Feels like taboo, huh?

Back in March, when life and everything got cancelled, something very close to my heart was cancelled as well. Our trip to Italy. We had been planning THE DREAM TRIP to Italy for nearly a year. We had the PERFECT hotel near the Fontana di Trevi in Rome. We had plans to see my family who live in Latina (just an hour outside of Rome), we were going to the colosseum and Pompeii. WE WERE SO EXCITED… and then BOOM, CRASH, ZOINK.

It was all ripped away.

Dramatic, I know. But, hindsight is always 20/20… and thinking back, I’m so glad everything was shut down a month before our departure date. Because we were able to get back most of the money we had spent on hotels, airfare, etc. There was only one thing that was nonrefundable and that was the fees through the booking service. All in all we only lost about $300 of a $5,000 trip – pretty damn lucky, if I say so myself!

I also believe we are SO lucky in that the shut down did not happen while we were IN ITALY. I mean lowkey would have LOVED to be stuck in Italy for months on end… hell I’d live there forever id I could have had all my furbabies! But, alas, that is just a pipedream and I’m so thankful we did NOT get stuck overseas during a pandemic.

OKAY, WE GET IT YOU DIDN’T GET TO GO ON YOUR TRIP… TELL US HOW TO SAFELY TRAVEL DURING A PANDEMIC…

I promise, I’m getting there.

First, set your budget.

Times are TOUGH and budgets are TIGHT. But, I’m here to help you! Because I’m a budget Queen (mostly it’s Devin, he’s the budget King, fo’ sho’.) I’m here to tell you that you can in fact go on a fun and safe trip during the time of COVID all while sticking to a budget!

use these tips when setting your budget:
  • Set up a meeting with your partner or significant other. (This may be the most important step!)
  • Think about how much you are willing to spend on the trip.
  • Depending on how much you’re willing to spend will give you a guideline for how many days you can afford to travel for.
  • Once you have your budget and number of days for a trip determined, next is the super fun part!

To make this easy to understand – lets start with an example of 1,500 for a 5 day trip. That seems impossible, right? WRONG! It’s totally doable if you plan accordingly!

Where do you want to go? Lots of people (and families) are moving towards road trips since it seems safer than flying on a plane with lots of people you don’t know. A road trip can be so much fun and economical! WIN, WIN!

Choose Your Destination

First, think about all the activities you want to do. Weather permitting, outdoor is the safest and typically least expensive option.

For this example, I’m going to use Salt Lake City. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to visit and I’m currently working on planning a trip for next year, so this post serves a few purposes!

  • Visit a National Park
  • Hike
  • Mountain (or scenic) bike ride
  • Visit a Historic District
  • Visit a vintage or antique shop
  • Kayak, Paddleboard or other Water Sport

Now you have your list of things you want to do, great! You’re one step closer to having an amazing experience. Next, you’ll need to rank them and pick your top 3-4 so that you don’t get too overwhelmed with planning too many things that you don’t end up doing.

So my top things are, 1. Visit a National Park, 2. Hike a really nice trail with great views and 3. Mountain Bike.

Most National Parks have a fee for entry. It is usually not cheap, about $20+ per car. But, the one National Park I visited was 100% worth every single penny. And, the fee keeps people employed and our parks beautiful and preserved.

  1. National Park – $25 per vehicle – or check out the annual passes if you plan to visit more than two national parks.
  2. Hike – FREE
  3. Kayaking – $65/day + taxes

Don’t forget to budget for meals, gas, additional activities and fees that may come up and always set a little money aside for a keepsake.

  • Meals: plan for $100 per day – below I will show you how we stay on budget for meals
  • Activities: $150
  • Gas: $350-400
  • Rental/Cabins: $350*
  • Extra: $150
  • Total: $1,500

In order to make this budget work for a 5 day trip, you’ll really have to think of your priorities. *We’ve found that camping is often free (or very cheap) all over the country and that really helps save money on your rental/hotel fees. If you don’t want to camp or don’t have the items to camp – try asking your friends or family. As long as you have the basics, you will be set! If you just cannot or don’t want to camp, I’m going to link to a few places below that will help you find cheap/cool/unique rentals and cabins.

Now that we have a budget, location and list of activities – let’s put it all together!

Plan your itinerary

This part totally depends on you and your family. I prefer loose and easy-going itineraries so that if something comes up or takes longer than anticipated, I don’t feel overwhelmed or let down.

We love to leave really early for road trips so that we can get the boring part out of the way. Here is a sample timeline of when to leave to make the most of your trip!

Day 1

  • 5 AM – Head to Salt Lake City
  • 11 AM – Arrive in SLC and find a sweet café or brunch spot
  • 11-12 PM – Sit down for coffee and a bite to eat
  • 12-2 PM – Check out the downtown area, “window shop” (my fav!), and relax after being cooped up in a car all morning.
  • 3-4 PM – Head to campsite – I’ll explain more in this post on how to choose a campsite
  • 4-6 PM – Set up camp and get ready to cook dinner
  • 6-9 PM – Dinner and hang out by the campfire (if permitted)
  • 9 PM – S’mores and stargazing
  • 9:30-10 PM – Off to bed for an early start

Day 2

  • 6 AM – Wake up + Coffee time
  • 7 AM – Pack up what you need for the day trip (hiking supplies, water bottles, sunscreen, etc. Most campsites are safe and people leave there items without any harm but make sure you don’t leave any food or valuables!) *Don’t forget to pack your lunch!
  • 8 AM – Arrive at hiking location – I chose Dry Gulch it’s close to SLC and rated well on All Trails (the trails app I use for everything!)
  • 8-11 AM – Hike, enjoy the views, take all the photos you can.
  • 11-11:30 – Take a lunch break and soak up the views.
  • 11:30-1 PM – Hike back to your car.
  • 1-4 PM – Head over to the Red Butte Gardens it’s only $14 per person and you get to walk through gorgeous gardens while learning about water conservation and more.
  • 4-6 PM – Go back to your camp site (or cabin) and relax! Remember, this is supposed to be a vacation. You should take plenty of time to relax and reflect.
  • 6 PM – Dinner at Campsite – or option to head into town and enjoy a some local fare.
  • 8-9 PM – Hang out by the campfire and settle in for the night.
  • 9:30-10 PM – Off to bed!

I hope these two days give you a good head start to making your own personalized itinerary. Of course, just insert whatever activity you’re planning and adjust the times accordingly.

Now that you have your budget, destination and itinerary, you’re all set! All you need to do now is pick a date (consider the seasons, when things begin to close and when it is safest to travel) and you can start planning now.

Resources

I told you I would give you a little more detail on how to make your upcoming trip as economical as possible. I’d also like to mention that nothing in this post is sponsored and everything was researched by me. All of the suggestions and opinions are mine and I have not received anything in exchange.

  1. Check, check and check again – there are so many sources for economical rentals/cabins/hotels but some of my favorites are: booking.com, the NPS, KOA, and of course Air BNB. Make sure to look at different dates and seasonal rates to save the most!
  2. Of course, Trip Advisor is always a great resource for finding activities and things to do wherever your travel plans take you.
  3. And last, but certainly not least, Groupon. I feel like Groupon has been long forgotten but you can find awesome deals on the website or app nearly anywhere in the US. You could get Kayak deals, ziplining, theatre pass discounts and more. Check it out for the next city you plan to visit.

I hope this post has been helpful for you. If so, please let me know what else you would like to learn more about.

And, let me know below where would you like to go?

Cheers friends!

AV