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Women Travel: You want to go on a girls’ vacation, but money’s tight. So how do you take a well-earned break with your besties without spending too much? As a gal who loves to travel and is used to doing it on a shoestring budget, I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve…
1. Hot springs swimmin’
Ever had a vision of yourself at a fancy spa, cucumbers on your eyes and towel round your head, one attendant giving you a manicure and the other a foot massage? Ever then see your bank balance and perform a very swift reality check?
Well, there’s more than one way to spa bliss: instead of bankrupting yourself on a rich ladies’ “wellness retreat,” discover the amazingness that is natural hot springs. Taking a dip out in the open in mineral-rich, bubbly hot waters for free, no less, is a totally invigorating experience. Public hot springs are dotted across the US – notably at Deep Creek in San Bernardino National Forest, California and Thermopolis, Wyoming.
2. DIY food tour
A traditional food or wine tour goes as so: a winding route, taken by car at the traveller’s leisure with stop-offs at notable food producers/vineyards of the area, to satisfy a chosen taste (think Napa Valley wine tours). The motive is understandably pleasurable, but it can seem like a decadent use of petrol and money in tougher times.
If you want to copy the food tour model on a smaller budget, ask yourself: what’s my favourite food, and where is it done best? Pick an affordable street food and use it as a basis for exploring a chosen city. Whether it’s a pizza tour of New York or BBQ in Kansas City, you and your girlfriends will get a local foodie’s-eye view of the place, and are guaranteed to share some great meals together – a sure-fire recipe for fun.
3. Work a festival
If you’ve never been before, music festivals can look like a cheap way to spend a long weekend with your buds – you’re not leaving the country, you’re most likely camping rather than getting a hotel and you can even bring your own food and booze, right? Well, while this is true, festival tickets themselves are expensive (Coachella this year is $285), and security often don’t let your own food and drink into the performance arena, leaving you to shell out for heinously expensive beers and burgers while inside.
Working a festival negates the problem – you get free entry in exchange for a few hours’ work per day of the event, plus you get paid. You’ll also at least get to see some of your favourite acts for free. Scan jobs websites in late winter and early spring for job notices for the summer festivals – positions include bar staff, programme sellers and merch sales.
4. Tourist for a Day
Ok – what if you’re so completely flat broke you can’t afford the transport to reach your dream destination, let alone a hotel and spending money once you’re there? What if you honestly can’t afford to leave home right now? Don’t despair, you’ve one option left: be a tourist in your own town. This isn’t lame – it’s much smarter to admit your limits rather than whack a holiday you can’t afford on a credit card and sink yourself in debt.
Take a weekend, or even better a few days off work in the week (less other tourists around to get in your way!), grab your best friend and explore town together with new eyes. As a Londoner, I can think of plenty of things that I’ve never got round to doing, but would try out first if I let myself be a tourist. Go for a ride on the London Eye. See the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. Take Afternoon Tea at the Ritz, that kind of thing. When I think about it, it surprises me that I haven’t done any of this already! So – what would you do?
Author bio: HostelBookers.com is a travel booking company providing cheap accommodation all over the world, from the USA to Europe (including cheap hotels in Los Angeles)
photo from LarryJOneil.com