In a previous post, Too Broke to Travel? Think Againwe discussed the fact that most of us are held back from adventure by our belief that we are too broke to travel. Now it’s time to discuss if you’re too broke to travel, take a cheap vacation.

We get it. We’ve definitely been there. Travel sometimes is at the bottom of the priority list for good reasons! And unfortunately traveling gets more complicated over time. Mortgages, car payments, bills, and child costs all begin to pile up. We know how you feel. The good news is, it is possible to travel if you get creative. Sometimes you need to get really creative.

There are many ways to fund travel, some of them include:

  1. How to save more money…to afford to travel.
  2. How to travel without spending much money …(below)
  3. How to earn money while traveling…to afford to travel.

Too Broke to Travel? Take a Cheap Vacation

In this post we want to dive into how to travel for cheap. Did you save up $500? Here is how you can spend it.


Have you ever wondered what the next town over looks like? Have you ever just drove to see where you’ll end up? THIS, our friends, is traveling. Explore! Charge up those phones and just go.  You can always use GPS to get home. Don’t have a “smart” phone? Buy a cheap roadmap. Trust us. If you make any trip about discovery it will be fun. For years we didn’t have time to travel so we would explore close by neighborhoods and nearby towns, checking out houses, restaurants, hikes and seeing where the next road led us, wondering if we could find hidden gems. And we never went more than 30 miles from home.

Sometimes when you live in a place for a while, you forget to be tourists in your own city. Another fun thing is to look up the best destinations in your town, and go visit. You wouldn’t believe the neat things you can find close by!

There were a few years when neither of us had overlapping vacation time, so our most memorable vacations were weekend getaways. Renting a cottage an hour away on AirBnB for Friday and Saturday nights can be a rejuvenating getaway. Here is an AirBnB Vintage Camper in San Luis Obispo, a beach town 3 hours south of San Fran. for $75/ night.  Pack some snacks, and some instant coffee, and you’ve got the ingredients for an amazing weekend.

Pinch some pennies for a $500 vacation

In Too broke to Travel, Think Again, we’ve talked about how to save $500 for a vacation. Now that you’ve saved up…you can spend it! Lets explore how to make that $500 go as far as possible.


So you’ve saved up for a vacation, congrats! Now lets spend it! 
Here’s an example itinerary for a 4 day vacation, leaving Thursday and returning Sunday. Also if you double the savings, you can double the distance you go. Totally doable.

  1. Drive/take a bus 4 hours south or north to a fun new town.
    •  approx. 2 tanks of gas there and back = about $75
  2. Stay in a Motel 6, AirBnB, or of course, we love to camp! (Is this luxurious? Nope! But you won’t be there long, you’ll be out exploring)
    • Motel 6 avg. $50 night = $150
    • Camping avg. $25 night =$75
    • AirBnB avg. $80 night = $240
  3. Walk around the downtown area and explore shops and get coffee
    • $10 for coffee
    • $20 to buy something downtown
  4. Check out local attractions in the free newspaper
    • Free – $50
      • In Taos we found free live music, art gallery openings, and coupons to restaurants
      • In Manitou Springs we found $150 FREE coupon to 10 classes of yoga and a two hour soak in the hot springs fed hot tubs
  5. Buy “no cook” groceries at the store
    • $50 (example shopping list below)
      • Breakfast
        • fruit – $5
        • oatmeal (use hot water from the coffee maker) -$4
        • cereal -$4
        • milk – $4
      • Lunch
        • Sandwich fixings:
          • bread – $3
          • cheese $4
          • vegetables $5
          • sandwich meat $5
          • condiment-$2
      • Dinner 
        • salad -$3
        • meat of choice -$10ish?
        • rotisserie chicken -$5
  6. Go out to a restaurant.
    • $55- You saved up, now go out somewhere nice. Yelp and Trip Advisor are great tools to find the best food in town.
  7. $100 remaining to do whatever you want. Upgrade to a nicer hotel, eat out more, stay extra nights, splurge on a theme park, whatever! Decide on what works best for your situation.

A Little bit can go a long way

In conclusion, you don’t need a lot of money to have a fun vacation. There were a few years where our 4-day getaways were some of our highlights of the year. Getting creative about cheap and free activities can be a part of the fun. If you are clever about saving money, and clever about spending it while traveling, traveling somewhere is more in reach than you may think.

But what about traveling abroad, you ask? What about longer trips?

Well stay tuned for our next installment: How to earn money while traveling, so you can go farther for longer.  To be the first to hear, subscribe here. 



  1. Recently, my girlfriend and I went to Borneo. It is considered local to us (we’re from Malaysia) but somehow there are very few locals who travel there. Flight tickets were domestic, we don’t lose anything over currency exchange and we speak the same language. Despite that, it is such a fascinating to find out absolutely different culture and practice with just a 3-hour flight away. Traveling light with a backpack, staying in a hostel and buying food at the least attractive looking shops is an adventure on its own!

    And best of all, it’s really cheap! We spent around MYR340 for two way flights, and MYR600 for a week’s expenditure. That totals up to MYR940 which is around USD220. Isn’t that an amazing deal!

    • Hey Rev! It really is amazing what’s in our own backyard that we never consider “travel.” I’m so glad you had a nice time and didn’t have to spend much!

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