Can't Afford a Summer Vacation This Year? 4 Ideas to Consider

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on May 2, 2021

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Here's how to enjoy your summer -- even if you can't swing a big trip.

After a year of being cooped up at home, a lot of people are planning to get out and travel -- especially during the summer, when school's not in session and parents have more flexibility. But what if you can't afford a vacation? Maybe money's been tight, or you incurred extra childcare expenses during the pandemic that have done a number on your budget. If you can't swing a summer vacation, here are some options.

1. Take a stay-cation

It costs money to reach a destination and put a roof over your head once you get there. If you're low on funds, a better bet may be a stay-cation. Rather than go someplace, explore your own neighborhood. Try a new museum, drive to a less-trafficked hiking trail, and dine at restaurants you haven't tried. You may be surprised at how much there is to do close to where you live, and taking a stay-cation may help you appreciate your hometown even more.

2. Use credit card rewards to help fund your trip

If you've racked up rewards on your credit cards, you could cash them out to swing a summer vacation. You may even be eligible for a free flight, or a few free nights at a hotel. If you have enough cash back from your credit cards, use the money to book a rental in an area with a lot of free entertainment -- for example, a beach house, where the main cost is renting accommodation.

3. Get a side hustle now

While many people are already booking summer travel plans, you can always try a last-minute booking. You might land a great deal. And if you get yourself a side gig in the next week or two, you could have a solid two months or longer to earn trip money.

4. Try a barter-cation

Maybe you can't afford to rent a beach house for a week, but if you're handy, try bartering with a vacation home owner to fix up the property in exchange for a reduced rate or free stay. Reach out to rental home owners through sites like Airbnb and VRBO to see what arrangements you can negotiate.

A lot of us can't wait to travel this summer. If you're worried about affording a vacation, consider these options. And also, don't despair. If it doesn't work out to take a trip this summer, there's always later, and if you put a summer 2022 trip on your radar now, you have plenty of time to save for it.

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