As many of us find ourselves dreaming of a nice vacation, we may be wondering how we can afford it. The costs of gas, hotels, flights, and even rental cars are on the rise. This has put a damper on many vacation plans. Here are six budget vacation ideas that are sure to put a smile on your face.

1 Plan a staycation and be a tourist in your own town

Instead of flying away to a far-off place or taking an expensive road trip, consider spending time enjoying the area in which you live. Explore local museums and historical sites. Take the entire family to an amusement park, waterpark, or a local zoo. Attend a local festival. Cheer on a local sports team. Bike around local parks and hike area trails. Visit area restaurants. Need some help planning? Your local visitors center or website will have plenty of ideas and tourist information. You may be surprised at the fun you discover in your own backyard.

2 Take a camping trip

Camping can make for a surprisingly affordable vacation. It not only helps you reconnect with nature but re-engage with your family as well. You can find a free spot to camp in a state forest or rent a spot with access to certain amenities at a campground. You can do it the old-fashioned way and pitch a tent, which is always popular with the kids. Or, you can rent an RV for a bit more comfort. A family camping trip can be a memorable and fun-filled trip for both kids and adults. Best of all, many of your activities while camping, such as hiking, pond fishing, and sitting around the campfire toasting marshmallows, are free.

3 Make a vacation out of visiting family or friends 

If you have friends or family that live near the beach or another vacation spot, pay them a visit. Staying with family and friends is one of our budget vacation ideas that will give you an opportunity to spend some quality time with people you enjoy. Most importantly, when looking to vacation on the cheap, it’s a great way to get free lodging and even a few meals. Your host will enjoy playing tour guide and showing you all of the sights.

4 Plan a shorter trip

A short trip can be much less expensive than a full week at a pricey resort. Take a drive up the coast and spend the night at a small Inn. Many Bed & Breakfasts can be budget friendly. Find B&B deals on TravelocityExpedia, and other travel sites. Stroll through quaint towns along the way. Dip your toes in the ocean on a nearby beach or picnic in the park. You don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy a weekend escape. Find travel and tourism information by state at  You can access information from each state about events, attractions, activities, lodging, food, and more. Want to save even more money, take your mini trip mid-week when lodging prices are lower.

5 Cash in on your travel rewards

If you have air miles, hotel rewards, or other travel points that you have collected on a rewards credit card, now may be the time to cash them in. Taking advantage of travel rewards points can help you save significantly on your next vacation.

6 Booking a last-minute travel deal is one of the best budget vacation ideas

Here are some of the best sites for last-minute vacation ideas:

  • Hopper – The Hopper app can help you find the lowest prices and flexible options on flights, hotels, and rental cars. They advertise they can predict future travel prices and tell you the best time to book.
  • Priceline – They offer “hotel express deals” with up to 60% off accommodation. They also have “tonight only” deals available only in the app.
  • Orbitz – This travel site offers last-minute deals on their website and extra rewards when using their mobile app.
  • Travelocity – The offer last-minute getaways, as well as featured offers and other travel deals. They also have special discounts for members.
  • Travelzoo – Members are eligible for exclusive offers, including their weekly “Top 20.”
  • Kayak – This site is terrific for last-minute flights with plenty of filters to refine your search.
  • AirfareWatchdog – This site is ideal for getting travel tips and low-fare alerts. Price alerts help you decide the best time to book.  

A personal loan can help fund your vacation 

We hope you’ve found our budget vacation ideas to be helpful. If you’re short on cash and don’t want to max out your credit card, a low-rate personal loan from Guthrie Community Credit Union can help pay for your next vacation. Guthrie offers low interest rates and a fixed monthly payment to help you budget. Best of all, there are no origination fees or pre-payment penalties on personal loans. Tap to see personal loan rates.