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For many Americans, this will be the first summer that comes with holiday plans before the pandemic begins. Whether your idea of summer fun includes surfing and sanding, remote wilderness, the big city or something in between, it’s probably safe to say that your budget will determine your route.
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The following guide will help you increase your dollars no matter what comes to mind when thinking about summer vacation. If you are planning a vacation for June, July or August, see how you can relax even on a tight budget.
Outdoor enthusiasts: Plan your vacation around the national parks
America’s more than 400 national parks offer affordable access to some of the most beautiful and historic natural paradises in the country and in the world. Whether camping or staying locally, you can visit many parks in just a few days in most parts of the country – and the National Park Service offers a few ways to save while exploring.
- For $ 80 a year, America the Beautiful Land Pass gives you unlimited access to 2,000 federal recreation areas, including more than 400 parks, as well as national wildlife sanctuaries, grasslands, national forests and lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management . Bureau of Reclamation and US Army Corps of Engineers. A pass covers an entire vehicle of persons in parking spaces per vehicle or up to four adults otherwise. Children under 15 are free.
- For seniors, an annual pass costs $ 20 and a lifetime pass costs $ 80. There are also discounts for military personnel, fourth graders, people with disabilities and other groups.
- The park system hosts free admission days all year round, including one in August.
Urban Vacationers: Book your stay with free festivals in mind
If the sidewalk and crowds are larger than Yellowstone and Yosemite, keep in mind that almost every medium to large city in the country hosts free festivals, concerts and other outdoor events throughout the summer. If you have in mind a city for your summer travels, just browse its event calendar to combine your trip with free events to suit your style.
Here are just a few of the top free summer events in America’s largest cities – there are literally hundreds more.
- New York hosts the Free Summer Concerts series at some of the city’s most iconic parks throughout the season.
- The Chicago Gospel Music Festival, Chicago Blues Festival, and Millennium Park Summer Music Series run in Windy City all summer long – and they’re all free.
- In Los Angeles, KCRW Summer Nights hosts city-wide concerts throughout the season. Twilight on the Pier takes place in Santa Monica and Farmers Market Friday Night Music is a family series – and these are just some of the many free summer events in the city.
Traveling internationally? Visit off-season destinations
Some of the top destinations in the world are half empty and underpriced during these off-seasons – and for some of the hottest places to travel on Earth, this season is summer. Off-seasoners are out of season for a reason, and that reason usually has to do with the weather.
In much of Southeast Asia, for example, summer is the rainy season – there is a good chance the monsoons will wash away your vacation. But there is also a good chance, according to the travel magazine Days to Come, that you will find gift prices, open access and light crowds with only moderate rain to shorten your adventure.
Bangkok, Northern Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia welcome visitors in their off-season from May to autumn.
According to Days to Come, you can also try these sites, which have some or all of them out of season in the summer:
- the Caribbean
- New Zealand
Life is a beach – Especially when the beach is free
Across the 95,471 mile coastline of America, there are two types of beaches. There is the kind that you have to pay to enjoy, and then there is the free kind.
On the busy, crowded and expensive island of Ocean City, NJ, for example, a daily beach tag costs $ 5, a weekly beach tag costs $ 10, and a seasonal card costs $ 25 – $ 20 if purchased before the end of May. The neighboring island of Strathmere, on the other hand, is famous for not being famous – its beaches are long, clean, uninhabited and free to enjoy.
The same story unfolds across the country – and for you this summer, it’s all about finding your little bit of free coastline.
The EPA maintains a giant database called the National List of Beaches, which you can use to search for individual sites, but the easiest option is to simply Google the state you plan to visit along with the “free beaches”.
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