Pinching Pennies? How to Plan a Killer Vacation When You’re Broke

Shenandoah National Park at the top of Old Rag Mountain, Virginia

This year started off with a bang! My husband and I put together the wedding of our dreams and bought everything that is needed for a legit first home together (we even have a couch and coffee table now). Needless to say, all the spending done at the beginning of the year has left us a bit tight for the remainder.

Now with summer here, we are itching for a vacation … but we’re broke.

We thought about our options and decided to utilize the area around our duty station to assemble a collection of “mini vacations” on a budget.

If you’re pinching pennies this summer, don’t think you have to sacrifice your fun. There are lots of great ways to piece together an awesome summer right where you live.

  1. Befriend the ITT Staff.

    Seriously, visit your leisure travel office/MWR. It’s a great way to get ideas of local options. The ticket offices have deals with outside vendors, companies, etc. to bring you discounted rates. You might be surprised on what they can offer too. It also doesn’t hurt to ask for their suggestions for your budget. This summer, my husband and I got tickets to our local Six Flags, which I didn’t know was so close– and I’m pretty pumped!

  2. Get Outdoors.

    Plan a trip to a U.S. National Park. Did you know that active duty military families receive free admission? Our country has so much beauty to offer and you can’t miss the opportunity to explore your nearest National Park. Thanks to the military, I have been able to visit the Grand Canyon when my husband was TDY in Arizona and to climb the Old Rag Mountain Summit in Virginia. We plan on spending more time at our local National Park in July.

    Shenandoah National Park at the top of Old Rag Mountain, Virginia
    Shenandoah National Park at the top of Old Rag Mountain, Virginia
  3. Get Inside.

    Educate yourself at your nearest museum. Blue Star Families kicked off another summer of their Blue Star Museums program. Last year, I was able to visit lots of great New York City museums. It got me hooked! With my husband back from his tour, we’re scheduling day trips to visit local participating museums.

  4. Splurge for One Night.

    Wiggle in a weekend to indulge at a hotel that offers a military discount. My husband and I just booked a weekend trip to Virginia Beach at a local hotel that offers a military appreciation rate. Start with finding a destination that is reasonably driveable (Virginia Beach is about 4 hours away from us) that offers the kind of activities you want. Our priorities were a beach and decent boardwalk. That’s the main reason we picked Virginia Beach…also we’ve both never been to Virginia Beach.

Do you have any great tips for families on a budget this summer? Share them in our comments section.



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