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My Cheap Vacations

Some of you may have seen my recent vacation photos on Facebook. Over the last six months, I’ve traveled to Vero Beach Florida, Guatemala, St Louis, Scottsdale Arizona, Ft Lauderdale Florida, and Moab Utah. Some of these trips have been fairly expensive, like Scottsdale and Ft Lauderdale (mostly because of the resorts I chose to stay at), but many others have been pretty cheap. Because of this, I started thinking about how I might be able to take more of these inexpensive trips this year.

For instance, my first trip was during Thanksgiving week 2022. A friend from high school was looking for someone to stay in her home and take care of her two big dogs. She lives in Vero Beach Florida and wanted to come back home to Kansas City during Thanksgiving. She has a very nice home in a gated community with a pool, pickleball courts, a large clubhouse, a gated dog park, and many other amenities. The home is also 10 miles from the beach along the Atlantic Coast. She was offering the opportunity to stay in her home for free and simply walk the dogs twice a day. How could I pass up an opportunity like that?

This turned out to be a pretty cheap vacation with a total cost of less than $1,200 and I was able to vacation in sunny Florida for a whole week. I went to the community pool several days, drove to the beach three times, did some shopping, and cooked most of my meals at home. The flight was $575, the car rental was $185, groceries were $160, and misc spending with a couple of restaurants and shopping made up the rest. I even enjoyed walking her Lab and Collie to the dog park. It gave me the opportunity to meet several other neighbors in the community.

My next trip in January of this year was to Guatemala with my brother and sister-in-law. My brother Jon Henderson is on the board of advisors for a Christian children’s orphanage in the city of Quiché, Guatemala and every year in the winter, they visit the orphanage for a week. Quiché is high up in the mountains and it’s a beautiful area, plus the temperatures usually hit into the 70’s during January. The whole week was filled with beautiful weather and entertaining the children, but we did have quite a bit of free time to explore the city and have fun. I took many photos that week and it will be something I will always cherish. Again, it was a fairly cheap vacation. The flight was $589, and the orphanage director picked us up at the airport and drove us around all week so transportation cost was zero, we bought groceries and cooked most of our own meals at the director’s home, so the only other costs were just a few small mementos I bought at the local farmers market. I don’t think I spent more than $900 on the entire trip!

St Louis was a short weekend, but still pretty easy. I asked a friend to go with me and we took Friday afternoon off to drive to St Louis. We spent most of Saturday shopping and exploring the old St Charles area down by the river and on Sunday we drove through the downtown area and toured the Arch. Because we drove and stayed in a fairly inexpensive hotel for just two nights. The total cost of the trip was around $600 for me.

My sixth trip was to Colorado/Utah. I meet up with some friends to go on this crazy, four-wheel drive, mountain rock crawling trip just two weeks ago. A friend of mine and his buddies have these huge four-wheel drive trucks and they take them on trips to the mountains, camp out on the side of scenic cliffs and spend their days exploring some pretty rough terrains high in the mountains of Colorado, then to the middle of nowhere in Moab, Utah. To be quite frank, I’m not into outdoor camping. I’m really the “stay in a nice comfortable hotel on the beach” kind of guy, but where else would I ever get to experience something like this? We traveled to areas in Utah where there is barely even any resemblance of roads and I took hundreds of photos of unbelievable views. Because these trucks are big and heavy, they guzzle premium gasoline so that was a big part of the expense, but we camped until the stars (no cost) and we cooked our own food, but the total cost with buying gas, food, and our meals at restaurants while we were traveling out there and back, was under $800 for all ten days of our trip!

As I said previously, I’m now wondering how I can find more opportunities like this. If I can just find a friend that lives in Hawaii and needs me to stay at their home for one week to walk their dogs?

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