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New England Budget Travel Ideas and Deals

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Strategies to find discounts and how else to save money for your New England travel planning during these tough economic times
Pleasant View Diner Photo, Smithfield, RI
Mmmmm.... a delicious stuffed turkey special for $5.49 at the Pleasant View Diner in Smithfield, RI.  Now doesn't that sound better than a budget-busting garlic-infused,  saffron-embedded, 14 century-inspired pasta dish for $24.95 at your local pretentious restaurant? The truth is, there are deals out there just like at the Pleasant View, all over New England -- seek them out for the betterment of your wallet! (photo by Eric H.)

NEW ENGLAND BUDGET TRAVEL
INTRO


Article by Eric H.

Somewhere along the line, vacationing in New England got mighty expensive.

The days of clean, modest motels that simply served as a place to sleep, family style restaurants that catered to people of all ages, and local tourist attractions that didn't require a second mortgage seem to be less common today. Many hotels have become upscale, restaurants have become "gourmet," and attractions too overstimulating to the senses and the pocketbook. Sometimes, it makes you long for simpler times when we took vacations to enjoy with our families, not to make a statement to our neighbors or people around the water cooler.  

Of course, there are still some great money-saving deals when vacationing in New England. Some businesses owners know that people are on a budget and simply can't stay at a place with a spa, caviar and gold-plated indoor swimming pool (that might be a stretch but it sounded good to make my point).  The other side of the coin is that the traveler who is interested in enjoying an inexpensive but meaningful vacation must view a vacation as a responsibility and not a luxury.  In other words, if you budget in your everyday lives, then it might be prudent to do the same on your New England vacation.  You go on vacation to relax.  How can you do so, knowing that debt is mounting?

If you budget correctly, however -- and are willing to do some research -- the savings could potentially be tremendous. The irony is that in tough economic times, it seems like there are more good deals out there than ever before. Many travel-oriented businesses want your business and are offering almost unheard of deals.  That's not the case everywhere, but, again, if you do enough research, we believe you'll find that this is a good time to find good travel deals.

With that said, here are some New England budget savings travel ideas and resources that we think you'll find useful, (in addition to starting a blog with hundreds of money saving New England travel ideas called The Thrifty New England Traveler). Here are 20 example budget New England travel articles from our Thrifty New England Traveler blog for your trip planning:

The five best cape Cod beaches

Ten great places to picnic in New England

Affordable admission, great experience at the Capron Park Zoo in Attleboro, Mass.

Paved Cape Cod bike trails

Budget travel on Nantucket

A cheap day trip to the FarmCoast of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts

Save money on Mystic, Conn., dining

Ben and Jerry's ice cream tour in Waterbury, Vt.

A Vermont day trip for $20

Following the Maine Civil War Trail

A Maine picnic by Nubble Lighthouse at Sohier Park

How to visit Bristol, R.I., without spending a dime

Nantasket Beach on a budget



BUDGET SAVINGS TRAVEL IDEAS

1. Book early as a travel destination's peak season might bring about higher prices. You can research thousands of New England hotels at the lowest available rate -- and book online -- in our New England Hotel Guide.

2. Consider booking during the weekdays as rates tend to be lower than the weekends.

3. Rates can change the next time you log onto your computer, so we recommend booking the first time if you feel the rate fits into your budget plans.

4. Logan Airport in Boston is a tremendous airport, but also consider Burlington International Airport in Burlington, VT, Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine, T.F. Green in Warwick, RI, Bradley International Airport in Hartford, CT, and Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, NH, for price comparisons.  Check the JetBlue Flight Deals for some good pricing on Boston, Portland and Burlington air travel.

5. Finding hidden New England destinations can result in less traffic headaches and promote better relaxation.  Some of New England's greatest travel destinations are not necessarily that well-known.


6. Follow the advice on where the locals eat.  Sometimes, restaurants that are mentioned in your travel guides know they have a good thing going and take advantage by charging you more. For example, when on Martha's Vineyard several years ago,  we spent $12.00 on a cheeseburger. In retrospect, it might have been nicer to "brown bag it" at the beach and get the additional bonus of some great scenery!  

We have found that we can get out of some restaurants for around $40.00 for a family of four, while other restaurants approach $80.00 for essentially the same food when on vacation.

Check our New England dining section where you'll find many affordable restaurants that won't break the bank. It won't be hard finding the affordable places in our guide since this is mostly the type of restaurant we dine at.  You can also check out and Cheap Eats in the Boston Area and
The Best Diners in New England
for more money-saving dining recommendations. Additionally, HiddenBoston.com features reviews of many inexpensive restaurants not well-known but, nevertheless, of high quality in the Boston area.

You can also purchase gift certificates at Restaurant.com offering discounts at more than 8,500 restaurants, nationwide.

7. While on the subject of scenery, much of it is free! Wow, imagine that!! Check with the locals on whether there are free beaches. Hikes are often free and can provide great exercise, views and fresh air. Many state parks offer nominal fees for accessing pleasant places to picnic, swim and boat. It's amazing so people go to the expensive, overcrowded tourist attractions that give you a headache when you can get a better feel for the area by taking the road less taken.

You can also find New England budget attractions (highlighted in red) at our New England Family Attractions guide.

8. Check for local events, many of which are free. For example, many New England communities have beautiful towns commons where tree lighting ceremonies, Fourth of July and fall foliage festivals and free music concerts are commonplace.  It's another great way to experience the "real New England," as close-knit New England communities really know how to have a good time together. To refute the accusation that New Englanders can be unfriendly, we have never been to an unfriendly New England community event. On the contrary, the natives are quite friendly more so than in other certain areas of the country (no names here)! A good place to start in Massachusetts, for example, is to browse the list of upcoming events at MassVacation.com

9. Back to hotels. While upscale hotels are indeed a special treat, it's generally not a great idea to vacation there if you have lots of credit card debt and don't really save in your everyday lives.  Sometimes, we have to remember that a motel can be viewed as nothing more than a clean place to stay and a foundation, or springboard, for exploring the area. In other words, you get a good night's sleep and then leave the premises to enjoy your chosen travel destination. If you're on a budget, do you really need more than a clean place to sleep? Many of these more inexpensive lodging establishments actually do have amenities like an outdoor swimming pool (OK, that's good only in the summer), coffee 24/7, and hair dryers.  We recommend browsing the hundreds of New England hotels listed on our site -- compare rates and see what bargains you can come up with.

10. Consider traveling by bus. While you lose of your privacy -- and risk the small chance of being seated next to some unctuous clod -- chances are you won't and will save some significant money. We recommend checking out
GotoBus
for special New England region travel deals via bus.

A FEW BUDGET-FRIENDLY NEW ENGLAND TRAVEL DESTINATIONS...

Many areas in New England seem to have more budget-friendly motels, restaurants and sometimes, even, local tourist attractions.  For the ocean, you might want to try York Beach, Maine, Westerly, RI, and Plymouth, MA (not all peaches and cream, but enough nice areas to make it worthwhile).  For the mountains, we like the St. Johnsbury, VT, area, and Lincoln - Woodstock, NH (suprisingly affordable lodging options for such a heavily touristed area). For cities, we like Burlington, VT, Providence, RI, and Portland, Maine. They are generally less expensive cities than Boston. In fact, by staying in Providence, you can enjoy the myriad historical and modern attractions there, and yet be only an hour to Boston. If it's Boston you want, there are some excellent, relatively inexpensive money-saving lodging options in and near the city, some great cheap eats places, and some budget-saving attractions (free to under $20) like touring the Freedom Trail, viewing Boston from the 52nd floor of the Prudential building, enjoying the spectacular 265 acres and 15,000 trees, shrubs and vines at the Arnold Arboretum, a tour of Fenway Park, or taking a Swan Boat Ride through the Boston Public Gardens area. Speaking of the Boston Public Gardens, the area is a virtual oasis with its fountains, flower beds and trees. It's beautiful and free to walk around. Castle Island in South Boston is free to visit and features water views, swimming, a network of walking trails for walking, hiking or jogging, biking, fishing, picnic opportunities and the great Sullivan's hamburger stand in the summer. Boston on a budget is possible!

No matter where you vacation in New England, there is a good deal. Pick your location and make it fit into your budget!  When you return, please share with us how you were able to budget on your New England vacation.


Related Articles:
Cheap Eats in the Boston Area
The Best Diners in New England
Boston Travel on a Budget

Old-School, Family-Style Dining at Nicky's in Wrentham, MA
Popular Walks in the New Hampshire Lakes Region


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