3 budget-friendly vacation destinations

Everyone needs a vacation throughout the year.

But not everyone can find the time or money to take a trip. Short weekend getaways are relaxing throughout the year, but an extended trip where you're away from the office for a week or more can also help you recharge. Longer trips are also great to plan if you're looking to cross certain destinations off of your bucket list.

Yet, money plays an important role when deciding where you want to visit. You can't just pick a place and put all of the expenses on a credit card. While you want to enjoy some time off with your family and friends, you also don't want to come back home to a mountain of debt.

With the summer travel season coming to an official end after Labor Day, here are some destinations that are budget-friendly and where you'll still have an enjoyable time.

Yellowstone

U.S. News & World Report named Yellowstone National Park as its most affordable travel destination. Most of wilderness recreation area is located in the state of Wyoming while also extending into parts of Idaho and Montana. 

Nature lovers will undoubtedly enjoy the sights and sounds of the wilderness of the 3,500 square miles national park. The park attracts just over 3 million visitors every year, and there are numerous activities you can take part in. Just remember to pack a good pair of hiking shoes.

Among the list of activities you can put together is a visit to Yellowstone Lake or a stop by the Mammoth Hot Springs. Additional things to do at Yellowstone include:

  • Backpacking
  • Hiking
  • Climbing
  • Biking
  • Fishing
  • Golfing

To save even more money on the trip, consider going with a sizeable group and packing enough food and snacks for the duration of your trip. By bringing a tent and the necessary sleeping materials, you can also cut expenses by not having to stay at a lodge.

Visit the nation's capital

Washington D.C. is buzzing as the 2016 presidential election kicks into high gear, but you don't have to wait every four years to visit the area.

While Washington D.C. is considered an expensive place to live year-round, it doesn't make for an expensive trip because of the numerous activities and places to visit for free. But first you'll need a place to stay, and assuming you don't know anyone well enough to sleep on their couch, you may want to consider looking for hotels outside of the immediate city or seeing what is available on popular home share services.

"D.C. is an affordable option because numerous museums don't cost a penny."

D.C. is an affordable option because numerous museums don't cost a penny, or have select free admission days. The collection of the Smithsonians - which includes the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum and many more - are all located on or near the Washington Mall. Others, such as Newseum, may occasionally offer a day of free admission. You can easily plan an entire day around visiting museums.

Other fun activities include taking a stroll through the National Zoo, which is also free, and visiting some of the most historic monuments in American history. Areas to put on your checklist include:

  • Lincoln, MLK and Jefferson Memorials
  • The Washington Monument
  • National Archives
  • U.S. Capitol Building, where you can sit in on a House of Representatives or Senate session

Taking a stroll along the Tidal Basin will allow you to walk past and visit whatever you wish to see.

To make the trip to D.C. even more budget friendly, try to stick to public transportation options as taxi cabs can be expensive, not to mention you might have to sit through traffic. Try to avoid buying food or souvenirs from street vendors, as they typically overcharge.

Take a trip down south

If you're looking for an affordable way to bask in Southern hospitality, look no further than Nashville, Tennessee. The city has grown in popularity in recent years and is known for its mix of live music, delicious food and pleasant weather.

To make the trip even more affordable, try heading there in the winter months when hotel prices decline. You'll still be able to enjoy everything the city has to offer, even with the cooler temperatures.

If you've been collecting vacation days, there's no better way to use them than on trips that will provide fun and relaxation without breaking the wallet.

For more information about smart ways to manage your finances, contact Landmark Bank.

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