How To Take 52 Vacations a Year – Without Breaking the Bank
A few years ago, pre-pandemic, my family of three was living in a single-income household against our will, and it felt like torture. Sure, we had food, shelter, clothing and supportive friends, but boy were we miserable! Call us ingrates, I’ll allow it, but that’s not the point of this article.
The point is, it’s an all-too-common phenomenon for us to focus on what we lack instead of what we have in front of us. There is this inexplicable desire to leave what we already have in search of greener pastures. And no, it’s not entirely due to the capitalist machine. The escapist culture is an ancient one.
In our period of belt-tightening and penny pinching, what my family thought we lacked was the ability to escape. We felt trapped in and endless loop of budgeting and self-control. What we know now is that instead of constantly trying to escape the lives we had, our time would have been better spent creating the lives we want. Don’t get me started on mindset shifts!
Now, aside from money there are legitimate barriers to getting started in traveling, like time constraints, accessibility issues and simply not knowing where to start. To help you overcome some of those barriers, I’ve come up with a few ways even the homiest of homebodies can take 52 vacations a year. If you want to feel like you’re permanently on vacation, this is the article for you!
I did, in fact, type “52 vacations.” It sounded crazy to me, too, at first. I mean, if we really book out all 52 of our weekends in the upcoming year, will we have friends and loved ones left to share our memories with? I guess time will tell…
First things first, I suggest making a travel calendar to keep yourself organized. In case you’re wondering, my calendar of choice is the very simple, ever-present Google Calendar. Once these escapes are scheduled, treat them just like you would a meeting or a dentist appointment – set reminders, let people know you’ll be unavailable, and for the allotted time take a whole-hearted break from your routine.
Reserve Time for The Big Ticket Escapes
I’m going to give you the main key to successful travel right now – plan ahead. I’m a big fan of spontaneity while actually on your trips, but in order to make it to those extended getaways, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Step One – Budget
Determine your annual travel budget. Put a comfortable number to your goal, and then work backwards from there. Your budget might allow for one big vacation a year, or you might have the freedom for 12. Either way, you’re starting with a plan.
We like to allocate our budget to four major getaways a year – one luxury trip, one road trip, and two smaller adventures. That way we get to travel in every season, and we already have something to look forward to at the start of the year. The luxury trip takes up about 50-60% of our budget, the road trip comes in at about 10%, and the leftover funds go towards the smaller trips.
Step Two – Focus on Flight Deals Instead of Destinations
Let the deals dictate your destination. Try saying that three times fast! I’m sure you have a bucket-list location you want to visit. For me, it’s Australia. And Bali. And Tanzania. And Iceland. Okay, I digress, the point is, oftentimes we are so hyper focused on the trip that we miss the opportunity to explore dozens more breathtaking locations.
When I say let the deals plan your adventures for you, I mean pay more attention to flight prices than to where those flights are going! It sounds backwards, I know, but it’s also genius!
If you’re wondering how to do this, never fear, Going will do it for you! Here are some recent deals sent directly to my inbox by Going.
|DESTINATION||DISCOUNTED FARE||REGULAR FARE|
|Panama City, Panama||$381||$600|
|Chicago, United States||$178||$375|
Step Three – Build an Itinerary
Plan your itinerary. Well, this is an entire course on its own. The art of planning, executing and documenting a memorable vacation is an involved one, and we’re going to save all those details for a stand-alone feature coming soon, I promise. I hate to be a tease, but today we’re trying to get to the dozens of mini vacations you could start taking as early as this weekend!
Explore Your City Like a Tourist
The key to saving money is to not go far. ‘Daytripping’ allows you to make new memories without the need for overnight accommodations or significant travel expenses. It’s a great way to escape the routine of daily life without too much commitment.
I recommend that you start daytripping by first exploring the city you live in like a tourist. Think of it this way, if you had a friend coming to town for a weekend, where would you take them to really get a taste of your town. Do a basic search of tourist attractions, monuments, historical markers and nature escapes near you.
Once you’ve made a list of the attractions you’d like to visit, put them on the schedule and plan a whole day around it. Planning for single-day excursions is a great way to practice planning those big-ticket vacations I mentioned earlier.
7 things to consider when planning a daytrip:
- Timing: Find out about the hours of operation, admission fees, and any special events or exhibits that may be taking place. If the attraction has guided tours or special exhibits, plan your visit around those.
- Transportation: Decide how you will get there. If you’re driving, consider parking options and traffic patterns. If you’re taking public transportation, research routes and schedules.
- Attire: Will you be indoors, or outdoors? Will you be walking a lot? Will you be in the photos you’ll take? I’m a big fan of layers and comfort shoes. Ain’t no shame in the game.
- Meals: Research nearby restaurants and decide which meals you’ll eat at each location. If you’re traveling with young children, the elderly, or anyone with health concerns, don’t. Forget. The. Snacks!!! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- The Weather: Not only should you dress for the weather, also be prepared for unexpected events, such as inclement weather or a sudden closure of the attraction. If there are other attractions nearby, consider visiting them to make the most of your day.
- Cost: Sometimes simply planning ahead helps you find great deals, coupons and packages. As a bonus, you get to avoid long lines and ensure you can see the attraction at the time that works best for you. Factor in the cost of eating out and transportation as well.
- Capturing Memories: How do you want to remember this day? Through photos and videos? A sketchbook. A narrated story? The interior designer in me wants to tell you to avoid buying souvenirs, as they are so rarely tied to an emotion. In no time at all, that cute sculpture or quirky shot glass will become junk. More on documenting your trips in a future post.
Now that you’ve gotten the obvious things onto your calendar, it’s time to dig a little deeper.
Explore Your City Like a Local
This is where it really gets fun. Think about how other people who live where you do are passing the time. Have you checked out farmers markets and neighborhood concerts? Have you considered doing a home-tour? If you’re stumped, check local newspapers for upcoming festivals, outdoor activities and family-owned businesses to explore.
Social media is also a great resource for finding hidden gems. Follow local bloggers, influencers, and pages to stay up-to-date on local events. You’ll also find some great insider tips and recommendations.
Consider taking a guided tour of your city to learn about its history and culture. Many tours are led by locals who are passionate about the place they call home. You could also explore your city on foot or by bike to discover new parks, trails, and neighborhoods that you may have overlooked before.
And hey, don’t forget about volunteering! I know, I know, how is volunteering a vacation? It’s a break from your routine, an opportunity to gain new insights into the needs of your community, and a great way to meet some like-minded individuals. New friendships are an adventure in themselves.
Get a Hotel Day Pass
Not every trip needs to be an exploration. It’s just as important to take time to relax and do nothing. I have become a huge fan of hotel daypasses, because they allow me a full day’s escape from the laundry, meal-prepping and dishes that haunt my home.
A day pass is exactly what it sounds like – access to a hotel room and all its amenities for a day. These passes tend to be a bit cheaper than booking an overnight stay, but still come with all the perks. Did someone say room service? Yes, please! Margaritas by the pool? You betcha. Instagram-worthy photo-ops? No one can stop you! You can find these passes on sites like Resortpass and Dayuse.
Ok, your travel calendar is looking pretty good now – you’ve got local attractions, hidden gems, and fancy hotels on the schedule. You’re feeling more adventurous, more willing to invest in your time away. Enter the weekend getaway.
Go on a Weekend Getaway
The joy of a weekend excursion is that it is entirely self-contained in the confines of your “days off.” You still haven’t dipped (much) into the days you’re saving for your big-ticket escapes.
To keep down costs and time commitments, identify the five cities closest to you. Then repeat the process of researching each of those cities as a tourist, and then as a local. Determine how you want to get there, what you want to see, where you want to eat, and how much you want to spend. Remember, you don’t have to see everything the city has to offer all at once! Because these destinations are close to home, you can return to them multiple times over the year!
In fact, I recommend having themes for each weekend you visit a city. One trip can be dedicated to its museums, the next to its parks and trails, and yet another to its top foodie spots.
The added challenge with these weekend getaways is finding the right accommodation. While there are a multitude of options to consider, including hostels, short term rentals and friends’ couches, I’ll focus on finding a hotel.
Five things to consider when booking hotels:
- Location: Consider whether you want to be in the heart of the city or in a quieter, more secluded location. Also, check if the hotel is near public transportation or popular attractions. I personally try to avoid driving long distances in a place I’m not familiar with, so I aim to stay within 15 miles of my main attraction.
- Amenities: Do you need a pool, fitness center, spa, or restaurant on-site? Are there any specific room features that you require, such as a balcony or a kitchenette? Make a list of what’s important to you and compare them across hotels. Everything else is fluff.
- Price: Determine your budget for the trip before you start looking at hotels, because the more expensive options will invariably catch your eye. If you have the budget for it, great! If not, save yourself some heartbreak by placing a price limit on your search. That said, keep in mind that some hotels may offer packages or special deals that can save you money.
- Reviews: Hotels are masters in marketing. Their goal is, of course, to paint themselves in the best light. Before booking a hotel, I recommend reading reviews from previous guests to get an idea of their experiences. Be sure to read both positive and negative feedback to get a balanced perspective. Pay attention to comments about cleanliness, service, and overall experience. Also, reach out to a travel influencer you trust and ask them if they have any insights to share.
- Accessibility: Consider any specific needs you may have, such as wheelchair accessibility, a fridge, or pet-friendly accommodation. Check with the hotel directly to ensure that your needs can be accommodated.
Phew! That was a lot! Let’s do a quick count of the vacations we’ve planned so far:
If you’ve planned 1 – 4 big-ticket trips, 15 – 20 day-trips in your city, and 2-4 weekend getaways in 5 neighboring cities, you’ve already got 26 – 44 getaways already on the calendar! And we haven’t even touched on staycations, in home spas, and how to land paid travel gigs! Yes, paid.
Alas, this post is getting rather long, so I’ll need to break up all this information into digestible chunks. Can’t give you all my tips in a single post, now, can I?
I guess you’ll just have to subscribe to the blog to keep up! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think about these ideas. Is there anything you’d like me to expand on? I’m here for ya!
I’m currently applying some of these daytripping ideas to Houston – where I live – and I’ll be reporting back on the adventures I find. Until then, I’ve got articles coming up about the things to do before and after taking a vacation, safety tips for family travel, and creative ways to document your trips.
Hey there! I am...
A homebody with wanderlust striving to balance the thrill of travel with the comfort of home. On the road, I am a photographer and storyteller. At home, I am an interior designer and personal servant to my two kids. In all cases, I seek out good food and belly laughs.
If you're looking for ways to tap into your spirit of adventure - with or without a suitcase - you've come to the right place!