We found the best things to do in Concord New Hampshire - all while on a tight budget. But could we save enough to make our $200 travel challenge a success?
I often start a lot of blog posts by explaining that a certain destination has been on my travel bucket list for a long time, or that I've read a lot about a place and thus jumped at the chance to visit when an opportunity presented itself. But not Concord. The state capital of New Hampshire wasn't on my radar, not one little bit, when we booked our trip. However, travel in general was on my mind in a big way. I had returned from the always inspiring Women in Travel Summit and was highly motivated to see more of the cities around me. I instructed Ryan to find a place within a 6 hour drive that would cost $50 a night and, just like that, I was researching the best things to do in Concord NH, making lists of local cheap eats, and getting excited to discover something new.
The end result was one of the best spontaneous travel decisions we've ever made. Concord NH is just LOVELY! And it was filled with all sorts of me-ish places to explore. From an amazing bookstore to a delicious doughnut stand - I was hooked! But, of course, I wasn't in Concord just to have a great time. I was thinking of all my dear readers as well! I wanted to put Concord to the test with my $200 Challenge. The premise is simple enough. Can two people travel for two days and spend just $200? The $200 Challenge has to include clean, safe accommodations with a hot shower, three proper meals a day, and enough activities to fill two days. With past Challenges including London, Boston, and Washington, DC, how would Concord hold up?
Washington DC sightseeing is budget friendly travel! Here's how we explored Washington DC in 2 days with just $200 on hand.
When I announced my intentions to tackle budget travel in Washington DC in 2 days, people were skeptical. REALLY skeptical. When I further clarified that I was targeting the city for my next $200 Challenge (two people travel for two days and just spend $200), folks were downright incredulous. In fact, one friend warned me that she once had to spend $600 for a "cheap" hotel in the city center! But I wasn't worried. For when it came to Washington DC sightseeing on a budget, I had an ace up my sleeve. After all, I live and work in a capital city. I figured I knew all the secrets to cheap eats and free activities in a political town.
But did I? Planning a 2 day trip to Washington DC was about to test my budgeting chops! With my good friend and fellow blogger Hannah from Eat Sleep Breathe Travel by my side though, I was up for the adventure.
We faced new budget challenges in New Hampshire.
When we first conceived of the$200 Challenge - can two people travel for two days and spend just $200? - we knew a key factor in our success or failure would lie in our ability to target the right destination. We needed destinations that were slightly overlooked in favor of more popular neighbours. We needed destinations that were a little less trendy and a little less touristy. We needed destinations where our dollar would go just a little bit further. And Portsmouth, New Hampshire ticked all those boxes - and a little bit more.
Occasionally in the shadow of its neighbors, Boston and Portland, Portsmouth had been described to me as a city with an actual working port, not just a waterfront attraction. A city where the shoulder season moves at a slow, leisurely pace. A city with loyal fans but also one that plenty of people haven't even heard of.
I was immediately drawn to this combination of seaside town, working city, and slowly emerging tourist magnet. I knew I would love Portsmouth - but would my budget? And could the $200 Challenge possible succeed in pricey New England?
Traveling to Providence on a budget? Here's how to save.
"Um...... Does that include lodgings?" Skepticism and doubt are the hallmark of any good $200 Travel Challenge and when we told people we were planning to go to Providence, Rhode Island, for two days and spend just $200, they were skeptical. VERY skeptical.
And I was more than a little skeptical myself. This challenge was a last minute addition to a pre-existing trip. I had only a few days to plan, research, and build lists, a sharp contrast to my usual long planning marathons. And while Providence isn't an outrageously expensive city, I worried that true budget travel opportunities would be few and far between. I was sure the trip would be fun, but I didn't know if it would be easy.
So how did we do and, more importantly, did we stay on budget? Here's how our weekend went down.
(A word about pricing: Past $200 Challenges have been in Canadian funds. Given the fluctuation in currency rates, it seemed easiest to work with US funds for this particular challenge.)
Boston On A Budget... With Lobster?
When I first conceived the $200 Challenge two years ago, the premise was fairly simple. Can two people travel for two days spending just $200, and can that travel actually be an enjoyable, quality experience? No dumpster diving, no sleeping on park benches - this had to be safe and fun!
Our first $200 Challenge took us to northern Vermont, where we enjoyed a beautiful campground, surrounded by the brilliant autumn foliage. Ever since, we've been challenging ourselves to make that $200 go even further. Campgrounds have given way to hostels and even hotels, while groceries and picnics rub shoulders with diners, bakeries, and cafes.
But are we ready for Boston - and can we really eat lobster?
Is Las Vegas Still A Budget Friendly Destination?
If money was no object, boy, would we all have some fun in Las Vegas! Sin City has enough temptation to bust any budget. Slot machines, fine restaurants, spectacular shows, and gorgeous suites all cast a coquettish glance at your wallet, but memorable trips await the savvy budget traveler as well. We've put together a $200 Challenge itinerary so your time on the ground is equally budget friendly. With gambling and go-go girls galore, can 2 people travel for 2 days and spend just $200?
Coupons, Clubs, and Fun Funds
2 People, 2 Days, $200 - Is Extreme Budget Travel in London Possible?
One of my favourite travel adventures is a $200 Challenge. In both the northern mountains of Vermont and in Canada’s legendary Algonquin Park we've challenged ourselves to see if two people could comfortably travel for two days and spend just $200. It's ultra frugal travel at its finest. In both cases, we've had outstanding trips, learned a lot of financial lessons, and gained fresh motivation to attempt this challenge in new locations.
After two camping related challenges it was time to try something new. It was time for a place with a real bed and hot running water! Could that place be London? Everyone want cheap travel in London? But is it really possible? Budget travel, London style, was going to test all of my travel skills.
The $200 Challenge is back!
The piercing laugh and cry of the loon reverberate across the polished glass of Grand Lake. It's a sound I've heard a hundred times before in recordings, but never in the flesh, and I'm taken aback by how haunting it is. When the loon finally settles into a stealthy, silent swim, the entire campground is so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
2 Days - 2 People - $200. Can We Camp On A Budget In Algonquin Park?
In the fall of 2012, Ryan and I undertook our first $200 challenge. We conceived the idea of taking a short trip for 2 people, just 2 days, for only $200. We didn't want it to be just any trip – we wanted to prove that even bare bones, budget travel can be just as enjoyable as more expensive trips.
Our first challenge took us to Smugglers Notch State Park in Stowe, Vermont. It was a wonderful experience and we soaked in the gorgeous fall colors and thoroughly investigated the local food scene. Between the charming town of Stowe and the beautiful scenic drives– we certainly proved you don’t need to spend a lot to enjoy a lot! We also encountered a few problems along the way and we did end up a bit over budget. Our biggest bump in the road came when our camp stove died on our first morning and we were forced to eat out more than we had planned!
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