5 Top Tips for Your Budget Vacation (and why the San Juan Islands are your answer)

Times are tough right now and when budgets are tight, the first thing to disappear from the ‘to do’ list is the longed for annual vacation. Before you take out that black marker pen to draw a line through your plans – pause for a minute.

You work hard and a deserve vacation -there’s no reason why ‘budget’ means ‘miss-it.’ Follow these tips on vacation planning and you may discover that an archipelago in the Pacific Northwest, namely the San Juan Islands, offers the ideal solution to your cash flow problems.

Work Out Exactly What You Can Spend
Running out of cash while you’re away is the worst feeling for any traveler. As near as possible, estimate to the last cent what you can actually afford. If you’re planning a vacation on limited funds try and work out your needs on a day by day basis.

Nestling in the waters of the Pacific Ocean north of Seattle the scenic San Juan Islands offer vacations to suit all budgets. What’s more, with constant temperatures in the low 70s, your need for copious amounts of all weather clothing is eliminated. Just don’t forget your sunhat, suncream and sunglasses!

Major expenses cover your basics; food, transport and accommodation. If you can travel outside peak times your vacation will be cheaper, leaving you more dollars to spend on indulging yourself.

Travel in the shoulder or low season
For traveling outside of peak season, the San Juan Islands are hard to beat. With around 250 sunny days every year and the driest micro climate in the Pacific Northwest you have a high chance of basking in the sunshine whenever you go.

Choose the right accommodation
There are a variety of hotels, inns and guesthouses on the islands with every budget in mind. You may be required to share a bathroom or choose to stay at an inn that does not include breakfast to get a lower priced room. Another option is to rent a private house or cabin which can lower the overall cost when divided by a group. Also, you could choose to bring a tent and camp in the great outdoors which would you save money. Be sure to plan ahead because camping is very popular in the San Juan Islands and camp grounds can book up if you wait too long.

Affordable food
Investigate the choice of restaurants on offer; are their prices realistic for your budget? If you rent a house then you can buy groceries and eat in or if you want to enjoy the culinary talents of local chefs, you could choose to eat bigger lunches which are less expensive than dinners and then eat a light dinner to save money. Many of the inns include a delicious sizable breakfast, so you may want to skip lunch all together and then splurge on dinner. The local grocery stores carry a variety of food for picnics and there are dozens of places to enjoy a scenic picnic in the San Juan Islands to save on food costs. Connoisseurs of fine (budget!) cuisine can’t fail to be impressed by the range of cafes, bars and restaurants to delight all taste buds and satisfy every price range.

Ditch the car
Another way to save is to leave your car parked in Anacortes at the ferry landing to save on ferry fees while visiting the islands. This will save you a minimum of $50. If you are coming for the day or your accommodations are located in the town of Friday Harbor this is a good option. Then you will only have to pay for walk on passenger tickets. If you are planning on driving around the island or staying out of town, it is best to bring your car otherwise what you save in ferry fees, you will spend on taxis or renting a car.

Extras
Of course, the more specialized your plans the more specific equipment you’ll need. Think about bringing your own equipment such as bicycles to reduce costs. A budget vacation doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or enjoy the experiences on offer. There are also many places to hike which is free.

One of the renowned activities of the San Juan Islands is a guided sea kayaking tour from San Juan Island. Not only are the tours affordable they offer an alternative way of exploring the islands saving you more money. If you come with a group of six or more, ask for a group discount. Whether you’re an expert or simply intrigued, a guided sea kayaking tour from San Juan Island is feasible for the most limited of budgets.With river otters, porpoises, sea lions and seals vying for your attention, you won’t want to miss a moment on the water. If you time your trip right, you may even spot some of the majestic Orca whales frolicking in the waters around the San Juan Islands too.

Monitor Spending
Track your expenditure while you are away. It may sound laborious but you’ll reap the rewards. If you review spending on a daily basis, you can adjust your plans accordingly to avoid the embarrassment (and panic!) of exceeding your limits with three or four days left of your vacation.

If you do find funds are low while away in the San Juan Islands all you have to do is relax, literally. The islands offer countless ways to indulge yourself at no additional cost. Take a stroll through the forests or spend time on one of the many deserted beaches absorbing the ubiquitous sun’s rays. You’ll find your concerns slip away as you immerse yourself in the serenity of your location.

What Now?
Once you’ve worked out your likely budget and chosen your destination, take a breather. Apart from careful monitoring of spending while you’re away, the hardest part is done. Remember, vacations are a chance to rejuvenate, relax and revitalize. What better place to revitalize in balmy sunshine, enjoy the thrill of a guided sea kayaking tour and stay within your budget than the San Juan Islands.

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