We love to look at the pictures of beautiful places and wish we could travel there. But, a tight budget can get in the way of travelling, especially if requires flying. There are many travel blogs out there, written by people who have sold their belongings and dove into the world of travelling.
I am not one of those people. I like to keep my hijab on, so couch surfing or hitchhiking is not going to work for me ;). I also have kids to raise, rent and bills to pay and others responsibilities that come from being a mom (and an adult). Besides, I like routine, love living in the comfort of my home (and sleeping in my own bed) and play with our furry pets.
We also live on a budget. We have decided to live frugally so we can have an emergency fund, save up enough to pay full in cash if we choose to buy a house and live a life without having to worry about being in debt or paying interest. But frugality doesn’t have to get in the way of seeing fabulous places or creating amazing experiences. We have been steadily taking day trips for the last few years and this year we have visited more places than ever before.
These trips cost us $50 or less which includes-
- Entrance fees- Entrance fees to parks where we live are usually under $10. Beaches are free to enter.
- Parking Fees- We always look for free parking, sometimes we walk for a few minutes to our destination or drive around for a little while to find a parking space without a price tag attached to it.
- Food- We take our cooler wherever we go to save money on food. We indulge in eating restaurants rarely, usually for occasional trips that require major walking (think Chinatown) or eat out as a treat.
- Souvenir- We prefer natural souvenirs, like shells, driftwood or sea glass pebbles in a rainbow of color. We look for pressed penny machines wherever we go to add to our pressed penny collection which cost little.
- Gas- We try to keep it under $20.
Here is how you can have a fabulous trip under $50
Pick your destination-
We love to visit National Parks and State Parks. These parks offer a variety of adventures for the whole family, from camping to digging for diamonds. So, look for National Parks and State Parks where you live and see which ones are suitable for your family. We recently visited John. P. Taylor Park in Northern California and we were blown away by its tall Redwood trees and serene creeks.
- Visit gov to find national parks within driving distance. We like to keep the driving within 1-2 hours each way to make post trip clean ups easier.
- https://www.reserveamerica.com/ is like nps.gov that can help you to plan your trip as well.
- Lonely Planet’s new TRIPS guide books can be a great resource for you if you are into reading and feel overwhelmed by all the information out there. These books cost around $20 and are free on KindleUnlimited. I recommend buying a used copy of Lonely Planet U.S.A Travel to keep it frugal.
- Look for great deals on local attraction on com.We found tickets on Groupon for a local zoo at a great price. You will have to plan your trip to make the best of these deals but the savings are worth it.
- And don’t forget to check out Yelpfor tips and advice from people who have been there, done that.
Getting to your destination-
Drive! Gas prices have seen better days but I’m glad it’s been steadily $3.50 or less for the last 12 months or so. Plan your trips to keep the gas cost lower. You can use Trip cost Calculator from gasbuddy.com, to calculate your fuel cost. It will also help you locate the cheapest gas stations along your road-trip route.
You can also use http://beta.costtodrive.com/ to find popular destinations and calculate your fuel cost to get there.
What to bring for the trip-
- Clothes-1 Extra set of clothes for each kid, windbreakers, rain jacket for adults and kids.
- Protection- Sunscreen, bug spray, first aid cream, band-aid.
- Beach/Creeks- Swim suits, beach towels, sandals, beach tent, extra towels, folding chair.
- Entertainment- Books, sketch books and pencils, color pencils, audio books, binocular, camera.
- Park- Mat, blanket, scooter, bike, helmet.
- Miscellaneous- Towels, blankets.
Handy things to have-
- Beach tents are great to provide protection from sun, wind and rain.
- A Canopy provides great protection from sun, especially if you plan on staying for a while.
- Beach umbrellas are good alternatives if you don’t have a canopy or a tent. It protects you from sun.
- Blanket/sheets/mats- These are handy for anywhere really. I keep a blanket in my car all the time. I take sheets made with home decor fabric. They look much better than regular fabric or sheets and hold better in the washer/dryer. You can get these fabric at any fabric store.
- Cooler/s- Coolers keep food hot/cold and fresh. Take ice to keep food fresher longer and to avoid food waste when you have left overs. I use reusable ice packs.
- Cooler bags- I love coolers bags as they are so convenient when you do not want to bring a cooler. I bring at least 2 with me to carry our foods and drink.
Food for your trip-
We like to keep it simple when it comes to taking food for day trips. We take food that are easy to prepare and travel well in a cooler, like fried rice with vegetable/meat/shrimp, beef/chicken/fish burger, or some type of sandwich/panini. We also take fruits that you can peel and eat, like orange and bananas. We bring chips, dried fruit- dates, figs; homemade muffins, cakes or cookies for snacks and water for drinking.
Take reusable plates and tableware for eating and container for leftovers. We use our reusable plates/utensils/ water bottle and cloth napkins to keep it frugal and almost zero waste.
We try to refrain from buying things from our trips to waste less and to live clutter free. Sometimes we get pebbles, rocks, driftwood, or bring a flower or a leaf to press at home. The only souvenirs we like to collect are pressed pennies. These pennies do not cost much, take little space but remind us about all the places that we have visited over the years. You can also buy things that have a purpose, like dishtowels or mugs.
How to save money for your trip-
7 Ways to save $20-$40/week-
- Choose to eat no meat for 1 day/week.
- Skip fast food once a week.
- Take coffee from home in a reusable mug.
- Sell your clothes/accessories on Poshmark,
- Sell unwanted items on ebay or textbooks on half.com.
- Have a yard/garage sale.
- Take lunch from home 1-2 times/week
How to make time for your trip-
Make travelling your priority. If travelling is not a priority for you, you will always find something else to spend your time (and money). We take a day trip almost every other Sunday and learned to make time for planning and preparing for the trips. Spending time in the nature saves you from wasting money at the mall. So, take your time for planning and preparing and think about all the great memories you will make with your family.
Look for discounts on entrance fees where you’re headed for your trip. Many places offer discounts for senior citizens and kids under a certain age can enter for free. Every year, beginning September 1st all kids in the fourth grade have access to their own Every Kid in a Park pass at www.everykidinapark.gov. This pass provides free access to national parks across the country.
I hope you can make some time for these frugal day trips that will remind you of the wonderful Allah(swt) sends our way through nature. These trips will give you a much-needed break from your week to week routine and you will make fond memories at the end of Summer/Fall, when the long winter days are about to set in. You will also feel pleased with your accomplishments that comes from your frugal adventures insha Allah.