Okay, so we’ve all heard that the economy is doing better. Depending on who you believe, some say it is even booming. Well, that usually means one thing: come Summer, more and more of us will be hitting the road in search of adventure. Even though the GNP is thriving, that may not necessarily mean that our purse strings are any less tightly shut than they were a decade ago. However, even with limitations (like paying our mortgages, putting gas in our cars, and eating) it is still possible to get out on the open road and see the sights. It just takes some careful planning. In this article we’ll make suggestions on where to go, and offer advice on how to pack for your journey to save time and $$$$$.

The first consideration is who all is going. Is this a solo trip? Couples getaway? Or a family sojourn? Since there is a lot of ink that enables families to save, we’ll leave that segment alone. Another major consideration, is time off. You can get more bang for your buck and see more places if you break up your vacation time into extended weekends. Employers are also more amenable to granting time off if it is taken in bite-sized pieces and not a two-week stretch. This way your long-suffering co-workers do not have to try and fill in for you when you’re away. Also you do not run the risk of being discovered to be expendable.

If you have not been harboring a desire to see a particular place at a particular time (like Washington D.C. during the cherry blossom festival) then let your fingers do the walking on your computer keyboard and search for the top places to visit. Depending on your location and interests, compile a list. Next, whittle it down to a short list based on your next line of online inquiry: airline and hotel sites. Since I do not have the benefit of being you and do not know your interests, for example only, we’ll use mine.


The time to find a real estate bargain in this hip Southern burb was the late 1980s. For the next twenty years this town was a thriving center for artists and free spirits. What has it become today? Only the biggest beer hall in the United States per capita with more breweries, brands of craft beers, and bars in which to enjoy a draft than anywhere else. And that interest draws a completely different crowd. Unique ABNB-type places to stay and eat make Asheville a mecca for all. Gift shops that feature locally sourced wares such as pottery, stained glass, mosaics, and handcrafted furniture tempt the walk-in trade. In addition to the commercial downtown, one can quickly escape for a hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains, consider a picnic. Forage online for discounted tickets to the area’s biggest attraction, Biltmore, or a ticket to this Vanderbilt mansion (the largest in the U.S.) will set you back over $60. Either way it is worth the spend.

Brooklyn/New York City

There is no chance that you will be able to take in all the sights and sounds of this region, so extend your stay, hop around to an assortment of B and Bs and.or short term rentals and make like a local. Whatever your focus, music, art, theatre, architecture, sports, it is all here and there is something to do 24/7/365. Did I forget food? OMG you will not know where to chow down next! For every 4-star restaurant you could not afford even if you could get in, there are legions of food trucks whose cuisine is just as magnificent and as varied. For this about to be former New Yorker, I know that it is when you are tired of New York and its environs that you are tired of life. So prepare to be exhausted when you leave. In a good way!


Like Asheville, affordable housing went out with the 80s as the bumper sticker slogan, ‘“Don’t Californicate Washington/Oregon” began to proliferate. With its bustling seaside tourism (the fish market) and stellar coffee (Starbucks’ birthplace), Seattle is hard to beat. If you’re left of center, the offbeat charm of Portland will be more to your liking. Sweet toothed or not, a stop at VooDoo Donut with its unique fried offerings is an absolute must. Some folks have even taken their wedding vows there! Try the creme-filled maple bacon doughnut that originated on the premises. Nirvana on a plate!


Think of Chicago as a smaller Manhattan minus Gotham’s elitism. People actually smile at you when you walk down the street. Crime is lower, too. Chi-town’s architecture is stunning, the winds off the lake-front bracing, the neighborhoods welcoming, and the food scene ever evolving. Not to be missed are the sweeping views of the skyline from a wide selection of dining establishments like Cindy’s or the Signature Room at the 95th (floor). There is art and culture here, too. Mass transit is decent, and with discounts, the grand hotels are more affordable. Just come.


If you found New Orleans too raucous for your liking, come experience the bygone refinement and gentility that is Charleston. Much of the city’s pre-Civil war-era grandeur and charm has been preserved, as if in a time capsule. There is no sense of hustle in Charleston, it is as authentic as it ever was. Languid plantations with exquisite gardens, groves of towering swamp maples festooned with Spanish moss, art galleries, entertainment venues, and cultural centers- go explore! When the pace becomes too relaxed, get your blood going with some fishing, golf on a world-class course, or try a distillery tour, sing along at a piano bar, or join a pub crawl. All this, horse-drawn carriages, and Fort Sumter, too!

What to bring should not pose a problem. To pack for these quick getaways, just throw your weekend wardrobe into your suitcase. Don’t forget to pack any prescriptions- if you already use those daily pill packs then you’re set. Should you forget something major, remember that big box retailers will have everything you need from sunglasses,vitamins , flip flops, and swimsuits, so there’s no need to stress. If you have not been anywhere but your backyard in ages, even years, you owe it to yourself and to the economy to have some away time this year. Afterall, many of these urban areas derive a huge percentage of their revenue from the tourist economy. So do your part and get out there!