After months of hard work and hustle, a summer vacation is the perfect opportunity to rest and restore. There are many, many others who would agree. AAA estimates that 100 million Americans will embark on family vacations in 2019, and of that group, more than half plan to travel this summer. It’s important to remember that vacations can be expensive. By understanding your budget and planning accordingly, you’ll be able to maximize your summer vacation for a healthier wallet and a happier you. After all, the point of vacation isn’t just about the perfect beach Boomerang shot, it’s about resting up, enjoying time with friends and family, and creating lasting memories. Below you’ll find a collection of some of the best budget friendly trips that will leave you feeling refreshed and satisfy your need for adventure all at once!
Visit a national park
It can be easy to get caught up in the idea that international travel is the only way to see the world and have a “worthwhile” adventure. But what Leslie Knope will remind you is that the USA is filled with immaculate waterfalls, gorgeous hiking trails, and views that don’t exist in any other part of the world. Glacier National Park, for example, is a favorite destination for many hikers. The park boarders Canada from the northern edge of Montana. Once you’ve paid the entrance fee to the park, you can hike, swim, camp, and experience everything nature has to offer free of charge. You can also take advantage of the fact that the park offers free ranger-led activities, including day-long hikes and stargazing at the Logan Pass. If that isn’t enough, there are also nature centers and rest centers for when you’re ready to relax. Other national parks to check out on a budget include the Grand Canyon, Olympic National Park and Sequoia National Park.
Take in some history
It’s never too late to explore some of the scenes from our nation’s history, whether you never took that middle school class field trip to Washington D.C. or if it’s just been a while and you need a refresher. One such destination is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a major Amtrak hub, Philadelphia is an easy place to travel if you have access to the train. If you prefer to fly, you have flexibility about which airport you travel in and out of, as they have their own international airport, as well as but the Newark International Airport and the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, which are both just a short train ride away from the city.
Once you’ve arrived in the city, you check out the Independence Visitor Center, where you can get a free overview of the city and its attractions and snag some free tickets to Independence Hall. From there, venture to the Liberty Bell (also a free attraction) and then head over to learn about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution at the National Constitution Center for less than $15 per person.
Other historical locations include Williamsburg, Virginia, a town that is both affordable and educational. Williamsburg and the adjacent towns of Jamestown and Yorktown make up the Greater Williamsburg Area, which features more than 400 years of valued American history. Or, if you’d like to stay in the PA area, check out Gettysburg, which best known for its three-day battle in 1863 and former President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The small Pennsylvania town appeals to history buffs and families eager to learn about the blood, sweat, and tears that once blanketed the battlefield.
The great state of Texas
I know, I know. Texas? In the summer? Sounds hot. And while our second-largest state does get a little toasty during the summer months, it’s also packed full of experiences, sites, and adventures. It may not seem exciting, but Houston is one of the most interesting and multicultural cities in the nation. The fourth largest city in the United States, Houston is home to NASA and has a whole slew of attractions that offer free admission. The Menil Collection contains almost 15,000 pieces of art alone! Other free attractions include the Art Car Museum, the Holocaust Museum Houston, the Lawndale Art Center, and the Rothko Chapel. If museums aren’t your scene, you can spend the day like a local and check out Discovery Green and Miller Outdoor Theatre for free entertainment. If you drive there or rent a car, you can even get in a day at the beach on Galveston Island, which is only a one-hour drive away. Another great option in Texas is San Antonio, home to the legendary Alamo and River Walk, or Dallas-Fort Worth.
The international option
While there is plenty of history, culture, and nature to experience in the United States, there’s also a whole wide world open for exploration. If your passport is itching for another stamp, there are some budget friendly options for international travel as well. Even countries that we think of as expensive can have budget-friendly options, no matter what continent. For example, Fiji is actually a relatively cheap place to visit. While you definitely can find expensive options in this Pacific Island destination, you can also enjoy pristine beaches, experience world-class diving, and discover tasty and exotic seafood on a much more reasonable budget. Another international destination option is Argentina, whose cities offer an eclectic European vibe, without the exorbitant price tag, and is home to some of the most impressive natural scenery on earth.
No matter your vacation budget or travel goals, your safety should always come first. And it’s worth spending a little extra for a sense of security (especially if you’re far from home). If you’re traveling internationally, or for a long period of time, consider purchasing trip insurance. A good insurance plan can help cover the costs of an unexpected emergency, and purchasing insurance is often more affordable than you might think!