summer vacation planning when broke


When you are young and just getting started, a week long summer vacation may not seem possible. With proper budgeting (read BUDGETING FOR BEGINNERS here) and planning, anything is possible.


This past week our world has seen a major heat wave which has been a bit unbearable and made me glad that I have NOT had any outdoor activities planned, but my annual beach trip with my nanny family is coming up soon and I started thinking about how much I need to prepare. Quite honestly, if I wasn’t going as part of my job, I probably wouldn’t be going at all. Finding the time and money to plan a vacation during any time of the year can be hard when you are struggling to make ends meet or can’t get enough time off of work for the vacation of your dreams. My family has been talking about taking our own beach trip for YEARS, but not all of us are financially stable enough to drop thousands on a beach house (the biggest hurdle) or take any time off work, much less enough to actually enjoy the trip.


This got me thinking about how my husband and I currently “vacation.” We always take one annual long weekend trip to visit some friends in Asheville, North Carolina (if you haven’t been, you should put it on your bucket list. It’s an amazingly fun area with things for any type of person to enjoy). Usually this takes place in June. It’s about a 9 hour drive for us and we try to stay for at least 3 days. I don’t get vacation time as a nanny, so I usually need to work a little that week to get paid.

After our Asheville trip, we like to try to plan another weekend trip later on in the summer. With summer time being peak time for most places, it is hard to justify the expense for only a weekend. But, as I am sure you have experienced, sometimes you just NEED to find a way to get away, relax, and spend time away from work and responsibilities.


  1. Plan a budget: If you haven’t already created a budget, check out my post on Budgeting for Beginners. The main thing when planning a budget is to plan for the fun things you want to do. You won’t know if you can afford to take ANY vacation until you have budgeted and tracked your expenses ( CLICK HERE TO LEARN HOW). Once you have done this, you can make a plan by budgeting in your vacation. Create a category for yourself in advance to anticipate how much you are going to need for the whole vacation and see if this fits into your budget. Play around with the numbers until you are comfortable with an amount.
  2. Start saving early: The most important part of planning any vacation is planning. Once you are comfortable with a certain amount to spend, start saving money in a SINKING FUND. (Learn more about SINKING FUNDS here). This is an easy way to save a little over a period of time and have enough saved up by the time you pay for your vacation.
  3. Research: Most of us would love a Caribbean beach vacation, but let’s be realistic. While that is a dream for your long term goals, right now it isn’t worth it to go broke for a vacation. Set your goals to work toward that later on in life when you are more financially stable and you will enjoy it much more. For now, start by looking in your own area for fun things to do. I don’t necessarily mean in your hometown, although staycations are all the rage and it can be fun to explore the “touristy” things to do in your area. But look at things that are a few hours away from you that you have never done (or maybe never knew about). I only live a few hours from Lake Erie in Pennsylvania, for example, and while looking for the closest beach vacations, I found out that Lake Erie has nice sandy beaches and a lot of things to do. Because it is so close, I won’t feel like I am missing out on anything by only going for a few days AND we could probably visit several times a year. This was our plan this year, but unfortunately my daughter started a new job (that isn’t unfortunate!) and can’t get that weekend off! But we are still planning to go soon! New York is also only a few hours away, we have gone to Niagara Falls for a weekend and NYC. We have some friends who live near the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, which we have yet to visit but is on the list, and is something I didn’t even know existed! You may be amazed at the fun stuff you can plan that are only a few hours a way. Just do a little research.
  4. Online Deals: Sites like Groupon, Expedia, and others may offer you deals to places you are wanting to go or give you some ideas of places you can afford. On Groupon, for example, you can actually search for travel within 1-4 hours of where you live and see all the great deals for places you haven’t thought of. They also offer deals on cruises, if you are someone who likes that sort of thing, and exotic locales. Make sure you read ALL of the fine print, as there may be exclusions, date restrictions, and cancellation policies you need to be aware of. Our Niagara Falls trip was with a Groupon and it was nice! It was off season, so it wasn’t busy, but it was still lovely with lots of things to do AND we got free meal coupons, free parking, and other amenities that made out trip extra fun!
  5. Share a vacation: Vacations are usually fun with a group, especially when you are young! If you are able to get enough time off, look into renting a beach house or condo with several friends to split the cost. Make sure you are planning your trip with trustworthy people who will pay their share and help out with the costs once you are there. If you have a place with a kitchen, have each person be in charge of planning one meal, bring your own drinks and snacks, look for cheap things to do while you are there and remember, if you are at the beach most of the time, you aren’t spending money! Only do this with people who won’t cause drama, who will pay their share, and who you know well.

These are my 5 summer vacation planning tips for when you have no money. We have all been there, and just because we are struggling to make ends meet, doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to have some fun. If anything, we are probably more stressed out and need our vacations more! Just plan ahead and make sure you don’t go broke going on a vacation.

Let me know in the comments what you do for vacation when you have no money or no time off. Please like and follow Being Grown Up on Instagram, Facebook, and for podcasts (or search Being Grown Up on your favorite podcast subscriber). Thanks as always for your support XOXO

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