Bargain Summer Vacation Destinations

My recent series of interviews with author Tim Ferriss has given me the travel bug. I find myself plotting grand vacations (or mini-retirements). But I don't have the money to spend on a trip to London or a cruise to Alaska. My sights are set a little lower.

Fortunately, several recent articles have addressed this subject. On Sunday, The New York Times published a list of 31 places to go this summer.

“The summer of 2008 is starting out like a cruel joke, with air travel increasingly a nightmare and with wildly escalating gas prices threatening to make the road trip all but obsolete,” the authors write. “The summer vacation is still an inalienable right, however. And there is no reason to forgo it this year. It will just take a bit of creativity — and perhaps the willingness to stay a little closer to home this time around — to pull it off in 2008.”

The Times list includes places like the Texas hill country, Chesapeake Bay, the San Juan Islands, the San Francisco Bay area, and the Canadian province of Manitoba. There are even three (-and-a-half) recommended destinations in my home state of Oregon.

This article has 218 reader comments offering other suggestions for great low-cost vacation destinations around the United States.

If you're feeling more adventurous — or have a bigger budget — Adventure Travel has a list of 10 bargain destinations around the globe. These include Kuala Lumpur (“the world's best travel bargain”), Utah's Zion National Park, and Buenos Aires (“the Paris of South America”).

Finally, Matt Gross, the Frugal Traveler, is doing his thing again this summer. In 2006, he spent $4,000 for three months of world travel. Last summer, he drove nearly 12,000 miles across the United States in a $1,600 station wagon.

This year, Gross is making a Grand Tour of Europe. His goal is to spend 12 weeks traveling the continent on less than 100 euros (or roughly $160) per day. In his most recent update, he describes making friends (and dinner) in Paris.

All of the Frugal Traveler's adventures are well-worth reading if you've ever wanted to take a big vacation on the cheap. Gross does a fantastic job of documenting the tools and resources he uses to cut costs and have fun.

As for myself? Europe is just a dream. Even a road trip would be too expensive this year. We're spending money to upgrade our home's electrical system instead. In August, I'll take a weekend backpacking trip with some buddies. Later in the year Kris and I may try to find time to visit Seattle or Victoria, B.C. But mostly 2008 will be a year for me to live vicariously through the travel experience of others.

That's okay, though. I wasn't raised in a family that took vacations. We couldn't afford it. As an adult, most of my vacations have been funded by Kris' very generous parents. I may travel in the future, but for now I'm happy to stay at home, puttering around the yard and spending time with friends. That costs less, anyhow!

What about you? Do you have any favorite bargain travel destinations? What web sites do you use to plan your trips? Do you have any tips and tricks you can share with other Get Rich Slowly readers?

More about...Frugality, Travel

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