Have you been dreaming of getting away but feel like there’s no time?

Making travel a part of your life doesn’t mean you have to hop on a plane and head to an exotic destination.

I’d be willing to bet that there are plenty of fun and interesting things to do and see within a few hours of where you live…maybe even in your own backyard!


Schuyler, VA
My boyfriend’s parents’ property – what a beautiful, quiet setting!

My boyfriend and I just got back from a quick trip to visit his family in Central Virginia approximately 2 hours from Washington, DC. 

They live in a peaceful rural area about 20 minutes south of Charlottesville on 117-acres surrounded by woods with a lovely view of the mountains beyond.

Although our visits are typically pretty quick due to my boyfriend’s work schedule, we realize how important it is to relax and unwind from the stresses of daily life.

The hammock (aka My Happy Place)
The hammock where I like to spend time relaxing (aka My Happy Place)

And despite the length of our trips, we still manage to find and enjoy a variety of free and budget-friendly activities.

One of my favorite activities when we visit is going wine tasting. Virginia has a thriving wine industry and boasts nearly 300 wineries throughout the state, making it a popular destination for wine enthusiasts.

Luckily, my boyfriend’s parents live along the Monticello Wine Trail and we were able to visit a few wineries.

Wine tasting can be very affordable; most are $15 per person or less. Many wineries also allow you to bring your own food, so why not dust off the picnic basket and pack up some goodies to enjoy it in a beautiful setting like the one below?

Be sure to call the winery or check the website before you go to find out their rules.

The stunning view from Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard in North Garden, VA
The stunning view from Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard in North Garden, VA

Here are some of the budget-friendly activities we enjoy:

  • Getting back to nature at a State or National Park 
  • Taking self-guided walking tours – get a map from the local visitor’s center and get moving
  • Camping under the stars 
  • Kayaking around a lake
  • Tubing down a river
  • Exploring museums
  • Tasting craft beer, wine, cider, or liquor 
  • Perusing antique stores
  • Going to the zoo
  • Admiring Victorian houses, churches, and other beautiful architecture in historic areas
  • Discovering stunning street art and murals
  • Learning about the area’s history
  • Tasting the local cuisine

For more budget-friendly activity ideas, check out Experience-Based Gifts: Budget-Friendly Gift Ideas


Even if you have a limited amount of time and/or money (or both), you can still plan a relaxing and affordable getaway…if you know how. 

Regardless of how far away you decide to go, the tools below can help you plan your next trip.


Before you can plan a trip, you need to know where you’re going. When my boyfriend and I take a quick trip, we decided that we wouldn’t go anywhere that was more than a 3-hour drive from us.   This decision helps immensely when we plan a trip since we have set parameters to work within.

Using Google Maps, you can see how far away a potential destination is.  Google Maps also gives you several route options and allows you to drag and drop the route to suit your needs. 

Google Maps


This website/app can be extremely helpful when traveling. Want to find out if it’s cheaper to drive or fly? TravelMath can help you figure that out. Want to find a halfway point?  TravelMath can calculate that out as well. 


Through Groupon, you can find discounts on getaways, transportation, meals, tours, wine tasting, and more.  It’s free to open an account and you can save up to 60% on purchases. Open your free Groupon account



If you want to discover what’s in your own backyard or are planning a trip in the US, Only In Your State can help you find festivals, celebrations, and other fun activities. Search by state or city and signup to receive emails with information about upcoming events in the state(s) you select. 

Only in Your State


If you are looking for an affordable place to stay and are tired of hotels, consider booking your lodging through Airbnb. You can book a room or the entire place. Find just the right place by using the filters available. 

And Airbnb has a variety of unique lodging options to choose from depending on the area. You may be able to stay in a houseboat or yacht, a treehouse, a yurt, a tiny house, or a log cabin.  Pretty cool, huh!?  Open your free Airbnb account



The number of tools and apps for travel planning are endless, but the ones featured above are a few of my go-tos.  

Which tip(s) are you going to begin using?

Share in the comments below ⇓

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