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Summary: As the COVID-19 pandemic ensues, businesses must nevertheless re-open for their own survival. This might be a good time to vacation if safety and finances allow. The good news is that there are cheap ways to stay healthy and have a great time.
As summer unfolds and businesses, however slowly, begin to open their doors after the long COVID-19 dormancy, many people are considering a return to normalcy by taking a vacation. This prospect is both exciting and problematic. The thrill rests in getting out of the house for an extended period, enjoying a physical, mental, and emotional refreshment. At the same time, the commercial awakenings in Washington, Colorado, Idaho, and Oregon are cautious and uneven. Between that reality and the fact that many have struggled financially over the last 15 weeks, travelers are busily seeking ways to stretch their vacation dollars after the coronavirus re-opening.
COVID-19 Vacation Priorities
Safety and Health
This priority is most concerned with how not to spend your time away from home this summer. Social distancing remains a pivotal guideline from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When people draw near, face masks are necessary. Meanwhile, frequent hand-washing is advised. Recirculating air is something to be avoided. Therefore, public transportation and airplanes are less than ideal. Hotels, motels, and guest houses likewise pose a threat in that you will share close quarters with strangers. Even large family reunions warrant discouragement given the continuation of infections. While these discouragements may be depressing, they do not rule out fun and enjoyment.
Fun and Enjoyment
Probably the most enjoyable aspect of a vacation is getting away from the house in which you may have felt imprisoned of late. Yet there are other outcomes that families seek when getting away from it all. For example, the change in routine is a healthy distraction. Sleeping in, sharing experiences outside the daily grind, new scenery and novel activities help vacationers to decompress and recharge intellectual and emotional batteries. Relaxation is another desirable aim of an extended holiday. Just doing nothing is sometimes a psychic tonic for even the most driven of people. Of course, in the wake of the pandemic shutdowns, even the most laid back might have had their fill of that.
Economy and Savings
For those who have been furloughed or otherwise prevented from receiving their regular wages and compensation, getting the most bang for the buck is central to any successful vacation. Funds are likely limited so destinations should be minimally draining to the wallet. This all works in tandem with the other two priorities since outdoor activities and venues are far safer, more enjoyable and, much of the time, cheap.
6 Cost-Effective Vacation Ideas
- Camping – good, old-fashioned camping: tents, open fires, living off the land, more or less. Favorite campsites include Washington’s Olympic National Park, just a couple of hours outside of Seattle. It has long stretches of beautiful ocean vistas in which campers will often see numerous whales and dolphins, along with all manner of sea birds. Inland rest dense forests packed with flora and wildlife, as well as waterways teeming with fish. Permits for backpacking are again being issued, but some trails and beaches are still closed to the public. Some of ONP’s campgrounds require reservations and campground fees do not exceed $25 per night. Of course, entry and other fees apply, too.
- RVs – i.e. recreational vehicles, are closely related to camping. They come in all sizes and generally range between less than $100 to just over $350 per night. The price depends not only on how many people the vessel will hold (see paragraph on health and safety above) but also on the amenities offered: bathroom size, doors vs. curtains, the capacity of the water tank, etc. Seven Feathers RV Resort in Canyonville, Oregon, for instance, offers utility hookups, free Wi-Fi and cable connections plus showers, laundry rooms, and other public accommodations. This site is close to wineries, golf courses, and a major casino (probably not the best idea for the budget-conscious).
- House rental – is a sound alternative to hotels. Not only does this avoid too much contact with strangers, it gives you more control over the environment, e.g. cleaning, hygiene, and disinfecting. With the advent of online vacation rental marketing, finding and booking a rental house in the area of your preferred destination is easier than ever. These dwellings can be found along the coastlines of Oregon and Washington as well as downtown Denver, Colorado, and in the shadow of Bald Mountain in Idaho. Even log cabins are available for procurement.
- “Day-cations” by car – are very economical ways to leave town without the hassles of overnight arrangements. With fuel prices hovering low, residents of Boise, Idaho can visit the Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls, a two-hour trip, and return on the same tank of gas. This destination sports trails, walking paths, and overlooks. It remains one of the few U.S. venues where BASE jumping ( a form of low-altitude, freefall parachuting) is permitted. Whether jumping or watching, it is without a doubt a diversion from the everyday. Such natural locales are all over the Rocky Mountain region and Pacific Northwest.
- “Stay-cations” – might be the last thing you feel like doing after months of homebound existence. Yet this is by far the least expensive, and immunologically safest, way to spend your downtime. Key to making a stay-cation enjoyable is variety, i.e. making it clearly distinct from the customary household patterns. Popular activities under this regime are spa days, museum visits (provided they are in fact open), camping in the backyard, and binge-watching movies. Picking up food from someplace other than your regular grocery stores, such as a farmer’s market or specialty shop, also adds diversity to this time at home.
- Do the opposite – i.e. chuck it all and go someplace really exciting. On a plane. Staying in a hotel. Yes, you read it correctly. Forbes magazine predicts the airlines will drastically lower fares to get passengers back in the air, adding the caution that such prices will last only a short time. In the same way, room rates at hotels have dipped in many major cities due to the near-halt in business because of the pandemic. The converse here is that they are taking so many precautions that these establishments are no longer aiming for 100 percent occupancy. So, again, the low rates may not last.
Making a Vacation More Affordable: The Supply Side
While cost-reduction and skimping can save money otherwise lost on an expensive vacation away from home, there are measures taken that can expand your money supply so you can still end up ahead financially. A quick call to certain vendors, for example, can yield positive results during the pandemic. Auto insurers are more accommodating to giving discounts to clients who have reduced their road time substantially. Similarly, cell phone plans need not possess all the bells and whistles when life itself is simplified; downsizing pays its own dividends. Less take-out and more homemade meals also cut costs over time.
If you are in a sound financial position regarding your home and property, a cash-out refinance can put more money in the household coffers. A rate-and-term refinance, in this era of severely low interest rates, slows the monthly spending under the right conditions. Talking to an experienced mortgage professional can clarify whether these are viable options.
Since 1992, Sammamish Mortgage has been helping those in the Pacific Northwest realize their dreams of buying a house. If you’re searching for a mortgage, we are here to help. Sammamish Mortgage works with buyers and offers mortgage programs in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. If you’d like, you can Contact Us with any questions. If you’re curious, you can View Rates directly on our website. Or, if you’re ready, Apply Instantly or get a Rate Quote.