Samantha Brown's Genius Solution To Traveling On A Shoestring Budget

Are your travel plans bigger than your budget? It's a problem we all deal with at some point — if not all the time. Travel can be expensive, and you might not have the funds to take a flight to Europe or Asia right now, let alone pay for hotel rooms and dining out every night. That doesn't mean you should forgo all the joys of travel because you can't make it to your bucket list destination just yet. 


Travel expert Samantha Brown has a solution for getting out and about when you can't go that far away. Brown recommends traveling within your own state. In fact, she told The Points Guy that it's something she did when her kids were babies to keep things easy. Depending on the size of your state, you're likely within driving distance of some wonderful spots, from local monuments to state and national parks, state fairs, or a place where the flowers are said to be spectacular in a certain season. 

If Europe is your dream, you can visit American towns with a European feel, like St. Augustine in Florida, which has the flavor of Spain, or Solvang, California, which looks and feels just like Denmark. You can even find ethnic neighborhoods in your local city, like "Little Italy" in downtown Manhattan or San Francisco's Chinatown, where you can get a taste of another country. Travel isn't just about distance, after all. 


Samantha Brown's tips for traveling locally

One tip Brown has for us is taking a day trip, which negates the need to pay for accommodation. You might feel like you've been there, done that in your state, but there is so much to do in each one that you can always find something new. Brown says on her website, "The key to day trips is that they should not be overthought or over-planned. You really only want to pick one big must-do and then find a place for lunch or dinner, depending on how long you'll be out. Throw in some downtown shopping to seek out cool small businesses, and that's really it." Maybe there is something nearby that you've passed a dozen times but never stopped at, or a new restaurant or attraction opening up. Why not try it out on a weekend? 


If one day isn't enough and you really want to feel like you're on vacation, Brown suggests looking up "best places to live" in your state. She says you'll likely find fun things to do there, as liveable places tend to shine with community initiatives and creative spirit. Other things to look up are forests, trails, and parks you might want to check out nearby or local festivals that are on the horizon. What about your state fair? It's a great place to take the kids or the perfect spot for a romantic couple's adventure where you try to win each other a stuffed animal.

Other travel tips for venturing out on a budget

While vacationing in your own state, don't just visit the usual suspects. Have you ever been kayaking? Look for lessons on the local river or lake. Sign up for a yoga class in your destination town and ask the students where they like to eat. Stop by a local outdoor supply store and ask if they have nature walks or hiking groups you could join. Interact! Brown suggests talking to a nighttime security guard for breakfast recommendations, saying, "If you're out late at a restaurant or bar and spot one, ask for his or her advice. A good breakfast will be the most inexpensive way to fill up for less, grab a light lunch and then splurge on dinner." She also suggests packing budget-friendly snacks to prevent getting hangry on your road trip.


If you live in a state with a national park, check the National Park Service website to find which ones have free entry, while camping is another vacation idea that can be great on a shoestring budget. Many local town parks have events like free summer concerts, fireworks, or silent discos. You can also look up which museums in your area and state have free admission, whether daily, like Los Angeles's Getty Museum and Getty Villa (though you do have to pay to park), or on specific days of the month. The possibilities are endless, and the budget can remain intact.