I’ve said repeatedly that the best way to feel flush when you travel is to land some place where your money is worth a whole lot more than it is at home. On a global scale there are plenty of places like that, especially in the clusters of Southeast Asia, Central America, and the Indian Subcontinent.
But if you’re trying to keep costs down by going somewhere in driving distance, there are probably plenty of worthwhile places to visit within a few hours of your home. I live in Nashville most of the year and have taken bargain family trips north (Lexington), West (Memphis and a state park nearby), East (Chattanooga), and this week, south to Huntsville.
I’ll upload some photos from Huntsville and talk about prices later, but when you visit a less-famous destination like this, there are bargains galore. You can get a room under $50 by picking up a hotel coupon at the “Welcome to Alabama” visitors’ center, you can find bargains on the likes of Expedia, or really score with Priceline or Hotwire. When we went to Chattanooga a few months back, I got a room at the Holiday Inn Chattanooga Choo Choo for $52 a night including fees and taxes. (Silly sounding place yes, but great for kids and in an orginal train station.) When I pulled up Hotwire just now for Huntsville there was one 2-1/2 star place with a pool for $39 a night.
You won’t find deals like this in Atlanta, Myrtle Beach, or D.C. usually. But if you go somewhere a little further off the tourist radar, you can vacation for far less. When hotels are cheaper, that usually means everything else is too, like museums, restaurants, and parking. (It’s 50 cents an hour at the parking garages here in Huntsville…)