Category Archives: Money-saving

Top 5 Adventure Gift Sites: If Ya Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em, On Your Terms

Like spawning salmon, we’ve entered a season where we find ourselves swimming mightily in search of something that is almost beyond our understanding.  This shopping season can be a difficult beast to navigate but On A Dime believes it can be tamed.

Today we’re keeping our taming simple and posting some links to aid in shopping for the adventurer in your life. We realize no commission or gain from these sites, we’re only passing them along in the hope that you experience a more relaxed version of what can be a very stressful and chaotic time.

Next week we’ll talk about ways to banish the seasonal blues but heads up, begin by creating a budget and sticking to it. This can make all the difference in the world. We know first hand as we’ve had both the success and the fail-years in this pursuit.

So, cover us, we’re going in.

1) GEAR TRADE – Discount gear and this site is in keeping with our On A Dime spirit.

2) GREAT OUTDOOR DEALS – Daily coupons and discounts on gear.

3) REI OUTLET – Through Monday Dec. 1st coupon for 30% off of one item. We swear by REI’s integrity and customer service.

4) SIERRA TRADING POST – Discounts in effect and some hefty sale items.

5) CAMPSAVER – Deals and promotions happening right now on gear.

*We shared 5 sites that you can shop from without having to pull into the mall parking lot but we also want to share a sixth that allows you to not have to pull out your wallet.

6) SHARE – no link for this. We’re talking gear exchange and/or gear co-op. Reach out and connect with a hiking/camping community or stir it up and try for the creation of one via social media and share gear. I’ve loaned my gear and gone on combined trips where everyone contributes. This will encourage camaraderie as well as a healthier pocketbook. You deserve moments of Zen and they are possible with a little planning. Skip shopping for a bunch of shiny object/junk in December and instead shop for like-minded friends that shelve the toxicity in their lives in favor of healthy, creative pursuits and you are on your way.

Feel free to “like”/share to Facebook and/or Tweet if you’d like. We’re always grateful.  🙂

6 Reasons To Try A Hostel

Teri’s collection of hilarious essays are on Amazon! Grab them now!

Hostels are no longer just for college kids traveling Europe, they are for everyone and everyone is taking notice. If you doubt it, check out Hi Hostels/Hostelling International. Hostels can be found in a large number of locales with new ones being added constantly.  They are worth exploring and that’s a fact.

We’ve bunked right outside of Yosemite and climbed Half Dome and Nevada Falls, walked the black sand beach at the Marin Headlands, beachcombed and hot-tubbed at the base of a lighthouse, on the ocean at Pigeon Point. We’ve enjoyed the incredible views at Point Montara, got our Zen on at the Point Reyes Hostel, and swung energetic in the bustling beach town of Santa Cruz. Whatever you crave, there is a hostel for you.

Below we’ve compiled 6 reasons to check out a hostel as well as six different California hostels we’ve visited and recommend.

1) Save Money – Flat out, they are cheaper than hotels in almost every single case.  We stayed oceanfront along Pacific Coast Highway in California for under $80 a night for a private room, shared bath, at a lighthouse.

2) Family Friendly – Yes, we have found them to be family friendly with the ones we’ve booked offering private rooms. Also available are full/community kitchens if you like to cook. We had homemade seafood chowder that I brought along in the cooler when we visited San Francisco and then walked on the black sand beach at sunset, again under $80 for a private room.

3) Experience Culture – You will absolutely encounter people from all over the world and if you enjoy socializing, there are always fellow travelers looking to exchange information on hot spots in any city. If hearing a multitude of other languages floats your boat like it does mine, you will be in for a treat.

4) They’re Clean – With the exception of one individually owned hostel not up to par on cleanliness, we found them all to be clean and well maintained. That said, they are not slick and formulaic like hotels, however, HI Hostels has raised the bar on the many they run and decorated them beautifully.

5)  Reservations Accepted – You can plan ahead and grab private rooms or fly by the seat of your pants and hope for an empty spot as dorm rooms are more easily snapped up on short notice during peak times.

6) Amenities Abound – These are not stark dorm-style accommodations. Hostels are varied and offer fun individual perks so always ask. There is a day spa at the Yosemite Bug that is very relaxing and cost-friendly, offering massage, yoga, and herbal baths as well as a cafe that sells beer and wine for your post-spa spirits while the Pigeon Point Hostel ponies up an ocean-side hot tub that is for rent by the hour and it’s located at the base of a lighthouse.

Below are the hostels we’ve stayed at and enjoyed in California. We’d love to hear of your experiences staying in hostels and your tips for creating a successful get-away by utilizing this money-saving alternative.

“Like”/share to Facebook or Tweet if you wish. We’re always grateful. 🙂

Point Montara Hostel

Limontour sunset (1)This beach is ten minutes from the Point Reyes Hostel

Santa Cruz hostel

Santa Cruz Hostel (check times allowed in rooms on this one)

Black Sand Beach at sunset

Black Sand Beach, 5 minute walk from the Marin Headlands Hostel which is minutes from San Francisco

Early morning view of the bridge from the Marin Headlands

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands hiking area

Pigeon Pt.Pigeon Point Hostel

Bug 002

Yosemite Bug hike to the seasonal waterfall

5 Great/Cheap Locales & Links

On occasion – ok frequently – here at On A Dime we extoll doing as we say and not as we did. In other words, skip sleeping in the car during a lightning storm but be sure to enjoy the sunset (calm) before the said storm.

This list, links, and overview offer some 20/20 hindsight from our recent road trip that will have you bypassing snafus in favor of success and we’ve broken it down into a concise little list to aid in visiting these awesome places. More in-depth articles to follow on individual areas of interest.

1) ZION (UTAH) – Utah’s first national park and well worth the time to visit. Do as we say, take time. We did this in too big of a hurry due to weather and enjoyed a hike in The Narrows but will return to explore more in depth. Weather, and we’re saying it again as it determines so powerfully how the visit goes and if you can roll with speeding things up – like we did – or delaying them then weather’s impact can be lessened. Absolutely take the EARLY shuttle from the visitor center as the popular hikes get more crowded throughout the day. Camp? Yes, however, make a reservation or get to the state campground at the noon checkout time for first come/first serve.  And here are your links. General Info. Camping (1/2 mile from the entrance). Free camping? Yes but always check current status by reading comments at the bottom of the camp listing.

2) GRAND CANYON (NORTH RIM ARIZONA) – This experience was so close to perfect that we cannot wait for the article to share. **Update – here’s our article on FREE camping at the north rim! We would’ve hit perfect if not for the weather, we endured a nasty lightning storm. This are is free. No park fees, no camp fee and there is a stunning view as well as trailhead within the camping area. You will traverse 27 miles of dirt/rock road but our Hyundai made it just fine. And here are your links. General Info. Camping. Free Camping at Locust Point.

3) LAKE POWELL (ARIZONA & UTAH) – In terms of lakes, you cannot go wrong with Lake Powell. The park entrance fee is $15 for 7 days but then the camping, ON THE BEACH, is free. You can choose fee camping at the resort or free camping and this place is heaven. And here are your links. General Info.  Camping fee and free. Top Ten Beaches.

4) PALO DURO CANYON (TEXAS) – We’re talking Texas and it’s pretty grand which is why this canyon is touted as the mini grand canyon. The soil is red and the sunrises and sunsets are stunning. We spent $5 per head to enter the park and then $12 per night to camp. There are a number of camping choices but none offer rim view sites. Recommended book to take along, LONESOME DOVE by Larry McMurtry. And here are your links. General Info. Camping. Free camping (an hour away, Lake Meredith, all sites are FREE looks worth investigating and we were sad to not have the opportunity).

5) WICHITA WILDLIFE REFUGE (OKLAHOMA) – If you ever wonder what it might have been like over a hundred years ago when Bison roamed free, wonder no more. You can camp on the Wichita Wildlife Refuge where Bison and Longhorns roam free. That’s correct, they’re not fenced in and it is stunning to see them placidly grazing on the open range. And here are your links. General Info. Camping.

These five stop-offs offer freebies and very inexpensive fees. If you are in any of these areas or road tripping, put them on your list and sit back and enjoy the money that is still in your pocket.

“Like” our page on Facebook and/or Tweet if you wish, we are always grateful.

Hike Narrows

DREAMS – 6 Tools For Making A Dreamy Trip

A dreamy get-away, that’s what we all need. Just some moments of adventure, fun, and respite. But going from the daydream to reality requires rolling up the sleeves and making it happen. It also demands that we eschew the naysayer in our brain that starts in with the excuses of, “it’s too much money, too much time away, not enough ideas of where to go, no idea of how to pull it off”.

You deserve to seize moments that belong only to you and your loved ones and friends. In America we generally spend 50 weeks a year and receive roughly 2 weeks to call our own. If you truly sit with that, it’s pretty unbalanced. So what is the answer if that breakdown cannot be changed? Weekends. Days off. They are yours, take them. And this post is designed to get you started turning D.R.E.A.M.S. into reality with these steps.

1) D as in Design. Research has shown that the pre-planning time for vacations is good for the psyche and this is not anything we’d argue after seeing friends glow when talking about an upcoming vacation. So, get busy and DESIGN your trip. Be joyfully honest in assessing how you want to spend your time. Just because your Facebook buddy posted fantastic photos of river rafting class 5 rapids does not mean it’s the perfect fit for you. I personally love hiking – to what many people think are scary places – but I am not an adrenaline junkie. I like the Zen of being in the scary places but things like rock scrambling or jumping off cliffs into water are not my bag of tricks while hiking a solid, wide trail to high altitude and heavenly views, is. Figure out what you like and go from that point on.

2) R as in Reach. Reach for new terrain. In other words, if you are trying to travel within a budget that is more frugal than previous get-aways, reach for accommodations that aren’t as luxurious and then if you can shave money off the total, splurge on your final day. See our Big Sur breakdown for exactly how we did (and often do) this. If you’ve hosteled before, try camping, if you were strictly hotel material previously, try hostels. If you are in need of free lodging, try house swap or couchsurfing.

3) E as in Ease. Ease into a new plan for vacationing. Try couchsurfing for 2 days on a weekend away or house swap for a short period of time. Camp for a weekend and if you are intrigued by backpacking, a single overnight is a good plan and plenty of places are set up for 3 miles or less to hike into the backcountry. Yosemite’s Sunset Trail is 3 miles and it is stunning. It’s also uphill for a good part of it. Ease into new food choices. Eating out can blow out a budget in record time. Cook ahead and save eating out for a treat. Our camp-cooking article will aid in cooking in the wild and see the links at the bottom of that page for two amazing camp cooking websites.

4) A as in Aim. Aim for moments of wonder. Rather than focusing on pricey tourist destinations, shift the goal to one of aiming for wonder. Though the Grand Canyon charges $25 a car to enter the park, the multiple moments of wonder are too numerous to count. And Yosemite sees millions of visitors every year of which only a small percentage spend more than several hours in the park.

I suffer from the more is better affliction and used to be guilty of trying to cram as much as I could into a short amount of time. I still struggle with this but now strive to slow down and absorb moments of awe. Go ahead, hike 1/2-1 mile down into the Grand Canyon on the Kaibab Trail  or Bright Angel and just bask in the magnificence.

5) M as in Meet. Meet challenges with humor as often as you can. There will be unexpected moments, take it from a pro in this domain. From kids (with messy rooms) texting lectures on cleanliness (go figure) on a delayed 50th birthday weekend that had roared to a start with a migraine and high winds, to another kid breaking their 4th bone, ten minutes after arriving at the birthday location, well there will be unanticipated moments. And what was the solution to this upended trip? Not going to lie, tears, a cookout, and some ice cold beer and a giving-in to the chaos. And in the end, a decision to absolutely absorb the most stunning sunset ever, followed the next day by hours of warm sun and kids kayaking which brings us to…

6) S as in Savor. Savor every joyous second you are gifted with. When life gives you lemons, don’t just make lemonade. Make it, sip it slowly, take in the hue of the liquid, inhale the aroma, and all the rest. Wax poetic on that glass of lemonade or as it was in my case, the several hours that the entire motley crew were frolicking in boats and kicking back on the beach.

Too many get-aways are a frenzied, running of place to place when all that was really needed was to be present to a teeny-tiny moment that was unequaled in beauty. Savor the weekend, savor the day off, and savor the hours that you create. You are brilliant, like sun glinting off the early morning lake, when you sit at that lake, sipping an early morning java or tea, and fully own that moment.

It is our hope that you open up a travel book, spread out some maps, and start dreaming. Life Is In Session.

We’re dreamy grateful when you “like” and/or share to Facebook as well as Tweet.

Sunrise 2

5 Things To Know About Free Camping

Teri Clifton’s collection of hilarious essays, THE THINGS I CANNOT DO, is now available on Amazon for under $5 and includes her misfit Mount Whitney summit.

Here at On A Dime, we talk about free camping a lot, a whole lot. We lead off our lodging article with freebie camping. Obviously, staying somewhere for absolutely no cost is pretty outrageous but for those of you who have never done this, you may wonder if it is too good to be true. Here are your answers.

1) IS IT REALLY FREE? Yes. It really is free, however, we would not want to leave out amazing campsites that cost very little so we include those anytime we have them available as well. Backcountry/backpacking is free or darn near free in most areas and a whole different experience from developed campsites. *Great example of free camping was on the north rim of the Grand Canyon!

Campsite along the river
Campsite along the river in the Hoh Rain Forest

2) ARE THEY REALLY NICE? We don’t feature any sites that we consider unappealing for any reason. We encourage you to Google sites for info but then also absolutely search for photos! Here is an example of freebie camping at Gumboot Lake photos (not taken by On A Dime) in the Mt. Shasta, CA area. Having been there, we can confirm that these photos accurately represent the campground.

On A Dime photo of Gumboot from a campsite

3) DO THEY HAVE RUNNING WATER? Not always and this is very important to note. We feel it is also not a bad idea to travel with adequate jugs of water anyway. Car trouble in rural areas with no water is no fun.

$5 camping at Tuttle Creek, approx. 10 miles from Whitney and elevation 5,120
$5 camping at Tuttle Creek, approx. 10 miles from Mt. Whitney, CA and elevation 5,120

4) WHAT ABOUT BATHROOMS? Also a wild card but often they’ll have pit toilets and for the most part, we’ve had luck in that they’ve been pretty clean and odor-free. Come prepared w/ a small garden hand shovel and be prepared to dig and cover. If you’d like a giggle, know that on multiple camp trips when the kids were little, this On A Dimer brought the kiddie potty with plastic bag liners and more than one adult was known to utilize it as well. This also comes in handy during car travel with wee ones needing to wee-wee.

Sunrise Lake Yosemite, no bathroom and 3 mile hike in
Fall is in the air
Fall is in the air in Kansas and yes, Elk City has bathrooms

5) IS IT SAFE? That is up to interpretation and asking the rangers in the area is beyond smart. We’ve had wonderful experiences and passionately love the pristine and Zen energy the non-fee sites  offer. Only once did we feel uncomfortable and leave due to there being no one in the area except a lone and unseen camper in a cave. This turned out to be kismet after a park ranger offered us an alternate site in an area nearby that turned out to be stunning and offered a view of the mountain range that houses Mount Whitney. Remember that there is safety in numbers and you save even more money (see Grand Canyon article) by splitting more ways!

*Fire, critter, and food safety? Check this link.

Finally, go ahead and try some free camping and enjoy spending your hard-earned, adventure dollars elsewhere. You deserve it!

Share to Facebook and/or Tweet it if you like it and thank you tons!

Grand cyn sunset
Grand Canyon, North Rim has some dispersed camping, south rim we camped at Mather for $28 w/ amenities
Kings Canyon $40 each for the whole weekend

7 Cost-Friendly Ideas For 4th of July

We recently had the good fortune of not spending a fortune and yet greatly enjoying some beautiful moments.

Backcountry Hoh Rain Forest, WA. $9 total for the permit and overnight for 2 people

Now we’re looking to bring you the links to places across the land that are offering On A Dime activities for the 4th of July but also for anytime.

1) Check out the best FREE 4th of July events at national parks and get out and grab some fun and if you want even more information look at The National Park Foundation website. Hankering to lock down next year’s 4th in the Grand Canyon? Here’s one link about the festivities and also our link that breaks down inexpensive lodging.

Grand Canyon

2) Last minute travel. Here at On A Dime, we avoid vacationing on the holidays as generally it’s a bit crowded, however, the backcountry is doable. We’ve trekked Yosemite’s wilderness and climbed Half Dome on two Independence Days and had great luck. So, if you want to head out last minute, our best advice would be backcountry or dispersed camping. Before heading into the backcountry, call the ranger station to secure any needed permits.

3) Stay home. That’s right, save your money and stay in. You can make your own celebration, your way, on your budget.  If you wanna get really cash conscious, check out these amazing and easy homemade desserts!


4) Break out the games for kids and let your day unfold in a casual manner

5) Camp at home. Just throw up the tent, bring out the s’mores, and watch the fireworks from home.

Campsite along the river
Campsite along the river

6) Teens? Show theme movies such as Independence Day and make red, white, and blue popcorn.

7) Romantic 4th of July, you bet! These ideas will have the sparks flying.

Now, in the spirit of transparency and sharing that every single moment is not necessarily an adventure, this on a dimer has no 4th of July plans and will be going with the flow. We’ll see what unfolds and who knows, perhaps an adventure will appear.

On A Dime hit the 2,000 “like” mark on Facebook this week and we wish to offer a huge show of gratitude to all the dreamers and adventurers who’ve shown us the love. Powerfully grateful to everyone and as always, feel free to share and/or Tweet.

Free Flowers

Free flower power is what we are celebrating in our post today and if you are in N. California or Oregon, do not miss these freebies!


We discovered Oregon’s Botanical Gardens, in Shore Acres State Park, and talk about an On A Dime Adventure/Life moment! This Garden of Eden is donation only and even the parking, at $5 for a coastal spot, is flat out heavenly. The $5 is paid once per day at any state park and good for all state parks visited on that same day or purchase a five-day pass for $10 per vehicle.

If camping is on your agenda along the Oregon coast, your options for on a dime fun are endless and we’ll have a full article in the next month on what we found near Bandon and Charleston.


Today, take a moment to stop and smell the roses and then get your trip planner out for Oregon!

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9 Bold And Free Vacation Links

This Wednesday’s blog celebrates the bold and the free, as in the inspiration gained when you learn from your kids. Last Saturday the eldest On A Dime child returned from college – with degree in hand – and made good on an offer to write a blog post. This On A Dime creator was thrilled to sip a glass of wine and shout invaluable pointers into the other room such as, “don’t forget the Oxford commas; adventurers always need those while traveling!” The child – in response – took my wine away.

I was left footloose and fancy-free while my guy handled the usual tech challenges, which included the weekly undoing of damage I’d done while randomly pushing buttons and my little (big) girl tackled the creative. Too much down time can be dangerous, I realized, as I added in links to the sites we purchase gear from and pondered what I would do with the millions in commission money that awaited me from said links. I studied the spread sheet for several days and concluded I could safely spend… a little less than nothing.

And, fellow travelers, the weird part is that the financial challenge energized me nicely. On A Dime’s goal of enhanced quality of life for less financial outlay is evolving into a sweeter philosophy, one that begs a return to community and good old-fashioned give and take. So when the college kid handed in her article on Couchsurfing, I felt it was a call to something bigger than saving a hotel bill and promptly signed up. As of yesterday, I committed to couchsurf my way back down the coast in a few weeks.

Couchsurfing heads up our list of the 9 bold things to consider when dreaming of a vacation, and conserving cash is only one bonus that these nine pony up. We can confidently state that Couchsurfing is justified in going number one on our list as the article on it exploded our website in popularity, but it is not the only – out of the box – consideration, so here we go. Let’s get bold and free.

1) FREE COUCH – Couchsurfing. We could take the easy way here and tout the fact that surfing an individual’s couch (sleeping on it) is free but that would miss a huge part of the equation. Couchsurfing is for those who wish to connect on a deeper level with the places they visit. Motel 6 has its place but an individual’s home and the beautiful hospitality that is offered cannot be duplicated by a corporation. The On A Dime kid wrote glowingly of Couchsurfing and also broke down the “do’s and don’ts” involved. Check out her article and boldly head out on a journey where the lodging is free and the hospitality is stunning.

View from my host's balcony in Amsterdam
View from my host’s balcony in Amsterdam

2) FARMING – WWOOF – Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms – Yep, it’s free. You put in 4-6 hours help on an organic farm in exchange for accommodations and food. Beautiful connections, beautiful experience. Bold and free.

Our hosts' windowsill in Bergen, Norway
Our hosts’ windowsill in Bergen, Norway

3) BIKING – Warm Showers offers a variety of freebies to those deciding to vacation via cycling. Depending on the host, you can receive warm showers (obviously), free camping, places to stay, meals and drinks. A biking vacation? Pretty darned bold!

4) CLEARING TRAILS – Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation – Free trips (food included) into the wilderness in exchange for 8 hr. work days spent restoring the trails. Located in Montana. You choose trips according to your ability with grades of “easy, moderate, and strenuous”.


5) HELPING HAND – Workaway. exactly as their site proclaims, A few hours honest help per day in exchange for food and accommodation and an opportunity to learn about the local lifestyle and community, with friendly hosts in varying situations and surroundings. 

6) CAMP FOR FREE – Dispersed Camping – Yes, we put this on every single list for freebies because we are determined to make more travelers aware of this jewel. Check our links on this and also ask (call ahead!) at the ranger station in the area you are headed. We cannot state this enough, many of the sites offer solitude and unspoiled beauty that cannot be duplicated in fee campsites.

7) FRIENDS – That’s right. We have social media and it’s time we tame the beast and make it our own. More people should simply be bold and put it out there that they want to travel to a certain area and try and arrange lodging swaps.

Hammock time
Hammock time

8) VOLUNTEER – Cross Cultural Solutions. Volunteer and experience cultural emersion in a safe and structured environment. This On A Dime creator volunteered for 3 weeks in Costa Rica and can vouch for Cross Cultural’s integrity and safety. The program is neither free nor cheap, however, they have a guide on how to raise the money required for the program and this proved successful in my experience with about 80% of my trip donated.

9) PAY IT FORWARD – Watch for 2015’s Pay It Forward Day but also enact this while traveling. If you have something to offer, consider sharing or exchanging. We’ve given away extra firewood, a dinner to a PCT hiker, and hilariously, received a 6 pack of beer left carefully at a campsite. In the backcountry we (ok, I) have cried with gratitude over donated power bars and Gatorade. The best bold and free thing we can take advantage of is the joy derived from our own generosity so here’s hoping that we can offer the couchsurfing hosts something equal to their hospitality, perhaps a bottle of wine, a potted plant or the bold and free offer of doing the dishes.

On A Dime heads out on an adventure for the next 18 days to Lake Tahoe, the coast of Oregon, and the backcountry of Washington and we’ll be looking for the best freebies to pass along. If you also have secret money-savers, please let us know.

Feel free to share on Facebook and/or Tweet. We are always grateful. <3

10 Vacation Money Savers

If you are pining to get out of town and the urge for a vacation hit yesterday, last week, last month, it’s not too late so let’s get it started. The goal of On A Dime Adventure is to share ideas for getaways without spending a fortune and after a recent money-saving article‘s popularity, we’re looking to provide more information that encourages travel for less cost.


1) LODGING – Yes, we here at On A Dime rely heavily on camping (see #2) for a small fee or dispersed for free, however, we completely “get” that there are non-campers so here you go. Hostels. Yep, they have gone mainstream and offer private rooms for less than hotels. You most likely will need a reservation in the peak season but if you come up empty-handed, call for last minute cancellations. We are in no way suggesting the kind of luck we had is a given but we did score last minute accommodations via cancellations for a group of 6 on 4th of July, two years in a row at the Yosemite Bug which offers a day spa as well as beer and wine in the restaurant.  After a hearty Half Dome visit, this hostel offered an amazing respite. The photo below was our view from the Montara Hostel on the coast of California. Check out our article on COUCHSURFING, written by guest blogger, Lexie Davis.

View from our room
View from our room

2) CAMPING – This is the best way to spend no money or to save a lot of money and we depend on a strategy that has been successful repeatedly. We camp first, hostel or cabin second, and then hotel for our final night. We save big time as is illustrated on this trip to Big Sur. If you compare our camping, cabin, and hotel fees, you’ll see the savings created by combining rather than spending the entire time at the hotel.

3) ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS – These ideas rock the little ones and make for some inexpensive fun for the parents as well.

4) BEACH GETAWAYS – This link makes a very good point in the money-saving game, stay close to home. Whatever body of water is closest, explore that first. To drive this home, we are including photos of Lake Texoma a huge body of water that lands 1/2 in Oklahoma and 1/2 in Texas.


tealights = ambiance
tealights = ambiance

Obviously, the ocean is lovely but there are amazing lakes that are stunning and off the beaten path. Below is Elk City State Park in Kansas.

Kansas $15 a night
Kansas $15 a night

5) AMUSEMENT PARKS – Go ahead and jump on Priceline for all-inclusive packages. This will be your best bet. The  On A Dime strategy in peak season is to get a good package and perhaps consider bringing food to the park and storing it in a locker. Heed this warning, water bottles are expensive so go ahead and bring personal (non-glass) bottles to fill from the fountains and, if you desire, powdered flavor packets like lemonade.

Sta Monica Pier2

6) NATIONAL PARKS – Here’s a timeless article on some of the stunning sites that are not to be missed. Personal experience at the Grand Canyon allows us to impart to travelers that as the day wears on, the lines to get in the parks can swell. Be an early bird and avoid the wait and the crowds.

7) GOLF VACATIONS – This link was billed as cheap golf vacations but we here at On A Dime feel it’s more in line with less expensive as golf is never truly cheap. That said, for the rabid golfers, this link does provide ideas on spending less.

8) HOUSE SWAP – Just like it sounds. Trade your house for one in your vacation location and save hugely. Adventurers, many of you are in contact with friends/family all over the world via social media. Consider swapping with someone in your circle. Also check out Airbnb for cheaper accommodations offered by private individuals. You’ll have the opportunity to choose lodging in a variety of locales with a variety of styles. Prices vary. Also Vacation By Owner (VRBO) for private homes for less overall cost. We’ve used VRBO a number of times and never had a bad experience.

9) FOOD – If eating out, SPLIT. The end. Portions are almost always way too much for one person so split your meal but please tip your waitstaff as if you’d purchased individual meals. 🙂 The service is not halved when the food is split.  The photo below is an actual breakfast for less than $10 at the Mount Whitney portal and the pancake is the bomb in flavor as well as size!

BRK Portal

10) SAVE ON GAS – Friends, we cannot impress upon you enough that sharing transportation greatly cuts your travel cost. This link offers ride sharing and possibly an opportunity to connect with other like-minded adventurers. If you feel better with buddies rather than strangers, spread the word. Share costs with another family and watch your SUV gas cost shrink by splitting it up at the pump. We managed a $40 dollar (per person) weekend by going as a group and it was a joyful time around the campfire with friends.

Share on Facebook and Tweet. Our gratitude cup runneth over.


1,2,3… GO! Summertime Freebies!

The ONE, TWO, THREES of freebie joyfulness.

Summer is on the way and free is on the agenda. Free to eat a slice of watermelon while watching fireflies work their magic, free to picnic during concerts in the park, and free to explore some low-cost and no-cost activities. The following three ideas are designed to encourage those pinching pennies to not also pinch rest and relaxation.

1) FREE ACTIVITIES – Concerts in the park, potlucks with friends or neighbors, weekly spirited walkabouts or runabouts for the kids (have everyone bring their own drink and take a group walk through the neighborhood). Consider a neighborhood garage sale day and use your profits for leisure. If the creation of a more cohesive community appeals, have a neighborhood potluck after the garage sale. Provide name tags and have everyone write, in addition to their name, something they’d like to share about themselves to spark conversations.


Other free ideas are blanket stargazing, farmers’ market visits, bonfire in your fire pit, group dog walking, library speakers and free classes, book signings, poetry, and art. Many communities offer enrichment days with sidewalk chalk art, chili cook-offs, and activities in local parks.


2) HOBBY – Just one. That’s all you need. Brainstorm up a free or nearly free hobby and try it out. Here are a few suggestions from the most kickback to a couple of adrenaline boosters. If they seem a bit daunting, pack up a picnic and enjoy watching the daredevils go after it. Biking, dirt biking, skateboarding, photography (Instagram is free), and gardening – we planted kale and sunflowers last summer for under $10. Or as one artist recently shared on Facebook, make a natural teepee vine trellis with inexpensive bamboo poles from your local garden center and pick the beans as they appear.


What about surfing, kayaking, hiking, bowling (an excellent one for hot days), juggling, magic, camping, and the obvious – water-play? The soaker balls are very inexpensive and a blast to dunk in even a bucket and toss at one another. We’re not just talking for kids on this one; adults can recreate childhood silliness and find that this is a guaranteed stress reliever.


Short on adventure-loving friends? No problem. Check out Meet Up, an online forum that brings people together to participate in hobbies. There is no charge for joining in and using the service. We once happened upon and took a, donation only, meditation cruise on a sailboat via this site.

3) HOME TURF – It’s your state, explore it. Mended Wheels is a phenomenal website that shares freebies throughout the country’s entire 50 states.

Don’t wait until August and then say, “sure wish we would have…”. Your rearview mirror can reflect a summer that was a perfect blend of inexpensive relaxation and celebration.


We are awarded a finite number of summers and, at the very maximum, it usually tops out at 80-100. How many do you have left and what do you want to do with them? We know money can be an issue and we here at On A Dime are hoping that this article offered hard-working dreamers some ideas for much deserved and less expensive respite.

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