What do you think of when someone says Michigan? Well, maybe you think of the Great Lakes – the state is on the shores of Michigan, Huron, and Erie. Or perhaps it’s the Motor City, Detroit, or a number of the states’ other vibrant metropolises. Or is it just getting out onto the open road and discovering some of the Midwest’s most beautiful scenery?
Whatever it makes you think of, it’s a great place for your next vacation. But what if you're short on cash and want to see as much of the state as possible? Well, there’s some good news. Your trip doesn't need to be expensive. There are a lot of budget-friendly options that mean your vacation to the Wolverine state won’t break the bank. Here are the best five:
1. Camp in the great outdoors
Michigan is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire Midwest. So why not make the most of it by pitching your tent and save a wad of cash? Sure, it may not be as plush and comfortable as a hotel, but camping is a really fun way to travel on a budget, especially if you’re with family or friends.
Whether you want to camp in pristine woodland, on the shores of one of the Great Lakes, or you just want to sleep under the stars, Michigan has over 1,000 campgrounds waiting just for you. And it’s not just for pitching tents, there are spaces for those who are travelling in an RV (more on that later) too. Although campsite prices vary, the state sells a recreation passport that permits you with entry to every single one of Michigan’s 103 state parks for a year. This is an excellent deal for long term travellers, offering great value for money.
2. Head to the beach
In 2018’s first-ever Budget Travel Awards, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was voted the best value beach in the entire United States. Not only is it the best value, but it was also voted by ABC as the most beautiful place in America. The huge national park manages to squeeze in blue waters, miles and miles of deserted beaches, secluded islands, and excellent hiking.
Sleeping Bear Dunes offers what you’d expect from an equivalent holiday in other, more popular, destinations in the United States at a fraction of the price. You can find campgrounds, hotels, and vacation rentals all in the park itself. Staying in a hotel or a vacation rental can start at $70, but camping is definitely the cheapest option here. And who wouldn’t want to wake up in a national park to hear the twittering of birds or the waves lapping against the shore?
If camping’s not for you, and you want to save even more money, staying in nearby Traverse City is a good idea. Accommodation prices are around half the price that they are in the national park, and it’s only 15km away.
3. Be a frugal foodie in Detroit
Eating out at top-quality restaurants and parting with a lot of cash are synonymous; however, that’s not the case in Detroit. As the state’s second place winner in the 2018 Budget Travel Awards, Detroit is the best value city for foodies in the entire country. Whether you want traditional all-American dishes, aromatic coffee, or inspirational international cuisine, there are great restaurants in the city where you can get a hearty and filling meal for as little as $5 and tasty snacks for a single buck.
It’s not just the food that’s affordable in Detroit either, several museums are free to enter and many offer tours with no charge too. Remember, Detroit isn’t the only city in Michigan, and others such as Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Ann Arbor have plenty to offer too.
4. Head out onto the open road in an RV
Combine your travel and accommodation into one package by renting an RV.
The open road in an RV is the American dream for many people, and if you’re travelling in a big group with your family or friends, it’s a lot more economical than you might expect, so definitely don’t write this option off!
You can rent an RV with room for 6 people for as little as $150 per night. It might be a bit nerve-wracking to drive such an enormous vehicle at first, but as long as you plan your trip well, know the height of your vehicle, and take turns driving (if and when possible), you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience, while saving money on hotels and travel. Many RVs come with cooking facilities too, making it much easier to save money on food. Just park up in the supermarket and fill your kitchen quarters with fresh produce.
Getting from A to B has never been so fun.
5. Grab a vacation rental
Using the same logic as an RV, staying in a vacation rental is a great way to split accommodation costs when travelling in the state with friends. In 2018’s Budget Travel Awards, Airbnb was voted as the number 1 hotel chain in the United States (shhh, it’s not actually a hotel chain). However, booking with them is not the only option.
The great thing about vacation rentals in Michigan is that while there are apartments and houses, there’s no limit to where you can stay if you use your imagination. A lakeside lodge, a countryside cottage, and glorious glamping are all easily attainable when the price is split with your family or a group of good friends. Also factor in that not only are you able to split the cost, many of these come with a kitchen, meaning that you can save money you’d spend on eating out by preparing your own meals. Cooking together isn’t just cheap, it’s also great fun!
If you can forget about the budget for a moment, there are some really unusual vacation rentals for the most acquired tastes. For example, how about a (former) asylum, a lighthouse, or in a castle? For more travel ideas in Michigan, check out Trip101, your one-stop travel guide, with destination guides and accommodation reviews.