With summer being in full swing and finally being released from our homes following the shut-down, it’s a safe bet to assume most of us have vacation on the brain. However, if you’re someone like me who has suddenly found yourself back on a strict budget, those travel dreams might seem pretty far-fetched. It is possible to get away without breaking the bank, and here I’ll throw out some ideas I’ve found to fit almost every bank account.
If you’re someone who simply must have their toes in the sand to justify a vacation day, you’re in luck. We live right between two airports who offer direct Allegiant flights for less than $100 each way. I personally just came home from a long weekend in Clearwater Beach, FL. Flying from Asheville straight into Clearwater was a mere $33 each way and the flight was less than an hour and a half long. That is far better than driving, from both a time and economic standpoint. Allegiant flies to many great places in Florida including Orlando, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach to name a few. To save yourself some more cash, consider booking an Air BnB with a fully equipped kitchen. Those dinners and drinks out on the town can really add up, so cooking most of your meals in or blending up your own batch of cocktails to enjoy on the beach is a great way to slash your costs. Also be sure to ask the locals where they like to go. By avoiding the tourist traps and exploring a bit off the beaten path, you’ll not only probably have a better experience, but you’ll save on the inflated pricing that targets out of state visitors.
If you’re not committed to a sandy escape, there are plenty of other options to explore within a short 5 hour drive. Head over to Charlotte for some big city fun, but be sure to call ahead and ensure the things on your itinerary are available due to Covid-19 guidelines. Charlotte has great rooftops, dining and shopping and is a mere 3 hours away. Or you could drive down to my second home in Nashville. From a personal standpoint I can attest that we are up and running and happy to see people. Most hotels/Air BnB’s are offering deeply discounted rates right now so you can get a great deal on otherwise very expensive accommodations. There is always music to be heard in the city, there are new restaurants opening daily and the pedal taverns and party busses are a cool way to have your own Covid-friendly fun while bringing your own booze. Venture outside of the city and stroll along the historic streets of downtown Franklin or fish along the Harpeth. Again I would advise making plans ahead of time, but for the most part, everything is open around these parts.
If you can’t afford a long time away, a weekend in the woods might be just the ticket. Is there anything better than grabbing a group of friends and a cabin with a hot tub? These places when split between several people are very affordable. You can cook meals, play games, and soak in the tub as well as exploring hiking trails or just plain old relaxing in a rocking chair on the porch. Gatlinburg is the most obvious area to check for these places, but even the mountains of western North Carolina are teeming with tucked away log treasures.
If you only have time for an overnight stay, you also have options right in your own backyard. If you want to go frugal, grab a tent and spend a night under the stars at a campsite along Watauga Lake. You can spend the day swimming and hiking and dry by the fire at night while roasting weenies and marshmallows. If you want to blow it out though, consider a night of indulgence at Carnegie or Bristol Hotel. Book a massage at the spa and dinner in the restaurant and wind down with a bath in your suite in the evening. Or if the company you’re keeping is good enough, don’t leave the king sized bed at all and just order room service.
These are obviously crazy times we’re living in, so it’s a bit hard to provide travel suggestions when we just don’t know how things are going to change from day to day. Always do your research ahead of time and know your budget. Have a backup plan in case things change. But for your own sanity, get out and give your brain a break from the stress. Travel is such a gift and one you should treat yourself to as much as possible. Happy holiday-ing!!