A Guide to Fun and Frugal Summer Vacation Activities

The summer of 2021 is shaping up to be one of the busiest travel seasons on record. The travel site Hopper forecasts that the rise in plane ticket prices that began this spring will continue through mid-summer, and vacation rental bookings are up sharply as well. That means that vacationing this summer is going to require more planning and budget-friendly deals will be harder to come by. Don’t despair, though. With a little planning and creativity, a fun summer vacation is still within reach.

Budget-Friendly Getaways

The perfect vacation is different for each family. If your idea of a vacation is a plane ride to a distant location, hope is not lost. There are still ways to frugally get away this summer. These tips will help you stay on budget while still hitting the important items on your vacation bucket list.

  • Skip the rental car. The huge drop in demand last year resulted in many rental car companies selling off their fleets. That means that this year, as demand skyrockets, they simply don’t have enough cars to keep up, and prices are climbing as a result. Look into destinations that don’t require the use of a rental car. That could be a resort that offers airport pickup service, cities with great public transportation, or simply committing to using ride-sharing apps while on vacation.
  • Venture off the beaten path. This is the perfect summer to try new places. For example, in Oregon, the beaches closest to Portland are perennial favorites, but the beach communities in southern Oregon are also beautiful and much less busy, meaning that your vacation will be more affordable and the beaches will be less crowded. The same is true across the country in Maine. Acadia National Park is a beloved vacation spot, and the areas around it also stay busy, but venturing farther up the coast allows vacationers to discover hidden gems that offer the same beautiful landscapes and outdoor activities as Maine’s popular resorts.
  • Go incognito. No one is suggesting that you wear a costume on vacation (unless, of course, that’s a favorite activity of yours!): What this means is that you should incognito browser windows while researching and booking vacations. Websites leave cookies after you visit them, meaning that travel sites can start predicting your favored destinations and travel dates and raise the prices you see accordingly. Incognito mode helps preserve your anonymity and prevents sites from raising their prices based on your browsing behavior.
  • Make money off of your travel. There are several ways to do this. Many credit cards give additional points for traveling with their partner companies. If your card offers cash back, see if they have any bonus offers that can help you earn extra money when you book your trip. Another alternative is cash-back sites like Rakuten.

Road Trip Tips

After a year spent at home, does traveling on the open road appeal to you? Even though gas prices are higher than last year, there are still ways you can design a great road trip that will make lasting memories while still staying within your budget.

  • Figure out how much you can spend before you start planning your trip. Knowing exactly how much money you have for a vacation empowers you to make choices to fit your budget and your vacation goals. If you spend beyond your means, you might end up having to get a personal loan when an emergency expense comes up later on.
  • Do your research. Make sure to check travel advisories and re-opening information for the places you want to go. Not all attractions or cities are back to functioning at full capacity, and you’ll want to plan accordingly.
  • Apps are your friends. Download apps like GasBuddy to find the cheapest places to fill up on your route. Also, consider downloading apps for fast-food restaurants you like. The apps often offer special deals that can help you save money on quick meals.
  • Consider packing your camping gear and using an app like The Dyrt to locate free camping spots. When traveling to larger cities, sites like Hotel Tonight can help visitors to score great last-minute deals on lodging.
  • Splurge on “worth it” activities. Most destinations will offer a plethora of things to do. Which ones are worth spending your hard-earned bucks on, and which can you skip? Try asking questions like, “Can we only participate in this activity in this specific place?” “Will we regret skipping this activity?” “Will we regret this splurge if it leaves us short on money for another activity we’d like to try?”

Staycation Ideas

Staycations can be fun, too, and this summer might be the perfect summer for your crew to stay close to home for a variety of reasons. Staying close doesn’t mean sacrificing a good time, though. Focus on making sure your days aren’t taken up with errands and regular life as you create the feel of a vacation in your very own home.

  • Cheer for the home team! A staycation is a perfect time to take in a local game. Stadiums are reopening, so seeing a game in person is once more an option. If your state doesn’t have a major-league sports team, try finding a minor league team. The tickets and concessions will be cheaper, but you will have just as much fun.
  • See your city as a tourist. Everyone takes for granted the things they have readily available to them. Many people see the sights in places they visit while foregoing notable attractions right where they live. Look up tourist guides for your area and make a list of things you’d like to do. Look on sites like Groupon to save money on admission fees.
  • During your staycation, instead of running to your typical grocery store for dinner items, try local farmers’ markets.
  • Commune with nature. What better time is there than a staycation to check out local walking and hiking trails? Even better, this is activity is typically free or nearly free (some parks have parking fees). Sites like All Trails help users find trails near them and plan their hikes. Remember to bring sunscreen and water!

Fun at Home

Your own home can be the focus of fun, too. There are a variety of easy (and cheap) ways to use your outdoor space to give yourself that resort feel on your own property.

  • Pitch a tent! Just because you are staying home doesn’t mean you have to sleep in your bed. Host a camping adventure in your own backyard. Not only will you save money, but the luxuries of a kitchen and bathroom are just inside.
  • Host a cooking night. It’s so great to be able to host family and friends again, and if one of your favorite things about traveling is discovering new cuisines, it’s easy to re-create the experience at home. Compile new recipes, shop for the ingredients, and let everyone pitch in to prepare fun new dishes.
  • Use those bikes! Rediscover your own neighborhood with long bike rides.
  • Create your own water park at home. Set up a sprinkler over a plastic tarp and you’ve got your own spray park and waterslide.

You might also like...

1 Title-Secured Loans, Secured LOCs and Title Pawns: Maximum pledge amount in Mississippi is $2,500. Maximum loan amount in Tennessee is $6,500, assuming customer qualifies for and accepts both the pledge max of $2,500 and Secured LOC max of $4,000. Refinancing is not available for Mississippi or Tennessee Pledge products. Minimum loan amount for title-secured loans in South Carolina is $601.

Must be at least 18 years of age (19 in Alabama). Account approval requires satisfaction of all eligibility requirements, including a credit inquiry and motor vehicle appraisal. Must present valid government issued ID. Certain other eligibility requirements and terms & conditions apply. Loan/LOC/Pawn amounts vary by states and product. LOC customers are subject to a periodic collateral review to maintain credit limit. Proof of income documentation and ability to repay analysis is required in Missouri, Nevada, some Texas locations, and Utah.

2 Personal Unsecured Loans/LOCs: Unsecured loan amounts and products not available in all stores/states. Max loan amount for first time borrowers is $1,000 ($500 for an in-store personal loan in AZ). Returning customers with a good payment history may qualify for higher loan amounts, currently up to $2,500. Loans above $1,000 ($500 for an in-store personal loan in AZ) require two consecutive pay stubs showing direct deposit. In-Store: Account approval requires satisfaction of all eligibility requirements, including a credit inquiry. Bring in proof of income (dated within the last 30 days), active bank account details (dated within the last 45 days), proof of residency, a voided check, and a valid government-issued ID to apply. In AZ, a valid AZ motor vehicle registration in your name is also required. Min $601 in SC. Without SSN or ITIN, max loan amount is $300. Online: If you do not have an SSN or ITIN, please visit us in store to apply. Additional items required for eligibility, including: a valid and active email address and telephone number, a valid SSN, and proof of residency for the state in which you are applying (currently AZ, DE, KS, MO, MS, SC, TN, TX, UT or WI). Min $610 in SC. Certain other terms and conditions may apply.

– California, Illinois and Virginia Residents: TitleMax® no longer originates new loans in CA, IL or VA, but continues to service existing loans.

– Please see our California Resident Notice at Collection and Privacy Policy: Submit a Verified Consumer Request to understand what information we collect, disclose, or sell, to request that we delete your information, and/or opt out of selling by clicking Do Not Sell My Personal Information.

– In Georgia, TitleMax offers Title Pawns.

– New Mexico Consumers: please see important New Mexico Consumer Information and Disclosures.

– In Nevada, title loans should be used for short-term financial needs only and not as a long-term financial solution. Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling before entering into any title loan transaction. Ability to repay analysis with income documentation required.

– In Tennessee, TitleMax offers title pledges, and secured and unsecured Lines of Credit (“LOC”). Only one LOC account allowed per customer, inclusive of other lenders. LOC customers are subject to a periodic income (and collateral, if applicable) review/validation.

– TitleMax of Texas, Inc. and TitleMax Online of Texas, Inc., d/b/a TitleMax acts as Credit Services Organizations to assist customers in obtaining a loan through an unaffiliated third-party lender. Please see store associate for details. Please see Texas Schedule of All Fees. TitleMax does not offer pawn loans or pawn transactions in Texas.

– TitleMax®, TitleBucks®, and InstaLoan®, are not considered competitors. Please see a store associate for details.

Close Menu
Which login page are you looking for?

Opens in a new window