I get hit with the travel itch at the most inopportune times. My husband and I are working towards financial independence. We are speedily paying down our one car loan (we own the 2nd car) and saving to fully fund our 3 to 6 month emergency fund. We are happily working towards our financial goals and are on track with our schedule. We are so close to these two goals we can taste it!
Of course, this is when I start to get the travel itch. I want to go to New Zealand, Thailand, Jamaica, Spain, Iceland and the Galapagos Islands, just to a name a few places! I have caught myself recently trying to justify the cost of international travel, in the midst of us being so close to these financial goals. But then I slap myself back to reality and tell myself that if we did it now it would really set us back on our goals. So, there I was, back on track but feeling a little deprived, until I remembered…..staycations!!
Now, my definition for a staycation is a bit broader than most. A traditional staycation is when you stay in the town you live and explore it like a tourist. We do this version of staycation regularly. So, my definition of a staycation is to go anywhere within an easy driving distance, about 4 hours is my maximum. This way we aren’t paying for plane tickets, trying to avoid baggage fees buy stuffing everything into carry-ons, paying for rentals cars, etc. There are a lot of hidden/surprise costs in travel. When we travel somewhere for a staycation we bring all the clothes we could need (yes, I can bring a whole bag of shoes if I want J), bicycles, cameras and lots and lots of snacks.
Where to go and finding a hotel. My favorite place for travel inspiration and finding deals on hotels is Groupon. I love Groupon because it provides a good mixture of location options, we end up finding places we have never been before. If you live in an area that does not have many options on Groupon you can also look at a map and pick out a town that you have never been. If it is an area that doesn’t get a lot of tourists, the hotel rates may be reasonable.
Bring lots of food. I have noticed that when we travel our most expensive meal, which ironically also ends up being the worst meal, happens when I’m hungry and desperate to eat. We end up picking the first place that we see, yelp would be so disappointed in us. When we bring lots of snacks, we not only save money on meals but we also have more time to get acquainted with the area and ask people for recommendations on where to eat. I like to bring all our food for breakfast (if the hotel doesn’t provide it for free), lunch and snacks. Then we can explore the area by day, consult with locals and yelp, and pick out an amazing dinner spot.
Bring your bicycles. We love to bicycle, cruising on the streets and mountain bikes. We bring our bikes whenever we travel. This saves us from bicycle rental fees and also lowers our transportation costs. Bicycling saves on money on gas, wear on the car, and provides a workout! Also, you see the area differently on a bicycle. If you wiz by going 40 mph you aren’t going to notice the little things. We recently found a trail head which boasted an amazing view of the sunset, we would have missed this if we were driving by.
Our last staycation was to Amelia Island. Being in central Florida is such a blessing because there are so many places within a 4 hour driving distance! We got a great deal on the hotel on the beach since it is technically the off-season, and since it was off season we did not have to deal with crowds of tourists, we were able to explore the town as if we were locals. Though I’m sure our cameras tipped them off that we were tourists. Once we got to Amelia Island we parked the car and didn’t move it for three days, we used our bikes to explore the island. We found an abundance of natural areas, I saw my first armadillo, an interesting historic downtown and watched the sunrise from the beach and the sunset from the harbor.
I love staycations, there are so many places locally that I have not seen yet. Once we reach our immediate financial goals, we will have more flexibility to travel further away. But until then, we will use staycations to give us the rest we need, allow us to explore new terrains and help us from feeling vacation-deprived.
What are your tricks that keep you on track with your financial goals but not feeling deprived?