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Friday, July 25, 2014

How To Afford Vacation When You Can't Afford A Vacation

Want to vacation but don't have the money? Here are some ideas of how to afford it!
Since getting serious about paying off debt the hubby and I decided to stop putting money toward vacations for a while. I know, I know. Crazy, right? We just figured that since we're young and don't have any kids we could live without expensive vacations.

Besides, we had squirreled away some money into a vacation fund which we decided to keep on hand in case either one of us was ever in danger of internally combusting without some kind of a vacation. Fortunately that hasn't happened.

In fact, fortunately, we have been blessed with many astoundingly affordable vacation opportunities in the last year or so, which can only attribute to God's grace. We got to go to Boston for a night; enjoyed a weekend at Old Orchard Beach, ME; and, of course, our infamous trip to NYC to be on the Katie Couric show (which you can read about here if you're awesome). And all of these vacations cost us little to nothing.

Now, granted, life isn't always so cooperative. Some people really struggle to find vacation time. In fact, we have some friends who went through our Financial Peace University class this spring who live for vacations. Cruise ships. Beach resorts. They look forward to it every year. It was a huge sacrifice for them when they cut back on some of their vacation expenses.

Jake and I know how hard it can be to make such sacrifices. When it comes to vacations though, there are lots of affordable alternatives that can do the trick until you've paid off enough debt to be able to afford that luxury cruise.

For this summer, my original idea was to camp out in our back yard, make the house off limits—except to use the bathroom—and cook all our meals over an open fire. Romantic nights under the stars. Just me and the hubby in a tent in the backyard. Close to nature. Deer. Bears. Ticks. Oddly enough, he wasn't thrilled about this idea, but I have no idea why ;-)

We considered staying at home for a week, making a plan to do some kind of activity every day—hiking, biking, kayaking, or some other free activity in the area. This idea was more palatable, because, honestly, sometimes after a vacation you come home and are just as tired from all the traveling and busy activities as you were when you left. So the idea of staying home and just relaxing was rather appealing.

The other idea was to do something with my family. In the past they have rented a cabin on a lake in Vermont, and so we talked with them about possibly renting something together.

All of us talked about a bunch of ideas, but nothing seemed to solidify.

And summer was upon us!

I needed a vacation. I didn't need to go anywhere or do anything special, but I needed some time off. Jake, ever the odd one—I love you, honey!—doesn't ever seem to need a vacation. I think before we were married it had been two years since he last took one.

Anyway, time was running short.

My dad—ever my hero!—happened to do some work on a camp at a lake in Groton, VT, and in exchange negotiated a week of vacation there. Ironically, the camp was right next to the one that he spent time at as a boy. Small world.

Our camp fire at Old Orchard Beach, ME
My parents are awesome, and whenever they get the opportunity to do something like this they never hesitate to get the rest of the family involved. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents... even my oldest sister from Florida, along with her husband and brand new baby girl—who is sure to be the hit of the week—are coming up from Florida.

And I. Can't. Wait!

I know getting a free week at a lake isn't an option for everyone, but my point here—as it has been in previous blog posts—is that there is almost always some alternative available if you take the time to look. I have a friend who recently camped-out in the backyard of a friend who lived a few miles from Hampton Beach. Not only did she get to catch up with some friends, but they also got a free vacation!

Maybe there is something you could do for someone else in exchange for a discount on a campsite, cabin, or other vacation spot. Maybe you have friends who would be willing to join you in sharing the expense of a vacation.

This may not be ideal, but, again, it's not forever. These are alternatives to help get you through these penny pinching years. The bottom line is that even if you have little to no money in the budget it doesn't mean you can't have a fun and memorable vacation. What it all comes down to is: how creative can you be?

Let us know some of the great things you have done on a staycation or awesome free vacation spots you have been blessed with.

Keep pinchin' :-)

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