Saving up money before you go on vacation is an obvious move. But how do you keep from going over budget when loved ones use their vacation time to visit you?
Playing host can take a toll financially. You may feel inclined to wine and dine your out-of-town guests at nice restaurants or trendy nightclubs. Getting tickets to a concert, play or local attraction could mean shelling out big bucks.
But if you don’t have a lot of wiggle room in the “fun” category of your budget, you can still enjoy your time with family and friends. Here are some budget-friendly alternatives.
Tour Your City
Even if you’ve lived in your city for decades, when you’re entertaining visitors from out of town, it’s totally fine to play tourist and take a day exploring your city like you’re new. Look into bike share rentals to get around rather than paying for expensive city parking or a hailing an Uber or Lyft.
Create your own walking tour through downtown or another popular area. A little window shopping doesn’t cost a thing — as long as you don’t pull out your wallet.
If your town is known for its street art, make a point to take in the murals or public sculptures. Unlike going to a museum, there’s no admission price.
Speaking of museums, check your local library to see if it offers free passes to museums and attractions. Some museum pass programs allow library card holders to reserve multiple tickets.
Explore the Great Outdoors
Mother Nature provides the perfect backdrop for serene daytime excursions. In many cases, you can access hiking trails, nature preserves and parks without paying an entrance fee.
Download these free outdoor apps to find and navigate parks and trails near you.
If your group prefers aquatic scenery, a trip to a nearby beach, lake, riverfront or natural springs will do the trick.
Celebrate a Birthday with Free Goodies
Having family and friends visit you on your birthday is a gift in itself, but getting free food and treats for your special day is the icing on top of the cake.
We’ve compiled a list of over 100 eateries and retailers where you can get a special discount or freebie on your birthday.
Many of these deals require signing up for rewards programs in advance, so don’t wait until the last minute. Have fun jumping from place to place to score as many birthday freebies as you can — and don’t forget to share with your entourage.
Enjoy a Night In
You don’t have to leave home to have a good time. A nice, inexpensive night in doesn’t have to be boring either.
Break out the board games and playing cards for an old-fashioned game night. Play into folks’ competitive spirits and turn it into a championship. The person who wins the most games earns the title of Board Game Champ, complete with bragging rights until the next get-together.
Of course, it’s not a party without the snacks. Invite friends or relatives over and ask them to bring their best appetizer dish so everyone can feast potluck style. If they bring over more games, even better. Bonus: Your out-of-town guests get to meet (or reconnect) with your local crew.
As host, you ought to provide some of the munchies too. Take inspiration from this post about creating a charcuterie board for $25 or less.
When your guests leave, they’ll be talking about the great trip they had. And after you say goodbye, you won’t be stressing over how much money you spent during their visit.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.