. I'd be in a great place if I didn't get taken to the cleaners by my ex-wife. Oh well, I'm happier now and have a great wife so we deal with it. Keep learning and use it when you're able.
@vmrjah , that's a tough one! We've loved them all, and they were so different. I guess if I had to pick I'd say Scotland, because we were working on an unbelievably beautiful country estate and staying in a private apartment in a 400 year old mansion near Stirling. It was such a great location and very central for seeing so much of the country. Tuscany had the best food, and Serbia was the best for immersion in a culture, so hard to choose! The hosts are so genuinely grateful for the help that they really treat you well and try to make sure you're happy, it's a great setup.
is a flight out to the west coast too expensive for you?
looks like you did a camping road trip in New Zealand. Same concept can be easily done in California.
i think campervan rentals are cheaper here too. Check out Lost Campers online. Pick-ups available in San Francisco and LA. they modify vans and turn them into campervans.
I did a road trip once with my husband and another couple. They took the inside bed and we took the roof top tent. We split the cost of the rental. It was probably only $350-$400 for the week split between 4 people. Better than the average of $150 nightly for a hotel stay.
Get the "America the Beautiful" pass for $80 and you can make it a California national park road trip. Pass is good for two people. Get somebody to share it with and split the cost.
Or a PCH road trip from SF to LA or vice versa.
Research BLM free dispersed camping too. Free camping is not as strict as in New Zealand. You won't be fined for not staying in a self-contained vehicle. :)