Sunday, July 17, 2011

Vacationing Above Your Means (Within Your Means) Part II

Last time, I wrote about vacationing "exotically" within your means. After writing it, I started thinking that my favorite vacations are not the most exotic ones. Traveling abroad can be stressful, and I think that the relax factor is very important. We take time away from work to re-charge our batteries, anyone who has been out of the country knows there is nothing more annoying and stressful than a faulty power converter. Now, I want to write about some less high-profile vacation options, and ways to keep a domestic vacation even more reasonably priced.

On the East Coast (and I assume near any large body of water), it's quite trendy to travel to the shore for weekends and holidays when the weather is nice. Some people rent beach houses, some people stay in "spring break" themed hotels on the "strip", and some people RV or car camp. The Grige (my Partner) and I backpack and I think it is the most wonderful and un-stressful break ever. 

We generally go to Assateague National Park (not to be confused with the State Park, which is full of RVs and screaming children where you must book your spot 6 months in advance). Once you arrive, you pay $15 dollars to park, check in with the rangers, grab your backpack and hike anywhere from 2 to 11 miles up the beach to pre-set camp areas with fire pits, picnic tables and even a classy latrine (read eco-friendly port-a-potty). You can stay for a weekend or a week, you fall asleep to the sound of the waves, and there is usually not another person in view as you sip a nightcap and enjoy your fire-fresh supper. 

Granted, this is easier if you are not a total camping novice. You will need bug repellant, and you will need to stick to beverages that do not come in glass containers or require blenders. You will also need some basic camping gear - the most primitive versions of which can be purchased for under $20 at Target. But isn't that a tiny price to pay for peace, tranquility and miles of open seashore? Oh yeah, and wild horses.

I'm of the belief that this camping thing works anywhere, but if spending a night out of doors really isn't your bag, there are still options left for a domestic beach vacation that doesn't break the bank (or involve droves of guidos doing jager bombs in the next hotel room). I am from Michigan and I love Michigan, so it was only a matter of time before I spent a few paragraphs telling you how amazing and awesome Michigan is. So here it is: Michigan rocks

Michigan is also cheap. Renting a house within walking distance of the lake on Michigan's west coast is not for the poor, but it's night and day when compared with a beach rental on the eastern shore. There are also hotels and cabins in abundance with all kinds of deals. We all know that Michigan's economy is in the sewer, so you will see a price drop in everything from draught beer to boat rentals once you cross the border. The best part is that there is no drop in quality to match. 

Michigan also offers a ton of variety. You can head to the Upper Peninsula for woodsy solitude on the chilly shores of Lake Superior, or you can hit up any one of hundreds of adorable little beach towns up and down the coast of Lake Michigan. There are great restaurants and tons of entertainment to be found pretty much everywhere. You can swim, you can surf, you can kayak, paddle board, sail, sand-board, bike, hike, or even head to the dunes in your 4-wheel drive vehicle. There is something for everyone. 

So before you drop an entire paycheck to sleep on the floor of an Atlantic Coast beach house with 27 of your "closest friends", check out Grand Haven, Traverse City, Pentwater, Marquette, or Harbor Springs. You may find yourself on the front end of a very affordable trend. 

See you at the Beach,
Double E

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