How do you afford a vacation when you’re trying your hardest to live frugally? The answer is simple: become a frugal traveler. Sometimes, the desire to hit the open road and have new experiences is just as important to your quality of life as saving money. There are various financial suggestions that can help bend your budget to afford a fantastic frugal vacation.
Don’t Pay Airfare
One of the most painful consequences of rising fuel prices is that transportation costs skyrocket. Airlines will try to offset the price of fuel by increasing fees and ticket prices. To avoid paying an arm and a leg for a short flight, opt to drive to a nearby travel destination.
If you’re really yearning for a destination vacation, search for cheap airfare online or with a travel agent. Check out Kayak.com or Airfarewatchdog.com for last minute sales and to decide where to vacation for the least amount of money.
Don’t Pay for Hotels
Research state, federal, or private parks close to you. They often charge little or no fee for entrance or camping. This kind of frugal travel might not be luxurious, but it will be cheap compared to a hotel. The experiences you have working to set up camp, cook, and explore the surrounding areas will be memorable.
If the outdoors isn’t what you had in mind, there are other options available. Consider a house swap for example. These are made simple over the International Home Exchange Network and HomeLink International. They connect vacationers across the world and securely facilitate the home swap process.
There are also alternative lodging organizations like Servas and CouchSurfing.com that help travelers find free places to crash, whether it’s a room or a couch, across the world. Tripping.com can also help you locate a low-cost place to stay. This website helps frugal travelers by connecting them with local home rentals. It may not be free, but you’ll appreciate a more authentic experience for a lower price than a hotel room.
Don’t Eat at Restaurants
If you’re camping in a national park, then cooking your own food may be your only option. Make sure to bring plenty of supplies, snacks, water bottles, a camp stove, and enough pots, pans, and silverware for everyone who is with you.
Even if you are not camping, preparing your own food can help you learn how to be frugal while on vacation. Try to rent a bungalow or cabin with a small kitchen so that you can cook meals and pack lunches for outings.
Only Use Cash
Traveling on a budget is much easier when you only carry cash. It will make you very aware of how much you’re spending and how much you have left to spend. Either allot yourself a certain amount of money every day and only use what you have on hand, or take out your cash before the trip and keep it somewhere safe as you travel.
Frugal living is tough; adding travel to that equation can make sticking to your budget even harder. Begin preparing for your vacation as far in advance as you can: With careful planning and flexibility on your end, you’ll be able to afford a memorable vacation away from the stresses of everyday life.
Rachel is a seasoned traveler on a tight budget. She also writes articles for Check ‘n Go on responsible borrowing, investment, and budgeting.
 Freedman, Donna. “Don’t skip the trip! Frugal vacation ideas.” MSN Money. 27 05 2011: n. page. Web. 18 Apr. 2012. <http://money.msn.com/saving-money-tips/post.aspx?post=01aea1a9-8bf7-42f7-854e-161b16ab4c5d>.
 Weliver, David. “Five Frugal Travel Secrets.” Money Under 30. 25 07 2008: n. page. Web. 18 Apr. 2012. <http://www.moneyunder30.com/five-frugal-travel-secrets>.