Sometimes traveling to far-off places isn’t totally feasible. Time, money, and a host of other issues can often make the idea of taking a vacation stressful rather than exciting or relaxing.
But we all want to travel, right? You only live once.
Especially while you’re young, there’s the conundrum of balancing finances and living life.
Your body can run, jump, swim, climb at its fullest potential. But you’ve still got that school debt and car loan to pay off, too.
How do you balance living in the moment and saving up for the future?
I get it.
I’m in the same boat. Being a solopreneur, my finances are less than stable. I don’t really know when my next check is going to come in (if it’s coming in at all), but I also have command over my schedule.
I’m all set up for robust travel except for the fact that travel is often times expensive.
Definitely a conundrum.
If you’re in a similar boat – or really just can’t fathom a long-distance, heavy-hitting trip right now – then you might consider traveling locally or regionally.
And a local vacation doesn’t have to be a compromise, either. A lot of people who end up traveling local are astounded at how much exciting, cool stuff is basically right in their backyard and completely within their budget and time limitations.
Get ready to open your eyes.
Here’s some great ways on how to start planning your local vacation:
1. Get a Regional Guide
It’s funny how much we miss about a place just because we live there (or somewhere nearby).
Regional guides are cheap and packed full of information that you thought you knew but really didn’t.
Sure, you might know about the biggest attractions in your local area (but have you been?), but there are plenty of awesome under-the-radar places that regional guides pick up on because they’ve done their research.
My favorite guidebooks are always from Lonely Planet. (Seriously, I love them.) They’re packed full of all the information you’d ever want about a place, arranged for every type of budget and interest.
What’s also great is that often times, they have single chapters you can download from a larger guide book. I just downloaded the Texas – Dallas & The Panhandle Plains PDF chapter for $4.
It’s pretty awesome.
2. Visit City Websites & Tourist Offices
Most cities and towns have websites that will tell you about all of the best attractions in that area. If you’re visiting someplace close by but that you’re really not all that familiar with, browse the city website to see what the area has to offer.
Another option would be to visit the local tourist office for ideas; it’s also a great chance to talk to others about their favorite places to visit around town.
3. Check out nearby National and State Parks.
More often than not, there’s a nearby State or National Park that you’ve never taken the time to visit. These can be great options for an affordable local vacation.
If you’re into camping, checkout the campsites the parks offer. In the U.S., they are as cheap as $15 a night. Bring your own groceries and gear and you’ve got it made.
If camping isn’t you’re thing (I get it; it’s not for everyone), most parks also have cabins you can rent that are usually quite affordable. That way you have a bed, bathroom, and some cooking appliances to make the place feel more like home.
Spending even just a few nights in the great outdoors can do a lot to refresh the soul, revitalize the mind, and keep your wallet in check.
4. Be sure to stay the night somewhere else than home.
To really make it feel like a vacation, be sure to book accommodations somewhere other your house or apartment. At home, there are too many distractions that can lure you away from actually exploring your area. And it just doesn’t feel as special and exciting.
Thankfully, there are some really easy and affordable options these days for booking accommodations.
If you like the hotel feel, check out the app Hotel Tonight. It’s an app that helps you score the best last-minute hotel deals. Just show up to the city that day, and Hotel Tonight will show you the best available options around town. Because an empty room at a hotel is wasted profitability for the business, rooms often go for much cheaper at the very last moment than if you had booked in advance. I’ve used it on multiple occasions and had a great experience every time.
If you’re fine with staying in other people’s spaces, then of course AirBNB is another fabulous option. Honestly, it’s my favorite type of stay. If you’re not already signed up for AirBNB, use this link to get a $40 credit towards your next trip!
And, as is referred to in the point above, camping or renting a cabin is almost always an affordable option, too.
5. Use apps, Facebook events, and local blogs to discover new things in your area.
Often times when we’re from a specific location, we forget to actively look for exciting things that are going on. (Or is that just me?)
That’s where the Internet comes in. Apps, Facebook, and local bloggers do all the hard work for you.
- Local Eats: this U.S.-focused app helps you discover locally-owned, non-chain restaurants wherever you’re at. You can also make reservations, book a taxi, get directions, etc. right in the app itself.
- LikeALocal: this Europe-focused app helps you discover local vacation hot spots around many major cities. Restaurants, bars, sights, and more are all included the recommendations per location.
- Gravy: this app shows you events going on in your area based upon your mood. Want to chill? Cool. Want to party? Also cool. They’ve got local options for both and everything in between.
Facebook Events is a great way to check out what’s going on in any area, home or away. Just go to Facebook –> Events –> Discover, and then filter by city and date. There should be plenty of fun options you can peruse for your vacation days.
Obviously, which blogs to follow is going to vary based upon your general area and location. However, a quick Google search with “[city name] blog” should give you a few good areas to start from. Check out to see if they have a local vacation or travel section to discover some new, fun places to visit in your area.
For all of my Fort Worth friends, I love the blog Fort Worth Locals. They’ve got great restaurant, bar, shopping, and attraction information and reviews that I turn to regularly.
What do you think about local vacations? What are your best tips and recommendations for this type of vacation? Leave a comment below!