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Cheap vacations can still be relaxing, fun and whatever else you want them to be. Unlike cars and shoes, vacations don't get better according to price. Give up that expensive resort if you don't have the money, but don't give up your vacation. Try one of the following ideas instead.
1. Visit your friends. The key here is to have friends with spare beds that live in interesting places. You've probably had friends tell you to come and stay a while, so why not take them up on it? I'm hoping my friends move to Hawaii.
2. Caretaking vacations. Someone in California, Costa Rica or Colorado wants you to stay in their house while they're away. You'll have to water the plants, and maybe watch the cat, but you'll get to stay in a beautiful home. You may even get paid. To learn more caretaking opportunities, visit the Caretaker Gazette online.
3. Outdoor vacations. Outdoor adventure doesn't need to be expensive. Just stay close to home, and use your imagination. On "Tom Sawyer Day" we hike up a river for hours, then build a raft from dead trees. Then we float on it back to the car. It's cheaper and more fun than a guided river trip. Where can you hike or bicycle for free?
4. Treasure hunting. Take a trip to a ghost town or beach with a metal detector. In Arizona an old Mayan Indian showed us where to find arrowheads, semi-precious stones, and ancient pottery. Treasure hunting is cheap, and you might find something valuable as well.
5. Cheap beach combing vacations. What's more relaxing than sitting on the beach with a drink? Restless? Start collecting seashells and driftwood. Bring a metal detector to find more valuable things. There are beaches in Florida where you can camp in your RV, and cheap motels on or near the beaches in Michigan.
6. Stay home. Make a list of sights to see, and things you've always wanted to do that are within an hour of home. Spend a weekend or a week checking off your list. No expensive hotels or long-distance drives.
7. Shopping trips. Cheap vacations don't normally involve shopping, but they can. Visit flea markets and rummage sales in some scenic corner of the country. Have a shopping adventure for less than a day at the mall.
8. Hotspring vacations. Hotsprings in many parts of the United States are free or inexpensive to use. Camp in an R.V. or tent to keep it really cheap. Spend nights around the campfire and days soaking in hot water. My personal favorite is a beautiful place in Arizona (106 degree water), with hiking trails. We paid the annual fee and stayed more than a week.
9. Greyhound bus travel. Taking the bus is an alternative to expensive gasoline if you're traveling alone, and the trip itself is sure to be an adventure. Pick a nice place within a day's ride, pack a bag and go.
10. Camping vacations. In Florida we stalked alligators and watched a dozen other forms of wildlife. Every night we sat around the fire with new friends from England and Texas. We escaped winter there for eight days in our van. There were hot showers, and the campground was free. Camping can be the cheapest of cheap vacations.
About the Author: Steve Gillman hit the road at sixteen, and traveled the U.S. and Mexico alone at 17. Now 42, he travels with his wife Ana, whom he met in Ecuador. For travel stories, tips and a free Travel Secrets e-book, visit: