Everyone needs a vacation. For a brief period of time, we can forget our troubles and cares and not think about overdue reports, nasty customers, sales goals, the idiots we work with, or perhaps an overbearing boss whose primary goal is to make everyone as miserable as possible. Whatever the case, we need some time away from the j-o-b.
But not everyone can shell out thousands of dollars for a week on the beaches of Costa Rica or an all-inclusive stay at a 5-star resort in Jamaica. Budget constraints keep many people from enjoying the plush vacation packages offered by travel agencies, so they end up lounging around the house and sleeping late until it’s time to go back to work. While this too can be relaxing, it can also be boring and not the least bit fulfilling.
There are options for those who may be broke when their vacation rolls around, and none of them involve sitting on a sofa eating cold pizza and watching Andy of Mayberry re-runs. With a bit of ingenuity and thought, a person can have a great time just staying local. Of course, if they really must get out of Dodge, there are ways to do that as well, but it requires advance preparation and planning. Let’s explore some options.
1 Attractions in Your Own Backyard
Admit it. There are attractions within driving distance you’ve never seen. There are museums you have never visited. There are restaurants you’ve heard about but never tried. It is a proven fact people are guilty of traveling great distances to view the wonders of the world while ignoring what’s right under their noses. Lots of New Yorker’s have never been to the Statue of Liberty, just as many of the folks in D.C. couldn’t care less about the Washington Monument. Yet tourists fork out good money to take selfies in front of these things.
Do an internet search of your city or area and you might be very surprised at what you weren’t aware of. Chances are, there are plenty of places to visit within an hour or two drive.
2 The Great Outdoors
You may have some very good hiking trails nearby you didn’t even know were there. Use your time off to get back to nature and do some exploring.
Even local and state parks often offer fishing, boating, hiking and more. For a few bucks (sometimes for free) you can create your own mini-adventure. If there is a national park nearby, which there usually is, do some camping. There is no better way to relax than sitting around a campfire just letting your thoughts go where they will.
3 Work on Long-Neglected Projects
Rearrange your house. Give it a makeover. It’s probably been arranged the same way for way too long anyhow. Maybe go shopping for some new knick-knacks to add a little different style. You might even want to paint a wall or two to add some accent. Get creative and go crazy with it.
Start that world-class best selling novel you’ve been threatening to write for years. If you have a week off you can put a pretty good dent in it and this might motivate you to actually finish it. The world awaits your completed masterpiece.
4 Plan for the Future
Though this is not much of a vacation, you may wish to spend the week searching for a new job that either pays better or might be a bit less frustrating than where you work now since you’ll have the time available to do so. Spruce up your resume or update your LinkedIn and Indeed profiles. Invest in getting yourself in a better position so you won’t be scrimping when your next vacation rolls around.
If you really must travel there are some things you can do but they will take careful planning, so there’s no waiting until the last minute. And, you can go just about any place you want to.
Traveling on the Cheap:
1 Work It Off
If you have a skill, such as designing or optimizing websites, contact a smaller resort or hotel and offer to beef up their web presence in exchange for room and board. You may be surprised at how many will be willing to jump at the chance. It’ll be much less expensive for them than hiring someone and if what you do could bring them additional business, it’s kind of a no-brainer. Maybe you’re a painter and some of their rooms need a new coat, or you’re a photographer who can offer professional pics of their establishment. The possibilities are endless. Use what you know how to do best and barter.
If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and you have a love of the outdoors, volunteer to work on an organic farm in exchange for a place to stay. There are more of these in the world than one might imagine and they can always use an extra hand or two. Contact an organization known as WWOOF. This an organization that has the lowdown on organic farms all over the world. They know who needs help and who doesn’t and they will put you in direct contact with the individual farms. You don’t have to only stay for a few days, most of them will let you stay and work as long as you want to. It’s a great chance for total immersion in a new culture and some of these farms are located in very cool places such as Argentina, Nepal, and Cameroon.
3 Join the Sharing Economy
Try Airbnb, but don’t stop there. While you are gone rent your own place out. If you’re lucky your house or apartment may rent for more than where you are going, and most people can charge more than what they pay monthly so you’ll come out ahead. If you choose a location with a low cost of living, such as almost anywhere in Southeast Asia, you may end up coming out way ahead.
Don’t worry so much about being broke when vacation time rolls around, it happens to us all. But also don’t let it stop you from truly enjoying your time off. You still deserve it, money or not. Whether you choose a stay at home option or some exotic location, keep this one thing in mind. Where there is a will there is always a way.