Cheap Travel - Pay Less For Adventure


Where To Go   Planning Ahead   How To Save   Best Travel Savings EVER

Getting away for the day has many advantages. It allows you to enjoy time with your family, recharge after stressful work days, and it can even provide motivation, learning opportunities, and a fresh perspective. Too often, however, the problem with getting away is the cost. The expense of things like transportation, hotels, admission fees, and even food can really start to add up for a family on a weekend adventure.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to enjoy time away with your family and keep the costs low. One of the reasons that getaways are so costly is because many people fail to plan ahead and explore options that will allow them to save money on their trip. With some planning you will be able to enjoy memorable trips, while avoiding the costs and crowds the average traveler encounters.

Where To Go
One of the reasons getaways cost so much is because most people opt for the usual, easy (and expensive) choices. For example, large amusement parks can easily cost $40 or more per person just to get in! The great thing about America is that there are so many interesting and fun places to visit that cost next to nothing.

A great rule of thumb is to ask yourself what a cheap travel alternative would be to the usual spots you might gravitate to. Here in the western Pennsylvania area there are plenty of examples. A few are listed below. What about your locality?

Idea #1. Sports. Taking a family to a professional sporting event is very expensive. Consider trying your local team’s amateur equivalent. For example, here in Pittsburgh we have the Pittsburgh Penguins. Their average ticket price is $147. However, their amateur affiliate, the Wheeling Nailers, has an average ticket price of about $15. If the much cheaper price isn’t enough to entice you, also consider this: the amateurs are often fighting for spots on the professional team and play just as hard if not harder!

Idea #2. Amusement Parks. Big name amusement parks are notoriously expensive. In fact in some cases amusement park admission prices are pushing $100 for an adult. Fortunately, there are many cheap alternatives. In Pittsburgh we have Kennywood amusement park with an average ticket price of $40. However, Lakemont Park isn’t that far away and their average ticket price is $10. Additionally, many festivals around the area offer amusements and rides for a much lower price than big name parks.

Idea #3. Museums. Some museums are quite affordable, but others are commercialized and can be costly. Historical societies can be a cheap travel alternative. Historical societies want to promote education and visitation so you will generally get a much better value for any admission you pay. If a locality’s historical society does charge admission, it often includes entrance to multiple venues and includes additional perks / extras not found elsewhere, which enhances the enjoyment you will get during your adventure.

Planning Ahead
One of the keys to a memorable, but cheap, adventure is planning ahead. If you are going to take the time to travel you might as well fill every minute with something fun. Its also cost effective to enjoy 2 or 3 venues instead of 1 – if you are already spending the money to get somewhere you might as well enjoy all that area has to offer. By planning ahead you will:

1. Avoid wasted time. Let’s face it. We all have precious little time to enjoy on our days off. By planning your adventure ahead of time you will have an itinerary that allows you to maximize your enjoyment of your time off.

2. Avoid missed opportunities. Nothing is worse than traveling to your destination only to find out you missed so many other cool things to do.

3. Take advantage of discounts. Organize the timing of your adventure in order to take advantage of discounts / free days. Many places have special events / pricing days. Use that to your advantage.

Here are some ideas on where to find additional places you may want to enjoy on your adventure:

1. The web.
Once you decide where you are going, be sure to check out the website of that city for other ideas. Simply search "Visit (name of city)" and most of the time you will find a travel website that lists many ideas you didn't know about.

Canton, Ohio:
Lancaster, Pennsylvania:
Nashville, Tennessee:

2. AAA (American Automobile Association)
Use their TourBooks. If you are a member of AAA they will give you as many TourBooks, maps, and travel brochures as you can carry. These guides are filled with ideas.

3. Entertainment Book
The Entertainment Book is a collection of coupons and deals. In the book you will find coupons for a variety of dining, travel, and entertainment options. One value of the book is the coupons, another value is the number of ideas you will get from discovering new places to explore.

4. Twitter
Search "free admission” or “open house” on Twitter. You can bet that free zoo, event, museum, and tour admissions are always going on somewhere in the country, and they can often be found on Twitter.

5. Trip Advisor
When you search for a particular venue or location on TripAdvisor you will also find a list of other suggested places to visit close to your destination.

6. The locals.
When you visit a venue be sure to ask the tour guide, host, or employees for suggestions on other spots you may be interested in. They are employed in their local travel industry and will be able to direct you to other low cost adventures in the area.

7. Rest stops.
Yes, rest stops. Nearly all of them have information desks and / or kiosks that provide a myriad of information about out of the way stops you can make along your trip.

How To Save
1. Combine discounts. For instance, use the Entertainment book for BOGO coupons, or use your AAA / AARP membership for discounts along with any BOGO coupons or specials the venue is offering.

2. Buy a membership. Some venues sell a membership. While the membership may cost more than a one day admission, it may be worth it if you can leverage it into additional free visits or free / discounted admission to other places the venue may be an affiliate of.

3. Buy combination tickets. Many venues have multiple offerings for visitors to enjoy. However, purchasing an admission to each one is more expensive than buying a combination pass. Enjoy all the venue has to offer, but be sure you are getting the best value. Not sure if a combination offer is available? Ask for one!

4. Make more than one stop. Plan your trip so that you are seeing lots of things on the same tank of gas.

5. Pack a large snack and lunch box. Just like movie theatres many attractions make a large portion of their income selling snacks and meals to hungry travelers. Pack your own food and enjoy a family picnic before entering the venue.

6. National park free days. In 2015 you can enjoy free admission at our national parks on these days: January 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Day, February 14-16 Presidents Day weekend, April 18-19 opening weekend of National Park Week, August 25, National Park Service Birthday, September 26 National Public Lands Day, November 11 Veterans Day.

Best Travel Savings…..EVER
The absolute best way to save money on your weekend adventures is to turn them into a business. Business owners have many tax advantages and income opportunities available to them that other people do not. Why not get paid to enjoy your weekends off or at least make your trip tax deductible? That is completely possible. Here are just a few ways to turn your weekend adventures into a small business:

1. Blog about your adventures and share your insights with the world. Put advertising on your blog.
2. Create and sell travel itineraries for others.
3. Create, sell and/or conduct guided tours of your favorite getaway spots.

Call ahead! Make sure they are open. Any seasoned traveler will tell you that times / events change and what you see on the web is not always 100% accurate.

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The Quarter Roll is published to provide personal insights and opinions on everyday ways of saving and managing money, budgeting, and reducing debt. The Quarter Roll does not give professional accounting, legal, or investing counsel. The ideas, examples, and advice presented on this site are solely the opinion of the authors based on his or her personal experiences. All photos courtesy of The Quarter Roll, iStockphoto, or Dreamstime. © All rights reserved.