Planning an inexpensive vacation for a first anniversary

First Anniversary Trip Ideas

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Cheap Anniversary Vacations

I was hoping some of your readers might know of any (or a way to find) inexpensive travel destinations? My husband and I are looking for a place to spend our first anniversary, and we would like to go someplace quiet and romantic, but we only have about a thousand dollars (at *most*) to spend on vacation, and we only have 6 days off for traveling. We've wanted to take a cruise or visit an island somewhere, but that is too expensive. Would anyone have any suggestions?
Elisabeth H.

Use Local Entertainment Book

In respones to Elizabeith H. question on inexpensive places to travel. I have a suggestion of how to save money once they get to their destination. My husband and I just went to San Diego a few months ago and we ordered an Entertainment Book. It saved us a ton of money on food expenses and activities as well. We also booked our hotel through the ones listed in the book and saved up to 50% off the normal rate. We didn't have much money either, so we found this a great way to get us through the honeymoon we wanted to take.

Join Automobile Club

First I suggest joining the Automobile Club of America. In addition to getting those roadside services they have lots of travel books covering the entire U.S. free to members. I find them invauable in planning trips. I do not know where you live but if it is close to California, Catalina Island is a lovely place to visit. We spent out tenth anniversary there. A bed and breakfast might also be an option for you, they are located everywhere and are usually more romantic than a regular hotel.


This is for the couple who wanted a cheap travel destination for their vacation. Depending on the cost of getting there, Mexico is a very cheap place to get away. Once you are there, the exchange rate makes it so that dinners and hotels are amazingly inexpensive. But, the plane travel can be expensive. It depends on where you live in the States.
Lisa B.

Just Cruisin'

Elisabeth H. wanted under $1,000 trip ideas. I don't know what part of the country she lives in, but if she's near L.A. or in Florida two people can take a 3 or 4 night cruise for about $500. Well worth the money since all meals and entertainment are included. We took a 4-night cruise from L.A. to Ensenada, Mexico that was wonderful and was only $575 for the two of us. We spent about $150 extra but that was for photographs, gift-shop purchases and drinks. I highly recommend a cruise for a fantastic vacation that is easily budgeted.
Grace B.

Related: How to Cruise on a Budget

Second Honeymoon Cabin

Several years ago I gave my husband a "second honeymoon" for Christmas by renting a log cabin with a stone fireplace at a local State Park (Pine Mountain to be exact. So, I wrapped a Pine Mountain log to tell him about it, since we could use that on the trip). Most State Parks have fully-furnished cabins for around $100 a weekend (I'm not sure about full-week rates) and if you go in the next few months, you can access off-season rates. All you have to bring is your honey, what food you are going to eat, candles, and anything special to the two of you. Also, by staying in the State Park, you have access to all accompanying attractions, such as canoeing, hiking, swimming, picnicking, exhibits, museums, etc. Whatever of course is appropriate for the area. We live in a state which has parks everywhere from the Beach to the Mountains. You can obtain a listing of your State's parks on the internet by keying in U. S. Parks and then the appropriate state. We had a great time.
Rhea J.

Check Frommers

Check Look for the cruise section or archives for all-inclusive offers in the daily e-mail.
Al R.


In response to the inquiry below, I have one word: ICELAND! My boyfriend and I, who are on a budget as well, just returned from Iceland and had a magnificent time! Icelandair offers affordable packages that include airfare, hotel, transfers, tours and even some meals! It is definitely a romantic, exotic country and we recommend it to everyone. You can take a cruise to visit the fjords, bathe in the 104 degree Blue Lagoon, ride the Icelandic horses, visit a geyser, a waterfall, and learn about Icelandic culture. What more could you ask for in a vacation! Plus, almost everyone speaks English.
Jennifer H.

The Poconos

This is in reply to the woman looking for an inexpensive, romantic vacation. I don't know what area she lives in, but the Pocono resorts are wonderful. There are many different ones to choose from, and they all offer plans, inlcuding meals. There are also many different activities to participate in, if you're so inclined, but you will also be left alone, if that is your heart's desire.
Carol Ann

Stay Local

Take out a map and draw a circle covering 300 mile radius from where you live then look for an interesting place within the circle that you and your husband would like to visit. This way you could make the trip in one day in a car and still not be too tired to look around and see the sights. When you have chosen your destination you can do a search on your computer and see if the place has any information available on the net. If none is available call the Chamber of Commerce of the place that you are interested in. They should be able to send you information that you would need in order make reservations. Be open with the person that you talk to and let them know you are on a budget and what you are looking for, something quiet and romantic. There may be bed and breakfast in the location and depending on where you go there may be off season rates available. Make allowance for the days that you are going to be gone and how much your daily limit is and stick to it. You should be able to be gone for 6 days and still have some money in your pocket. You dont have to spend a fortune to have a good time and a thousand dollars can go a long way if you budget it right. Hope this helps!
Donna R.


In response to Elisabeth H's request for an inexpensive travel destination, has she considered camping? My boyfriend and I don't have a lot of money, but when we want to get away, we go camping. Over the past 2 years, we have accumulated everything we need (tent, sleeping bags, cooking utensils, etc.). Now that we have all these items, it is really a cheap vacation for us. Our only expenses are for food, ice, and the campsite. If you don't have camping gear, there are quite a few places that will rent it to you when you stay at their campground. This is a great way to try camping if you have never been before. There are some wonderful campgrounds around that are private, quiet, and romantic.

Define Goals First

Rather than looking for specific destinations and ideas, I suggest that you first define what you are looking for in an anniversary vacation. What does "romantic vacation" mean to each of you? Settle on a list of words that define what you want from your trip, then make a list of places and things that would fit the list. Be especially articulate in what activities will make both of you happy (one person may assume a trip to California means outdoor sports, the other may fantasize about museums and restaurants). The point is to find inexpensive alternatives to the first (expensive) things that pop into mind. Of course, camping is an option, but I don't blame you if you refuse to sleep on the ground for your anniversary!

A Bunch of Anniversary Vacation Choices

You "only" have $1000 to spend? There are LOTS of things that you can do for under that price, with a little effort and know how. First, some questions need to be answered. Where do you live? How far away do you want to travel? By what kind of transportation (airplane, car, etc.)? What kinds of things do you and your husband want to do on the trip? What do you enjoy?

Camping is a cheaper way to enjoy some time off and you can enjoy nature at the same time! In a tent or a camper (some campgrounds will rent one to you), you can be outside but still enjoy comforts of home (like restrooms, showers, etc.)

How about the beach? Check with local real estate agencies near the waterfront for cottages for weekly or daily rent.

The easiest place to start your "research" is on the Internet. Go to a search page (Yahoo is good for category searches) and look up vacation or beach or camping or whatever "type" of vacation you think you might be interested in. (Here's another idea -- how about a cute bed and breakfast? New England's filled with them!)

Here's another easy place to start. Where do friends live? Anywhere you could vacation? That's always the cheapest of all. Visit your friends for a week and stay with them for free!

Call AAA and ask for brochures for the places you're interested in. Try their website too.

Don't forget your local library. They might have a whole travel section to browse through. Your librarian is a VALUABLE source of information when you don't know where to begin.

Last but not least, call a town's Chamber of Commerce (You can call information in the area code of the places you're thinking of) for lots of helpful information.

My family of 5 have been vacationing for years and we've never spent that much on any vacation! Don't let a travel agent do all your legwork for a fee when you can do it yourself for nothing!
Amy N. in Ipswich, MA

Home Exchange Programs

Although I have never used it, I have been very interested and heard good things about home-exchange programs. These take quite a bit of advance planning and to use a service does cost some fee, however the money saved in not paying for hotel costs can really make a difference. Make sure you find a service that does some checking on those with whom you will be trading. All you need is to come back from a relaxing vacation and find your home in shambles or things missing. This is not for everyone, but it can be an exciting, interesting, and money-saving way to enhance your vacation. It would seem this would work even better in an out-of-country stay because of the chance to be more 'immersed' in the culture.

A Cozy, Romantic Cabin

In response to this request, I would suggest renting a cozy little cabin in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Alleghany State Park in New York, or the Poconos in Pennsylvania. There are special rates for a week. At all of these places there is so much to do (if you don't want to just cuddle up next to the fire or sit in the jacuzzi on your deck). There is hiking, bicycle riding, fishing, white water rafting, sing-a-longs, SHOPPING (need I say more?).
Kim Q.

Bed and Breakfast

For the couple looking for a romantic vacation, check out a Bed & Breakfast guide from your library for the State in which you live, or a nearby State. Choose an area that has nearby attractions, but is far enough away from the city to be restful. With breakfast included, you can pick up cheese, bread and fruit for a picnic lunch in a park or along a scenic highway, then splurge on a nice dinner in a "good" restuarant. With no phones, preferably no TV, and no dishes or housekeeping, you can concentrate on each other and get acquainted all over again.

Start saving for your future today. Consider these 11 ways to save $1000 while living paycheck to paycheck.

Check Off-Season Locations

To Elizabeth who was looking for an inexpensive travel destination that is quiet and romantic. How about staying at a bed and breakfast in the New England area. Also, in the summer months there are many colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada that offer very inexpensive accomodations. There is a book that was published in 1990 called 'Peterson's Directory to College Accomodations'. Each entry gives a description of the area surrounding the college/university as well as the phone #s and addresses and price rates. They usually offer accomodations from mid-May through mid-August. You can also obtain the 1(800) phone #s of the nationwide budget hotels and motels and ask for the direct phone #s for the particular location you are looking to stay at. (Sometimes you can get a better deal if you reserve a room through the actual location directly). I hope this helps.
Maureen McC. in Trenton, NJ

Two Choices for Less Than $1,000

Depending on where you live, you can fly to two of our favorite destinations and stay in deluxe accommodations for around $1,000 or less. Flights to Cancun, Mexico or Las Vegas, Nevada are usually around $250 per person. At this time of year, Las Vegas accommodations are actually cheaper. So if you want to relax in the sun or sightsee, go to Cancun. If you want to see some fabulous Broadway-like shows with extraordinary special effects, or do some sightseeing, go to Las Vegas. The shows are expensive, but worth it ($35-$70 per person). But you can get a beautiful room for $30 midweek (rates go up, up, up on weekends).

However, if you want a romantic, quiet getaway, fly or drive and stay at a bed-and-breakfast (where breakfast is included in the room rate). Lots of choices!
Angela W.

Reviewed January 2018

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