It’s a common misconception that travelling and vacations are only for those with giant budgets or serious bankrolls. For those without a trust fund, or who are scrimping and saving to get by, it can seem like the other half jets around the world to exotic locations without a care in the world, while everyone else is left toiling at work and only taking weekend trips to see nearby family.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of affordable, reasonable options for travel that won’t break the bank and are totally fun. Yes, you’ll still have to save and budget a bit if money is a concern, and everyone has different circumstances. But these tips will help you plan out a vacation that is reasonable and doable, one that you don’t have to daydream about and keep putting off.
Take an Alternative Travel Route
One of the costliest things about travelling is the actual travelling. Trains are pricey, planes are super expensive unless you grab tickets way in advance, and cruises are a high-cost way to see the world. And while it is possible to plan way ahead and get great deals on longer-distance travel, being able to plan that far in advance sometimes isn’t an options for those who live paycheck to paycheck.
One great alternative way to travel is to drive to your destination. This requires a different kind of travel mindset than the one needed for hopping on a plane and being whisked away to paradise, but it’s still a lot of fun. To travel to your destination, you only need enough money for the gas to get there, plus a little extra for emergencies and food. Especially if you are driving a fuel-efficient car, this can be a really cheap option. Plus, you’ll be able to see a lot of the country and make stops along the way that would be completely missed if you were to just fly over.
If you don’t have a set of wheels, taking the bus can be an affordable option. This can also be the cheapest choice, as it is possible to land a cross-country bus ticket for under $100 if you do a little digging. In addition to Greyhound buses, there are buses in certain places that are even more affordable. The China Bus goes up and down the East Coast, connecting the cities there, and there is also a bus that goes from Denver to Mexico, for those with a passport.
Look for Cheap Lodging
Another daunting thing about travel is the money that hotels and lodging can cost. For a lot of people, coming up with rent every month is a stretch, so the idea of coughing up hundreds of extra dollars for hotel rooms isn’t exactly appealing. Searching for an airbnb or similar lodging style is a great way to still stay somewhere in style and be comfortable, since you can set the price of the room as low as $20 a night. Another handy tip? Many don’t know you can actually negotiate the price of an airbnb. And since you can message the people renting to you, you can ask and make sure they are LGBTQ-friendly.
Motel hopping can be fun as well; just make sure to do some research on the cheap places you are staying to ensure that they are safe and reputable.
Plan a Camping Trip
It’s also a major money-saver to make your vacation a camping trip. If you have some supplies and a vehicle, all that’s needed is the fee at the camping site, which, if it exists at all, is normally under $60 and is often paid on the honor system. For those planning a short trip, this can be a great call.
Look for Affordable Pet Sitting, or Bring Your Pets
Lots of queer folks have fur babies that are a part of the family, and if you aren’t rolling in it, boarding your pet can be another one of the things that stops you from having a good time. If you’re hung up on pet sitting, try some of the cheap sitting apps like Rover, which can be around $15 a night. They also offer check-in options that are cheaper, for those with cats or other pets that just need to be looked in on occasionally.
Another option is to bring your pets with you. They are welcome in most camping sites, and you can check for airbnb and hotel sites that allow them as well.
Party Like the Locals
Vacationing turns some people off because all vacationers seem to do is hemorrhage money while living out cliche´s. Going to all the touristy spots, shopping for knick knacks, and going on expensive tours isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, or in the budget for everyone. When you visit a new city or town, try to find some fun activities that the locals love. Go to some concerts, check out some local parks or free outdoor areas, and enjoy the area you are in from the inside out. You’ll be getting a more thorough idea of what the place is like, and you won’t be spending unmanageable amounts of money.
Keep it Under Budget
Finally, there is no shame in planning out a specific budget for a trip, and putting away a little money here and there to help you make ends meet. Plan for a $500 or $1000 trip, and then itemize travel and lodging costs to see how much you’ll have left over for fun. Rather than making your trip an over-organized drag, it takes the burden off of you so you aren’t constantly checking your bank account or watching your spending while you’re trying to have fun.