Ideas for Vacations in a Bad Economy

The success of my last article on whether it was appropriate to take vacations in a bad economy tells me that people are worried, curious, and unsure of how to react to the increasingly bad economic news around us. If you’ve decided that vacations are not something you are willing to give up, regardless of the economic climate, there are a number of general ideas to consider if you are not willing to part with your cash too quickly. Here are a few:

  • Consider a stay-cation: One reader last month brought up the idea of stay-cations, or a vacation taken at home. Consider becoming a “home-town tourist” or taking a short drive to your area’s attractions. Human nature says you probably haven’t been taking advantage of the wonderful things closest to you.
  • Driving vs. flying: Driving long distances usually comes down to an analysis of whether the cost of gas and maintenance is cheaper than the airfare to get there. But it’s rarely that simple. You have to factor in the extra time it will take you to drive, and if staying for any extended period of time, the cost or savings of having to get a rental vehicle.
  • Stay flexible. It’s easy to find your dream vacation and do everything in your power to get it. But what if suddenly the prices double before you’ve had a chance to book? If you’re already emotionally committed, chances are you’ll chase the vacation, not the deal. Stay flexible and look for several alternatives at once to trick your brain into considering many options.
  • Compare, compare, compare. Almost nothing is as effective at cutting down costs as diligent and wide-cast research. This includes the Internet, family and friends, travel agents, and as many other people you can think of that have an opinion, experience, connections, or a unique angle of looking at things.
  • Plan way ahead, or practice patience. Buying tickets will generally be most cost-effective if done ahead of time. However, if you’re savvy, you can figure out when companies run special deals or packages to entice people to buy. Or wait until the last-minute if your vacation schedule is flexible to take advantage of great “last-minute deals.”
  • Find a way to share costs. If family and friends are part of your vacation, there are plenty of ways to share certain costs. For example, the cost of driving (while carpooling) becomes much more cost-effective than flying when multiple people are involved. Hotel costs are also reduced.
  • Home exchange. I can’t say I have been brave enough to try it, but if it’s good enough for The Holiday, can it be that scary? It’s certainly a worthy idea for extended vacations if you’re looking to completely cut out big hotel expenses. I would recommend finding a reputable service to use, and not doing it alone.

Whatever you decide, don’t forget to plan and save ahead, and use your vacation for its rightful purpose–relaxation!

Photo by mdanys

5 thoughts on “Ideas for Vacations in a Bad Economy

  1. Thanks for including home exchange as a great way to save money on a vacation. It’s not scarey at all if, as you so rightly advise, you arrange an exchange through a private members only, reputable home exchange service (i.e. where members have paid a small subscription fee and so are genuinely interested in swapping homes). Arranging a home exchange generally takes a few weeks, even months, and during this time you will be getting to know and trust your exchange partners (and they, you) so that by the time the exchange takes place, you should feel very comfortable about leaving your home in their care.

    For information on home exchange, please visit our blog, Travel the Home Exchange Way and, especially if you want to take advantage of the low value of the pound and visit the UK, check out the huge number of exchange offers in London and throughout the UK, Home Base Holidays.

    1. @Lois: Thanks – it’s definitely something I want to try out when vacation time becomes a little more flexible (and longer!). I think it’s amazing how you can stretch out a vacation with the same amount of money when you don’t have to worry about paying the hotel every day. Very exciting!

  2. If you’re considering a home exchange holiday, you should read our 66 Practical Home Exchange Tips article. It’s a complete guide to finding, arranging, and enjoying a perfect home exchange holiday.

    Aside from this article, you’ll also find several others as well as a couple of videos on home exchanging.

    This info should help remove any fears you may have about home exchanging.

    And once your ready to give this travel alternative a try, has over 16,000 home exchange listings in 130 countries to choose from.



  3. I am surprised you “don’t feel brave enough” to try Home Exchanging. In New Zealand, Home Exchanging definitely appeals to the upper income bracket and those who are well travelled. ie. people of substance often with substantial homes. It is a public misconception that Home Exchanging is ‘cheap’. We regard it as a uniquely different kind of holiday. NZ is a world class holiday destination and Home exchange visitors tend to spend a month or two months here and just for the cost of the airfare. What could be better?

    To reassure you even more HomeLink International is the only HE company to have offices in 28 countries around the World. On the rare occasion that there is a problem we offer complete support to our members. We are not new, we are the original and have been around since 1953.

    Have a look at

    1. @ValerieM: I did say I haven’t been brave enough, but I also said I’d love to try it! I would agree that I don’t believe home exchange is cheap, but even based on your comments, I think you would agree that it is less expensive than the alternatives for an extended vacation.

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