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Practical Ideas for Taking a Cheap Vacation

There are plenty of little ways to reduce stress and anxiety for free. It's important to work these into your day to help stay sane, focused, healthy, and happy. But sometimes, it gets to the point where you need to get away, even if it's just for a day or two.

There's nothing quite like a vacation for decompressing and restoring your mental and emotional well-being. When the budget is really tight, though, a getaway often seems impossible.

Fortunately, there are ways to pull it off that really don't require spending much money. Below are some ideas for taking a cheap vacation that can make it possible to treat yourself (and your family) even when you don't have much cash on hand.

How to Save Money on a Vacation

  • Find an affordable local hotel room for a night or two for a staycation without any travel costs (this is easiest if you do it at off-peak travel times); explore your own city, order room service or pizza, soak in the tub, and simply enjoy the change of scene.

  • Check Hotel Tonight for deals on accommodations when you want to have a staycation.

  • Travel during off-peak times rather than in the summer or around spring break or winter holidays when you can find great deals; if you can manage it, go during the week instead of on the weekend, too, for lower rates.

  • Skip the leading tourist destinations and find a quieter, less in-demand location for lower rates and smaller crowds.

  • Find a cheap place to stay on a site like AirbnbCouchsurfing, or HomeAway instead of booking a hotel room.

  • Go camping; all you need is some basic gear, or find low-cost furnished cabin rentals at campgrounds or cheap RV rentals on Airbnb (and the RV will already be on-site and set up, so you don't even have to drive it or know how to hook it up).

  • Head somewhere where you can stay with family or friends instead of paying for lodgings (and you'll save on food costs, too).

  • Stay in lodgings where you can prepare your own meals cheaply, rather than eating out at restaurants.

  • Keep in mind that even a day trip can be as much fun-and as restorative-as a multi-day vacation, so don't overlook short nearby getaways that don't require a hotel stay, lots of gas money, or airfare.

  • Check for last-minute vacation deals on Groupon and Expedia.