Summer Vacation On A Shoestring

Time to think about summer getaways. For anyone who pays their own bills, “vacation” reads the same as “$$$$$$$$”.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many vacation options, and many opportunities to make it budget-friendly.

Before you go…

Determine what you can afford, and budget it. If you’re that groovy-organized type who keeps all their receipts and bills, you’re in luck— you can easily figure out how much you’ve paid in the past, and in what areas (food, travel, accommodations, souvenirs, etc.)

The rest of us must rely on memory and research. Be pessimistic in your budgeting: assume the costs are steeper than you imagine.

Make a “fun fund” from your current entertainment expenses. No, you don’t have to call it that. But you should channel your spending on the fun stuff (movies, dinners out, video games) into a specific fund for your trip.

Trust me, you’ll love having that extra cash to throw around.

Look for spots close to home. Sure, you could fly to Hawaii. But if the ocean’s your goal, why not check out the beach that’s two hours away?

You can see great art at the Louvre, but you can also see great art at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Don’t diss the off-season. You can get a better deal on hotels, and deal with less tourists. Don’t book around the big summer holidays (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day), and consider vacationing when most schools are still in session.

Watch for AAA discounts and coupons. They can save you serious dollars, especially in combination with off-season rates. Credit card rewards can help too, (but please don’t charge to your card just to get rewards!)

Research, research, research! Research hotel rates, flight rates, hotel reviews, attraction reviews. Read the destination guides at your library. Plan a loose itinerary. Take charge!

Packing up…

Buy your accessories at home. Almost everything is more expensive at destinations. Don’t find yourself paying $5 for a bottle of water.

And on your trip…

Try not to eat out! If your room has a kitchenette, use it. Take snacks with you. Meals can seriously lighten your wallet.

Alexander Carl

Alexander Carl

I find it difficult to brag about myself. Too modest? Perhaps.

Anyway: my name is Alexander Carl. I am a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I spent four blissful years earning a degree in Communication Studies. Now I face the real world of economic downturns, student loans, and the absence of “academic” camaraderie.

Yet I refuse to be bummed. My economic philosophy is to live simply, save, and maximize whatever I can. Consumer culture is undeniably pervasive, but you don’t have to sell your soul to co-exist with it— there is great power from using your economic resources wisely.

I started writing when I figured out how to hold a pencil. Since then I’ve written short stories, poetry, screenplays, and have blogged. In fact, three of my screenplays have been produced into short films, two of which I directed. I’m no stranger to the media, having served as a DJ at a freeform radio station and worked as a crew member for live TV.

Pastimes include traveling (I’ll visit virtually anywhere), swimming, jogging, hiking, and hunkering down with a good movie.

Overall I’m a peaceful person, though not in a creepy New Agey way. I get my energy from music, good conversation, and the outdoors (I was an active Boy Scout, earning my Eagle). I consider myself “inquisitive” and “wry”, and for the sake of autobiography I’ll assume that I am.
Alexander Carl

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