Like several other of my library colleagues, I just bought a house. While this is a fabulous new adventure I am embarking upon, full of packing and moving, painting, ripping up carpets and sanding hardwood floors, mowing lawns and planting flowers, it has one big drawback for me. I won’t be going on a vacation this year like I did last year.
Now, I know that sounds a lot like whining over a first-world problem and I apologize for that. I realize that there are many people who can’t afford vacations or houses. I understand that I have invested in something big and wonderful, therefore I need to be most careful with my finances and it’s only right that I should stay home this year. But I can’t, I just can’t. I like to travel too much.
So instead I will be embarking upon a few shorter weekend getaways. They will be as frugal as possible. Visiting family and staying with them, as opposed to a hotel. Using Groupons for hotel deals when I am going somewhere where family doesn’t live. Researching free or low-cost things to do in the areas I am visiting. Contacting the visitors and tourism bureaus where I will be going to see if they offer coupon books or any other discount packages.
If you’re thinking about trying to go away for a short or long weekend or plan a budget-friendly vacation, these materials from the library may be just the thing to get you on your way…
Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel (magazine) – Every other month this magazine arrives with articles about budget vacations, exclusive deals, and tips from other readers. You’ll get lots of ideas for the typical travel spots as well as those off the beaten path, which tend to be less expensive.
Backroads & Byways of Pennsylvania: Drives, Day Trips & Weekend Excursions by David Langlieb – This guide organizes your excursions by the roads traveled. You get to decide which part of Pennsylvania you’d like to visit and then it guides you to the seldom-seen sights along the way. This one might become your travel “bible” for the summer. It’s addictive!
The Everything Family Guide to Budget Travel: Hundreds of Fun Family Vacations to Fit Any Budget! by Kelly Merritt – This book leads with “Top Ten Tips for Successful Family Budget Travel” and then moves on to providing advice for planning, booking, and budgeting your less expensive family vacation. The last few chapters let you choose to focus geographically on a Mountain, Water, City, Historic or National Park destination.
Insiders’ Guide to Pittsburgh – Maybe you don’t want to go anywhere. Maybe you really want to save money by staying and eating at home. You could always vacation in your home town. All of those places you’ve always meant to get to but haven’t yet. All of those things you’ve meant to do but just never found the time. Here’s your opportunity.
Let’s Go Budget…guides – If you have a little bit more to spend. Try these thrifty guides to some of the major cities in Europe. Sure, you still have to buy your ticket there, but once you get there you can have a good time without spending like a drunken sailor.
The 100 Best Affordable Vacations by Jane Wooldridge – This guide will lead you to “soul-satisfying vacations,” something that allows you to relax and recharge along with adventures that will expand your horizons. Most of the trips are very budget-friendly. But also included are splurges that, if you’re able to accommodate the added expense, will allow you to feel luxurious too.
10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget by the writers of Wise Bread – Along with the pages and pages of frugal living tips and tricks, there is a whole chapter on travel. I found lots of sage advice here, some well-known and some not so much. But the best things are the questions that it asks, so that you can make sure what you are doing is the right choice. (Meaning the one that costs the least, of course!)
Pennsylvania Camping: The Complete Guide to Tent and RV Camping – Camping is one of the least expensive ways to vacation, so long as you already have the tent, sleeping bags, and other essential equipment. This guide presents all of the state parks and waterways that allow camping, along with tips and helpful advice.
Quick Escapes Pittsburgh: 25 Weekend Getaways from the Steel City by Michelle Pilecki – This book may be a little dated, but rest assured the towns listed in this getaway guide still exist. You just may need to hop online to verify hours, prices, directions, etc. Most of the journeys in this book are within 1-6 hours of Pittsburgh and it offers suggestions for four-season travel. So if you already have plans for the summer, maybe you could try one of these trips in the fall or winter.
Samantha Brown’s Passport to Great Weekends (DVD) – Samantha may not always travel on the cheap, but Philadelphia is included in collection 2, so it could be a realistic weekend excursion for someone from Pittsburgh. Even if you decide you can’t afford any of these trips, you can armchair travel with her from the comfort of your own couch.
Volunteer Vacations: Short Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others by Bill McMillon – These vacations will fit not only your budget, but also your altruistic soul. You’ll have to pay for your transportation to these, often exotic, locales, but once you get there meals and accommodations for a month can be a little as $350! Just bear in mind that you will be expected to work for your keep.
With a little work and help from the library, maybe you too can find a way to squeeze a short getaway into your budget and schedule this summer.