Six Cheap Ways to Travel This Summer

Golden Gate Bridge in the fog (Photo: Carl Unger)
by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on June 8, 2009. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: adventure travel, bed and breakfast, BedandBreakfast.com, BnBFinder.com, camping, destination, family travel, farm, Hilton, hostel, hotel, Kate Hamman and Carl Unger, La Quinta, Las Vegas, New York City, Pennsylvania, road trip, student travel, summer, TripAdvisor, United States, vacation package, Vermont, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts.

As the summer heats up, you may be wondering what type of vacation you can afford. We've gathered a number of fun and unique ways to travel cheap, from camping to hostels, road trips to farm stays.

Road Trips

With airlines adding more and more fees while simultaneously taking away the few creature comforts of flying, many people are skipping the skies and getting behind the wheel. Plus, compared to a flight, it may be more economical to drive for this year's vacation.

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The first step in figuring out the cost of a road trip is calculating the price of gas. Fuel costs are significantly lower this year. At press time, the average price of gas was about $2.50 per gallon, compared to nearly $4 per gallon last June.

Several websites offer gas calculators, which will help you determine a budget for the price of fuel. For example, AAA has the option to calculate costs based on your vehicle's year, make, and model to help determine overall fuel expenses. Mapquest will allow you to plot your course while figuring out prices.

If you're still unsure whether you will save by driving versus flying, you can always compare the cost. For instance, we priced a round-trip flight to Chicago from Boston that costs about $211 per person (with taxes and fees) for travel in June, while it will cost about $145 to drive round trip in a 2007 Nissan Versa. Granted, the flight will have you at your destination in a few hours versus the 16 hours of driving time, but you have to decide if your time really is money.

Next, you'll want to factor in the cost of lodging. Since we don't recommend sleeping in your car to save on cash, we've come up with a few alternatives. You can opt to camp (see the following section), be spontaneous and stay at motels that offer the right place in the right location, or book ahead of time and save with specials or promotions. The latter requires a bit more research, but may help you avoid dirt cheap or roach motels (literally).

A few places to find deals tailored to road trips are BnBFinder.com and BedandBreakfast.com. Both websites offer B&B listings that include free perks such as gas vouchers, dinners, or extra nights.

You can also find deals at chain hotels such as Wyndham Hotel and Resorts, La Quinta, or Hilton.

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