Vacationing on a Budget

We recently returned from a 10-day trip out west. We hiked in the Nevada high desert, went to Lake Tahoe, stayed a few nights in Yosemite National Park, sat in hot springs in the California Mountains, spent 3 days in San Francisco, visited the Red Wood Forest on the California coast, and hiked in several National Forests and Preserves. All in I, spent around $800 out of pocket. I think that I did very well with the cost, considering the number of days we were on vacation and the things we did and experienced. So, how did we spend our vacation on such a lean budget?

Air Fare

My girlfriend started researching and pricing flights for our trip almost 8 months ahead of time. She would check weekly on various travel sites for pricing and signed up for alerts when there was a price drop. She purchased our tickets about 3 months ahead of time and scored a good deal by booking economy. We had layovers coming and going, but the round trip from Pennsylvania to Nevada was less than $300 apiece.


We had the advantage of having friends in Nevada, so we got free accommodations for most of our trip. Granted, this was a huge advantage for us cost-wise. But the few nights that we did stay in the National Park and on the west coast were budget-friendly.

Airbnb was our friend on this trip. We found that renting a small house was cheaper than most hotel rooms that we researched.  Also, a house gave us a kitchen. That meant that we were able to go grocery shopping and cook most of our own meals. A huge cost savings versus eating out multiple times a day.


Staying with friends meant that we didn’t need to rent a car. Splitting gas a few ways over the course of our trip was much cheaper than a car rental would have been. We drove over 1,000 miles during our travels, but we only had to pay for a fill up a couple of times each.


A lot of what we did was free or had a low cost. Staying off the beaten path and away from typical tourist traps allowed us to enjoy the country without spending a lot of money. Hiking, walking on the beach, and exploring the city and its various landmarks were all free. We did eat out a few times and stopped for drinks and some local bars, but it wasn’t daily.

So, there you have it. A 10-day trip packed with activities and experiences on a budget. With a little preplanning and with selecting activities that are free or low cost you can have a vacation that is relaxing, memorable, and budget-friendly.  Have you vacationed on the cheap? How did you pull it off? Share below.

See Also:

Scoring Deals on Airfare

A Complete Guide to Travelling Across Canada on Budget

How Can I Travel For Business Without Breaking My Budget?

Eating Out Versus Cooking at Home

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