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7 Ways to Avoid Budget-Burning Vacations This Summer

A sunburned man whines while sitting on the beach.

Find a hot vacation destination without burning up your time or budget.

Summer is just around the corner. Have you planned your summer vacation yet? Do you know where you'll go or what you'll do? More importantly, are you worried about what your vacation might do to your bank account if you don't have it all planned out ahead of time?

Further Reading: Career-Boosting Summer Activities for Teachers

Don't be worried. Summer vacations for teachers don't need to be complicated, exhausting, or lavish. They just need to provide some well-deserved R&R to celebrate the passing of another school year. And you'd be surprised at how many things you can book last minute.

Here are some vacation ideas for teachers who want to make the most of their summer break without breaking a sweat—or the bank.

1. Camp in a National or State Park

Health magazine confirms what many of us know intuitively: nature is relaxing. So maybe the simplest way to kick your summer vacation off right is to get out into the great outdoors. A national or state park is the perfect place to do that.

There are tens of thousands of national and state parks in the United States, and most of them are particularly attractive camping options because they're beautiful, easy to find, and free—or at least cheap. Check the National Park Service website or your state's website to find a park near you. State and national parks are chock-full of information about the local terrain and indigenous flora and fauna, too, so your trip can become a learning experience, if you're so inclined.

And if the relative luxury of car camping sounds better than roughing it in the woods, that's fine—you proved your mettle enough during the school year.

2. Reconnect with Your Hobby

Who has time for a hobby during the school year? When school's in session, your hobbies are showering, planning lessons, and making sure your coffee cup is always filled to the brim.

So kill two birds with one stone over your summer break: devote a spontaneous trip to reconnecting with your favorite hobby. Love a certain sport? Buy tickets to a game within driving distance. Love photography? Plan an overnight trip to somewhere scenic. Attend a workshop or retreat. Your options are seemingly endless, and whatever you choose doesn't have to be expensive or require significant planning.

Reconnecting with your hobby is a great way to avoid burnout after another school year. It's easy to do without an itinerary or a huge budget, and it promotes the idea that you're a lifelong learner, which sets a good example for your students.

3. Do Something Unique

Sometimes, off-the-wall vacation ideas are the most memorable. And just because they're unique doesn't mean you can't do them with little or no planning.

For example, you might be surprised at the number of yurt camping options and locales there are near you. Yurts come in all different sizes and require little to no set-up time. They're a great way to commune with nature without needing to plan too much ahead of time. If offbeat outdoor accommodations sound fun, maybe you'll be up for staying in a treehouse hotel, too.

Which story would you rather tell your students: "I went camping" or "I slept in a treehouse for five days"?

Other unique spontaneous trips ideas include:

  • Visiting the location of your favorite book.
  • Being a tourist in your own city.
  • Exploring a new country or region by petsitting or housesitting. Plenty of sites, like TrustedHouseSitters, connect you with people all over the world. You might even get paid!

Budget Travel Tips for Teachers

Planning travel on a budget this summer? Here are four ways for teachers to squirrel away some money for an impromptu summer trip.

1. Auto-Save Each Month

Make saving for vacation a habit by setting aside a small portion of each month's paycheck to spend on travel. Even on a new teacher's salary, you could save $400 for vacation by saving just 1 percent of your earnings.

2. Subscribe and Save

There are tons of money-saving apps out there to feed your wanderlust on a moment's notice. If you're looking to travel this summer, these may be worth the subscription or download:

  • Hopper: Hopper predicts hotel and flight prices. You can set alerts for sudden price drops to help you save some money on a last-minute (or spontaneous) flight.
  • Skyscanner: The Skyscanner app finds cheap flights, hotels, and car rentals linked to more than 1,000 travel companies.
  • AirBnB: AirBnB listings tend to be cheaper than hotels, and they're typically in parts of town where you can make new friends with the locals.

All these apps make going on trips (or meeting new friends) possible without much planning.

3. Do Your Research

Nearly every major U.S. city offers free events for tourists. Keep an eye out free walking tours, meet-ups, museum visits, and pub crawls. Most of the time, all you'll have to cover is the cost of getting there.

4. Get the School to Chip In

If you're planning an educational trip, it can't hurt to ask your boss if you can get reimbursed for part or all of it. You might have to explain that you can parse the trip into teachable moments, but that's easily worth it for a comped getaway.

Further Reading: 3 Ways to Score Discounted Summer Travel for Teachers

Get Away This Summer

The best summer vacations for teachers don't have to be complex, planned months ahead of time, or expensive. Get creative and find a way to give yourself some rest and relaxation this summer. You deserve it!