Private jets were once viewed as the luxury toys of the world’s elite, from royalty and popstars to high-flying CEOs. However, in recent years, the private travel industry has seen something of a boom, with more customers choosing private jet over commercial flights.
But aside from comfier seats and more leg room, what are the benefits of a private jet? How are people affording to fly this way? And why is chartering a private jet continuing to grow in popularity?
Private flights typically tend to offer shorter flight times. This is because commercial planes fly at an altitude of 35,000 feet, while private jets are able to fly higher, offering more direct routes. Also, there’s no need to arrive hours before your flight, as you can often board and depart within 15 minutes, and your travel time tends to be a lot shorter.
As you would expect, chartering a private jet means you are typically able to fly in comfort and style. In addition, private jets often have a better catering menu, and with less people on board, flyers are able to enjoy a more personalised experience in a private and more relaxing setting. You can also take your laptop on board, too, so there’s no worry about the electronics ban.
Due to the size of commercial flights, the number of departure and arrival points is limited to larger, often regional, airports. However, the size of private jets means they are able to utilise smaller, local airports, so you can arrive at a more convenient location. For example, in the U.S, commercial airlines can use 500 airports, while private jets can land at around 5000.
When booking a ticket with a commercial airline, you’re limited to the scheduled flight times, which can mean travelling at unsociable hours – never a good thing if you’re on a business trip and need to impress at a meeting. However, chartering a private jet allows you to travel when it’s convenient for you, so no arranging your day around a schedule.
This may be surprising, but flying on a private jet is actually becoming increasingly affordable. This is true of both empty leg flights or single seats, but the biggest bargain to be had is if you’re booking last minute, where flying private can be cheaper than commercial.
Flying on a private jet comes with a lot of benefits, such as better service and faster flight times. However, the growing popularity is likely due to the price. After all, why fly commercial when you can charter a private jet for a fraction of the cost?
With Memorial Day coming up, I thought it would be fitting to write about some cheap weekend getaway ideas. Because of many places of business being closed for this federal holiday, it makes for a great opportunity to take a mini-vacation. Your bank account may be unfortunately saying otherwise. Luckily, you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy a four-day weekend.
Cheap Getaway Ideas
Many of these suggestions can not only be planned last minute but on a budget as well.
Last Minute Planning = Last Minute Deals (Sometimes)
It is typically encouraged to plan your trips well in advance to ensure the best deals; however, you can certainly grab some last-minute deals by waiting to book your trip. Try GoLastMinute, which is a travel site that scours the internet for last-minute flight deals. Other common booking sites offer last minute deals as well, such as Expedia, where you can also find hotel and cruise deals. Sometimes it pays to procrastinate.
Book an AirBnB
You don’t necessarily have to fly somewhere to stay in a cool location. Many sweet spots are just a reasonable drive away, and if you have one in mind, you can save money by renting someone else’s home. AirBnB has become an increasingly popular option for tourists traveling on a dime, but you can book an entire vacation home as well through HomeAway. Stay in the mountains in Asheville, North Carolina, visit the Florida Keys, or even rent a home in Paris for your trip. Plus, with these options, you can save money on going out to eat every night by purchasing your own groceries.
No matter what part of the states you are in, there are great (and cheap) places that are only a drive away from your location. Here are a few suggestions:
If you’re in the East Coast, consider staying in Atlanta, Georgia; Asheville, North Carolina; Burlington, Vermont; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Dewey Beach, Delaware.
Atlanta, Georgia: Along with its awesome barbecue, Atlanta does not charge for you to visit one of its most historic landmarks, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park. With hotel rates as low as $39.94 over Memorial Day Weekend, you may want to add this to your list.
Asheville, North Carolina: I just visited Asheville last spring, and it was not only affordable, but one of my favorite locations to date. Parking is not much fun, but you can walk just about anywhere downtown that you want to go. Plus, you can go kayaking right on the French Broad River outside of town.
Burlington, Vermont: If you’re the outdoorsy type, Burlington will not let you down. Vermont is really popular in the fall season, so now may be a good time to visit when tourism is slower.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The City of Brotherly Love is the host of the famous Rocky stair climb scene at the Rodin Museum, which has a mere suggested $8 entry fee. Take advantage of public transportation to save on gas and parking fees, and visit some of the mircrobrews that host complimentary tours on Saturdays like the Yards Brewing Company.
Dewey Beach, Delaware: Dewey Beach is adjacent to Bethany Beach and Rehoboth Beach but is the cheapest option of the two. Hitting it before the big beach season will help you save on hotel options as well. You can, though, try HomeAway and rent someone’s house for the weekend for potentially less. If you’re hoping to go to a beach over Memorial Day Weekend, this is a great option.
For West Coast dwellers, you’ll find Portland, Oregon; San Antonio, Texas; Carmel Beach, California; Catalina Island, California; and Scottsdale, Arizona are some of the great spots for you to visit during Memorial Day weekend.
Portland, Oregon. Portland consists of a vibe that combines an outdoor feel to an urban area. You can visit the International Rose Test Garden, take some distillery or brewery tours, hit up a gallery walk, and more. Not to mention, they have some awesome flea markets you won’t want to miss.
San Antonio, Texas: San Antonio is full of free attractions, like the Alamo and their Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Market Square and the Japanese Tea Gardens are also attractions you can visit without spending a dime.
Carmel Beach, California: Drive down Highway 1 to see the rocky beach at Carmel Beach. Visit the small town full of boutiques and restaurants, do an art tour, surf, paddleboard, or go camping. This gem of a spot makes for a one of the many great cheap weekend getaway ideas without hurting your wallet.
Catalina Island, California: Believe it or not, now may be an ideal time to travel to Catalina Island right before the busy summer season starts. You may find the best rates during the week, though, instead of the weekend. You can book an average-rated hotel at a little more than $80, according to HotelPlanner. If you miss your chance to visit it now, the fall would be another time to visit due to the lack of crowds.
Scottsdale, Arizona: From parks to the arts district, you won’t be bored visiting Scottsdale. Check out this list of ten free things to do here.
Of course, you could drive to the nearest body of water, National Park, or state park and camp out for the weekend as well, which is always cheap to do. You could also become a tourist of your own area by trying a restaurant you have not had a chance to go to yet or do a tour of the area hosted by your local tourist bureau.
What cheap weekend getaway ideas would you add to the list?
Van life seems to be trending in recent years, and it’s a trend that very much interests me. There have been many times my boyfriend and I have contemplated living this lifestyle for a short period of our lives. It seems like a great way to explore the country and reconnect with what is important in life.
So, this week, I decided to do a little research about what it would take to take part in van life. On paper, it looks marvelous and care-free. But, is it really as great as it sounds? Let’s find out.
First of all, there are several sites dedicated entirely to van life, like this one. Turns out, van life is not such a new thing after all. Granted, the one mentioned is mostly just awe-inspiring photos of this lifestyle, but still dreamy nonetheless. What this movement celebrates, though, is home is not a location but a feeling…an experience. That is definitely something I can live with.
Sunsets like you’ve never seen, adventures, a simpler way of life, and stories that develop along the way…these aspects of this way of life all sound so appealing. But, what does it really take to live on the road and how much does it really cost you?
Before you start
Before even considering something like this, there will be initial expenses of course. Along with purchasing a van, you will most likely need to do some renovations to it in order to make it a suitable living space. This couple featured in Outside Magazine was able to renovate a cargo van they found on Craigslist simply by following a helpful online account. Spirit Van Life provides very specific details to followers on how to get turn your van into your home on the road.
While you can do the updates yourself to save costs, there are many details to know and keep in mind as you build your home on the road. In the minimal square feet, you will need to decide will this be used for long-term trips (a month or more at a time) or just shorter excursions. This will determine how much wattage you’ll need for electricity or if solar power is feasible for you (Solar Panels are roughly $450 a piece and a generator is around $400-$2,000, depending on how much solar power you want to use). Costs for updates can be $2,000 to $3,000 in repairs and supplies, depending on how customized you want to go. There are cargo vans available with most of the conversion already done for you available on sites like Craigslist, but you may end up paying more for the vehicle. These used vehicles seem to run, on average, anywhere from $1,600 to $10,000.
You could make the starting costs fit into a specified budget you create for such a venture; however, be realistic. You could luck out and spend $5,000 to $7,000 on the lower end and $10,000 to $12,000 on the higher end. To see if it is worth doing, see how much you would be saving versus renting an apartment each month with all bills included.
Another thing to think about before you begin is do you want a recreational vehicle or the van? With an RV, you likely have the luxury of a shower and toilet, but you have to pay to stay in RV parks while you have more flexibility with parking a van in public.
For the electrical work of your van, it may be worth hiring someone to do this to ensure it is done correctly. Again, you need to choose your source of power supply and know how much you’ll need for your adjusted lifestyle on the road. For instance, if you are a digital nomad, you may need a lot of electricity considering the amount of time you may spend on your computer. Because it will be for a much smaller space than your typical home, you may only have to pay a few hundred dollars for such work. Just do your price checking and align with your budget as best as possible.
Reaching out to friends with construction knowledge may be a great start for you and your new “home.”
With the vehicle logistics primarily out of the way, it’s time to weigh out the regular on-going costs of van life. Here is an idea of what to expect based on my research:
Fuel: How often you plan on driving around along with the weight of your van both obviously play key parts in your gas mileage. I would expect to get less than 20 miles to the gallon. If you plan on being flexible on your travels, you can map out your gas and fill up in areas where gas is cheapest. If you plan on driving up to 1,000 miles per month you may be spending $200 or more in fuel alone.
Food. Don’t overdo it with your food. One thing people seemed to mention consistently was how food can go quicker in vans, especially in hot weather conditions. Van lifers, as I’ll call them, suggest not buying more than you can realistically consume in a decent amount of time. Limit your restaurant eating to help save your budget and look for farmer’s markets instead. Plan your meals out to avoid food being wasted. Because you aren’t buying as many groceries, you should expect to spend less in a month on the road than you would living in a house or apartment. But, depending on the quality and type of food you purchase (organic, non-GMO, etc.), you may be looking at close to $120 per week in groceries. This amount can definitely be reduced though.
Parking. Depending on where you are in the country, you may have some great opportunities for parking by a view. Highway 101 rest stops in the West Coast have several beautiful stops along with cleaner restroom facilities. A Walmart parking lot is always a good go-to from 10 p.m. on. Chances are, you’ll also run into quite a few other van-lifers. Lastly, another common option would be camping sites as they are available. There are some really affordable camping options out there, and we bet they will still be cheaper than staying in a hotel.
Gym memberships. Say what? Yes. It appears that some of the folk in van life purchase corporate gym memberships so that they have access to a shower while on the road. Not a bad idea considering a membership at Planet Fitness is $10 per month. Plus, it is a nice way to maintain activity if you aren’t very active on the road (my guess is, you still are). But, another option for hygiene are truck stops that may offer showers at a fee as low as $10. Plan on taking limited showers while on the road.
Internet services. While some people get by with free WiFi in public places while traveling, that may not be a realistic option for writers like me with regular deadlines. You could use your cell phone as a hot spot or look into 4G internet services.
One thing to keep in mind for van life, other than the initial costs and keeping aside money for any unexpected expenses, is the fact that some cities do not legally permit you to park on the street if you are living in your van. In those areas, it will be best to stay at a campsite. Luckily, the Bureau of Land Management offers free camping on public land as it is available.
There can surprisingly be a lot of costs that go into van life, but planning ahead will help to prepare you financially as much as possible. You don’t need to buy and fix up a van all at once; spread it out over the course of the year and take a little time researching and planning this new life.
Is this something you’ve been wanting to do or have done? If so, what would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.